While everyone is now familiar with Colin Kaepernick, many people have yet to hear the trying story of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.
The date is August 26th 2017. It’s fight day.
I’m sitting at home trying to fill the void of things to do until this historic fight. I sit down turn on the TV. As I’m flipping through the channels I stumble upon the BIG3 Finals, so I watch a bit. As I’m watching, I hear the name Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. The name immediately jumps out at me. He’s the smallest guy on the court and he’s coming off screens knocking down 3 after 3.
So I’m sitting there wondering, who the hell is this guy?
Formerly known as Chris Johnson; Adbul-Rauf, changed his name after converting to Islam. He was a rookie phenom at LSU due to his high scoring outputs, as he averaged just under 29 points per game over two seasons. Abdul-Rauf has often been compared to Steph Curry. However, his college points per game are a whole 4 points higher than Steph Curry, for those of you at home. The similarities between Abdul-Rauf and Curry are evident, with their quick release jumper, incredible proficiency from the stripe, and uncanny ability to score in the paint.
Watch as Abdul-Rauf drop 32 points on MJ’s 96′ Bulls, as the Nuggets handed them a rare loss.
Johnson ended up being the third overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft, after his sophomore season. He managed to accomplish all of this while battling Tourette’s syndrome. Adbul-Rauf was a young player on the rise as he participated in the 1993 Dunk Contest, at the staggering height of 6’1″. He also led the league in free throw percentage in 1994 and 1996.
Controversy found Abdul-Rauf, as he could no longer stand for the injustices his country represented. In the 1996 season, while playing for the Denver Nuggets, people began to question Abdul-Rauf’s notable absence from the sideline during the national anthem. During the anthem, Abdul-Rauf would often be seen stretching on the floor, or not even on the court at all.
When asked about his pre-game habits, Abdul-Rauf responded by saying that the flag is “a symbol of tyranny, and oppression”. Adbul-Rauf was fined 32,000$ and ultimately reached an agreement with the NBA where he would stand for the anthems, however he would bow his head in reflective prayer to Allah.
This all sounds too familiar. Here you have two young athletes (Abdul-Rauf and Kaepernick) who are seemingly on the rise in their sports. Many forget that Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl while creating the “Pistol offence craze” in the NFL. His performance on the field resulted in the exile of long-time 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The treatment of Abdul-Rauf is hauntingly similar to that of Kaepernick. The summer after the 1996 season he was dealt to the Sacramento Kings. In Sacramento, he saw his playing time diminish as he went from averaging 35.6 minutes per game in 1996, all the way down to 28.4 and 17.1 minutes per game, in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
Abdul-Rauf spoke out on the similarities between him and Kaepernick in an interview with The Undefeated,
““It’s a process of just trying to weed you out. This is what I feel is going to happen to [Kaepernick]. They begin to try to put you in vulnerable positions. They play with your minutes, trying to mess up your rhythm. Then they sit you more. Then what it looks like is, well, the guy just doesn’t have it anymore, so we trade him.”
Kaepernick has clearly been “weeded out”, as Abdul-Rauf would call it. Considering the abundance of god-awful quarterbacks in the NFL and Kaepernick’s athletic ability , it’s truly incredible how he has not managed to garner a single offer.
The NFL and it’s owners have made it clear that they do not want opinions, they do not want individuality, and they do not want protest.
In the NFL everyone is expendable.