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The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award is an annual National Basketball Association (NBA) award given since the 1974–75 NBA season to a player, coach, or trainer who shows "outstanding service and dedication to the community".[1] It is the oldest citizenship and community service award in the NBA and is named in honor of James Walter Kennedy, the second commissioner (then president)[a] of the NBA, who served from 1963 to 1975.[2] The winner is selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA). The PBWA represents writers for newspapers, magazines and internet services who cover the NBA on a regular basis. Members of the PBWA nominate players for the award, and then a vote is taken by approximately 150 PBWA members. The player with the highest point total wins the award.[2] The award is usually given to a person who made the most charitable contribution to the community. For instance, Kevin Garnett received the award in 2006 for donating $1.2 million toward the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.[3]

Since its inception, the award has been given to 35 different players. The Detroit Pistons have had the most winners, with a total of five. Only one season had joint winners—Michael Cooper and Rory Sparrow in the 1985–86 season. Vlade Divac of Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Dikembe Mutombo of Democratic Republic of the Congo and the South Africa-born Canadian Steve Nash are the only three winners who were not born in the United States. Mutombo is also the only player to win the award twice.[4] Frank Layden and Joe O'Toole were the only non-players to win the award. Layden, the 1983–84 award recipient, was the head coach for the Utah Jazz,[5] while O'Toole, the 1994–95 award recipient, was the sport trainer for the Atlanta Hawks.[6]


head shot of Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson won the award in the 1991–92 NBA season.
Dikembe Mutombo speaking to the press
Dikembe Mutombo is the only person to have won the award twice.
head shot of David Robinson
David Robinson won the award in the 2002–03 NBA season.
Steve Nash holding a basketball
Steve Nash won the award in the 2006–07 NBA season.
^ Denotes player who is still active
* Elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame
Season Winner Nationality Team
1974–75 Unseld, WesWes Unseld*  United States Washington Bullets
1975–76 Watts, SlickSlick Watts  United States Seattle SuperSonics
1976–77 Bing, DaveDave Bing*  United States Washington Bullets
1977–78 Lanier, BobBob Lanier*  United States Detroit Pistons
1978–79 Murphy, CalvinCalvin Murphy*  United States Houston Rockets
1979–80 Carr, AustinAustin Carr  United States Cleveland Cavaliers
1980–81 Glenn, MikeMike Glenn  United States New York Knicks
1981–82 Benson, KentKent Benson  United States Detroit Pistons
1982–83 Erving, JuliusJulius Erving*  United States Philadelphia 76ers
1983–84 Layden, FrankFrank Layden  United States Utah Jazz
1984–85 Issel, DanDan Issel*  United States Denver Nuggets
1985–86[b] Cooper, MichaelMichael Cooper  United States Los Angeles Lakers
1985–86[b] Sparrow, RoryRory Sparrow  United States New York Knicks
1986–87 Thomas, IsiahIsiah Thomas*  United States Detroit Pistons
1987–88 English, AlexAlex English*  United States Denver Nuggets
1988–89 Bailey, ThurlThurl Bailey  United States Utah Jazz
1989–90 Rivers, DocDoc Rivers  United States Atlanta Hawks
1990–91 Johnson, KevinKevin Johnson  United States Phoenix Suns
1991–92 Johnson, MagicMagic Johnson*  United States Los Angeles Lakers
1992–93 Porter, TerryTerry Porter  United States Portland Trail Blazers
1993–94 Dumars, JoeJoe Dumars*  United States Detroit Pistons
1994–95 O'Toole, JoeJoe O'Toole  United States Atlanta Hawks
1995–96 Dudley, ChrisChris Dudley  United States Portland Trail Blazers
1996–97 Brown, P.J.P.J. Brown  United States Miami Heat
1997–98 Smith, SteveSteve Smith  United States Atlanta Hawks
1998–99 Grant, BrianBrian Grant  United States Portland Trail Blazers
1999–00 Divac, VladeVlade Divac  Yugoslavia Sacramento Kings
2000–01 Mutombo, DikembeDikembe Mutombo  Democratic Republic of the Congo Philadelphia 76ers
2001–02 Mourning, AlonzoAlonzo Mourning  United States Miami Heat
2002–03 Robinson, DavidDavid Robinson*  United States San Antonio Spurs
2003–04 Miller, ReggieReggie Miller  United States Indiana Pacers
2004–05 Snow, EricEric Snow  United States Cleveland Cavaliers
2005–06 Garnett, KevinKevin Garnett^  United States Minnesota Timberwolves
2006–07 Nash, SteveSteve Nash^  Canada Phoenix Suns
2007–08 Billups, ChaunceyChauncey Billups^  United States Detroit Pistons
2008–09 Mutombo, DikembeDikembe Mutombo  Democratic Republic of the Congo Houston Rockets


  • a  The official title of the position was NBA President until 1967 when it was changed to NBA Commissioner.[7]
  • b  Denotes seasons in which joint winners were named


  1. ^ "Pistons G Chauncey Billups wins sportsmanship award". Retrieved July 2, 2008.  
  2. ^ a b "Snow Named Winner of J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. June 26, 2007. Retrieved July 21, 2008.  
  3. ^ "Garnett wins Kennedy Citizenship Award". USA Today. Associated Press. October 31, 2006. Retrieved July 24, 2008.  
  4. ^ "Mutombo wins J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. April 23, 2009. Retrieved April 23, 2009.  
  5. ^ "Frank Layden Coaching Record". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2008.  
  6. ^ "Smith receives NBA's award for community service". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. April 29, 1998.,%20%22Joe%20O%27Toole%22&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=(%22J.%20Walter%20Kennedy%20Citizenship%20Award%22,%20%22Joe%20O%27Toole%22)&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no. Retrieved July 22, 2008.  
  7. ^ Mike Monroe. "The Commissioners". Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved July 8, 2008.  


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