Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf Rumors
David Fizdale: No matter how powerful, how rich or how famous you become, racism is an inevitable obstacle that black men face.
As Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, many of us in the sports world were asked, “What will you do?” While leading my team, would I kneel in support of Kaep? My answer was simple: If my team kneels, then I’m kneeling. This would no doubt anger some, and I asked myself, “Should I just shut up and coach?” Our team at that time decided not to kneel, but a big part of me lives in regret for not taking a knee. If more of us took that knee, where would we be as a country today? I don’t know. There was also a part of me that feared that protest would be putting my career at risk. Just like Kaep, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf or Muhammad Ali, who all had their careers damaged for protesting injustice.
When you protested, do you think the NBA Players Association lobbied enough for you? Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf: No, I don’t think so.
To some degree, you want people to understand, you want people to be enlightened. Who doesn’t? If you share something with somebody, you want them to agree with you. At the same time, that really wasn’t my focus. I was so focused on where I was trying to go. I wasn’t focused on my career ending, who accepted it, who didn’t. I’m looking at my life as a child, the things I missed out on, things I didn’t learn, in a sense, systematically. Deliberately, as far as I’m concerned. I felt cheated.
What has been the typical reaction from teammates, coaches and executives when they find out you are Muslim? Abdul-Rauf: Initially, when I became a Muslim, it wasn’t looked at as a threat … And [people] say they’re Christians or they’re Jews, but you don’t necessarily see them practicing it, according to scripture.
So, when I first became Muslim there was nothing. No concern on their faces. But when they saw me, ‘Hold on this guy is actually praying? He’s trying to find a closet and places to pray, talking about fasting.’ You know they had concerns about that, like, ‘I don’t think that’ll be a good thing.’ And, when they see you really trying to practice what you say you’re about, that’s when you start to see a little bit of the resistance as if though you’re not in this country club atmosphere.
When Abdul-Rauf takes the court with the Three-Headed Monsters in the BIG3 League on Sunday, his controversial story will certainly come back to life.
“It’s nothing that I regret,” Abdul-Rauf said of his stance against the flag and anthem.
“I’m still doing the same things. I’m still speaking out against what I see as injustice, whether it’s on college campuses or conventions. That hasn’t changed and I don’t plan on that changing. So, I still feel the same way.
The BIG3, the highly anticipated 3-on-3 professional basketball league, announced today Latrell Sprewell, J.R. Rider, Earl Boykins, Brian Cook and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf as the latest signings to its Draft player pool.
Sprewell, Rider, Boykins, Cook and Abdul-Rauf join Kenny Anderson, Smush Parker, Jamario Moon, Ruben Patterson, and Etan Thomas as the first players signed to the upcoming draft. The BIG3 will announce new signings each Monday leading up to the Draft. Last week, the BIG3 also announced the name of the second team: Trilogy. Co-captained by Kenyon Martin and Al Harrington, Trilogy joins the 3 Headed Monsters as the first BIG3 teams.
“The football team here at Mission had taken a knee,” Pusung-Zita said of the move in September, which generated national headlines after it was reported by The Chronicle, “and I was wondering if you had any comments about that?” Abdul-Rauf, standing in front of more than a hundred students in the early afternoon, took a pause before answering a question that has been at the center of sometimes fiery debate in recent weeks touching on sports, social justice and patriotism. “If it’s what you believe, then stick by it,” he said. “I’m a supporter, obviously.”
The kneeling, Abdul-Rauf said, showed that “you’re willing to sacrifice and put yourself out there and stand up for what you believe in. … Never allow anyone to take that away from you. Never lose that freedom.”
But when players express their diverse points of view on controversial topics, leagues often struggle with how best to respond. Twenty years ago, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a guard for the Denver Nuggets, declined to stand for the national anthem, and he was suspended indefinitely by the N.B.A.
The league relented after one game, when Abdul-Rauf agreed to stand for the anthem on the condition that he be allowed to bow his head in prayer. “I think the world has changed in the last twenty years,” Tatum said, when I asked him about that precedent.
In July, the Women’s National Basketball Association, which is backed by the N.B.A., fined players on three teams and their organizations for wearing black T-shirts during pregame warmups to protest recent shootings by, and violence perpetrated against, police officers.
In researching what happened to you in 1996, you were fined, you were suspended and yet there the NBA had no rule against not standing for the national anthem. Why do you think they came down on you so hard?
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf: Well, it goes back, I think, to just the simple fact that as athletes, we’re not expected to [have] social or political positions. It seems like it’s OK to fall into other stereotypes. You have people on rape charges and that’s OK, we can accept that. But to be socially conscious, like a [Chicago Bulls guard] Craig Hodges or whoever, this is unacceptable. So let’s make an example to discourage other athletes from doing the same thing. And this is why I think it went down that way
. Bernie [head coach Bernie Bickerstaff] called me into his office. I go down and he begins to tell me “hey they want you to stand or they’re going to suspend you.” I said, “Well, Bernie, tell them to do what they have to do.” I’m so naive at the time, I’m like, “look, well now can I go get dressed?” He said, “No you’re suspended now.” I said, “Well, can I put my clothes on and support the team?” He said “No, you’re not even allowed on the premises.” So I left. And then that’s when it hit the news and the rest is history.
Abdul-Rauf has never spoken to Kaepernick, and isn’t a football fan. But he supports the quarterback’s protest and message “1,000 percent,” saying that it created a valuable debate.
“It’s good to continue to draw people’s attention to what’s going on whether you’re an athlete, a politician, or a garbage man. These discussions are necessary,” he said. “Sometimes it takes people of that stature, athletes and entertainers, because the youth are drawn to them,
[more than] teachers and professors, unfortunately.”
“We had him come in, to sit down and have a conversation, and the conversation was about, the one thing that we have in this life is freedom of choice, and with that choice comes consequences. And my conversation with him was simply that one of the guys I probably admired most at that time was Muhammad Ali, because not only did he make a decision not to step forward but it was the part of it, the things that he gave up, and our message basically to (Abdul-Rauf) was
‘Hey, that’s the guy I admire. If you really feel that way then you go home, and you give us a call and let us know you’re willing to walk away from that contract, and then I can really, really, respect that… “When he got home, we got a call and he said ‘I think I want to be on the trip.’ And that’s our understanding, if you’re on the trip, then you’re standing.”
12 Apr 14