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Inner-view with ‘white-balled’ NBA star Mahmoud Abdul Rauf
By Mickey Dean, NBUF, introduction by Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at Special from the San Francisco Bay View
Published September 7, 2017

Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abul-Rauf, left, passes the ball past San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson in the first quarter in Denver on Saturday, Nov. 4, 1995.(Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf keynotes the 38th national convention of the National Black United Front in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 7.

Decades before our friend and former San Francisco National Football League star quarterback Colin Kaepernick found himself “unhireable” – for the “crime” of taking a knee to protest the rockets-red-glare-bombs-bursting-in-air “Star Spangled Banner,” theme song of continuing European white supremacist terrorism and racist murders – another gifted pro athlete was “white-balled” out of the National Basketball Association.

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, European enslavement name Chris Jackson, was a nearly “unguardable” sweet-shooting point guard for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets in the 1990s. Think of a unique baller like MVP Steph Curry… before there was a Steph Curry. Brother Mahmoud became an All-Star, scored a career high of 51 points in one game and once had 32 against Chicago Bulls while being defended principally by Michael Jordan.

In this March 15, 1996 file photo, Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf stands with his teammates and prays during the national anthem before an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago. This was Abdul-Rauf’s first game back since he was suspended by the NBA on March 12, 1996, for refusing to participate in the national anthem pre-game ceremony. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision this week to refuse to stand during the playing of the national anthem as a way of protesting police killings of unarmed black men has drawn support and scorn far beyond sports. Through the years, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has become a symbol of both patriotism and politics. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

After converting to Islam, Brother Mahmoud began his silent and private protest of the “Star Spangled Banner” anthem. And, for his heroic refusal to stand, Brother Mahmoud had his home burned down, lost millions of dollars in potential salary and endorsements, and was eventually forced go to overseas to earn a fraction of his previous income.

In July, Brother Mahmoud keynoted the 38th Annual Convention of the National Black United Front in Kansas City, Missouri. Afterwards, this always brilliant and humble man sat down to share some further wisdom, experience and thoughts with Baba Mickey Dean of NBUF for the “What’s Up, KC?” show on the Cascade Media Group.

Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf takes a break against the Philadelphia 76ers in Denver’s McNichols Sports Arena, Dec. 30, 1995. Abdul-Rauf has become the center of controversy because of his refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem before the start of games. Abdul-Rauf has been suspended indefinitely by the NBA for his action, which he claims is motivated by his Islamic faith. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Mickey Dean: Hello, everyone. My name is Mickey Dean of the Kansas City Chapter of National Black United Front (NBUF). I am here with Brother Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who just finished speaking at the opening session our 38th Annual NBUF Convention. Brother Mahmoud, welcome to Kansas City.

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf: Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

MD: Brother Mahmoud, what were some of the main points you wanted to impart tonight to our audience?

MAR: Well, some of my points were the importance of moving in a collective spirit, and not as individuals, and the challenge that one faces when we are fighting for something as valuable as freedom. There are always entities that are out there trying to see to it that the system of control will remain the way it is. Staying true to yourself and doing something always in the spirit that is bigger than yourself.

MD: Let me ask you this. I work with young boys and they often have questions about the role of athletes, particularly Black professional athletes, and their involvement in the struggle. We do see certain things happening and people taking a stand. For example, Michael Bennet [of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team] refused to go to Israel – and some others who are doing some things. How do you see it today and the role of Black athletes? Is it improving? Is it good? Is it not good?

MAR: I think you definitely have more athletes who are vocal. How powerful it will be will be determined by how we are able to sustain it. There’s this tendency that we will jump on things for a minute – and then we will let it go. Right now it seems like these types of things are fashionable.

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf keynotes the 38th national convention of the National Black United Front in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 7.(Courtesy Photo)

And that’s my concern – that things will die down. But I’m hoping that they won’t. But I definitely think there’s some improvement in articulating what it is that concerns people and getting their voices out. The test is being able to sustain it.

MD: I want to reference one key point you made tonight regarding the importance of reading and research. A lot of people today are victim to the commercial media. They pretty much believe whatever they read. How important is doing independent research? And getting away from what politicians say? And what the commercial media is saying?

MAR: It is very important. You pretty much said it. There’s this tendency to read something on Google and figure it’s the “gospel truth.”

But going to the library, reading books after books and doing some serious investigation about what it is you’re reading is kind of becoming, in a sense, obsolete in the minds of many. But this is the only way I think you’re going to really have more of a concept of what is happening. More of an in-depth understanding of what is happening.

There’s this concept now called intersectionality of ideas. So being able to tie all that together and make sense of it – which is kind of fading in this type of society now.

Denver Nuggets’ Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf jumps up for the shot as Toronto Raptors’ Damon Stoudamire tries to block during first quarter NBA play Monday night, March 18, 1996 in Toronto. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Moe Doiron)

MD: One last question: What is Brother Mahmoud up to these days?

MAR: I’m just trying to get better. In everything! I have five children that I spend a lot of time with. I’ve been traveling doing a little bit more speaking. Doing a lot of professional basketball training. Trying to diversify in terms of business. I’m with the Big 3. Right now Ice Cube – business owner, filmmaker, actor – and musician O’Shea Jackson have ex-NBA players playing basketball. So I’m just trying to stay productive.

MD: Brother Mahmoud, thank you so much for coming to Kansas City and being a guest of the National Black United Front. Really appreciate you. And I think the people tonight really appreciated you. Thank you.

This inner-view was transcribed by Baba Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Ma’at, a friend and comrade of Baba Mickey Dean for over 45 years. Jahahara Amen-RA Alkebulan-Maat advocates for power to the people politically, economically and culturally and is known particularly for his leadership in the struggle for reparations. He can be reached at jahahara@newafrikan777.com.

Cascade Media Group was on location at the 38th national convention of the National Black United Front at the Manual Tech Center in Kansas City, Missouri, with former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf. Mr. Rauf spoke about his decision to stand against injustice and making a life change to be more conscious. He was the keynote speaker Friday, July 7.

Denver Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is shown in December 1992 in a Denver mosque. The NBA on Wednesday, March 13, 1996, found itself at the center of a controversy encompassing basketball, religion and freedom of speech, as Abdul-Rauf held firm in his religious beliefs in refusing to stand for the national anthem. The NBA has suspended him indefinitely without pay. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/The Denver Post, Duane Howell)

Former basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf thanks the Mississippi House for their resolution honoring his athletic endeavors, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Abdul-Rauf played for the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies NBA teams. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Rep. Rufus Straughter, D-Belzoni, left, congratulates former NBA basketball player Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, a native of Gulfport, Miss., after he was honored by the Mississippi House with a resolution recognizing his athletic endeavors on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 at the state Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Rauf played for the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings and Vancouver Grizzlies. (Photo Courtesy: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

 

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