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Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, former NBA star and athlete-activist, has released a new book, In The Blink of an Eye. In it, Abdul-Rauf talks about his decision to tell his story, basketball, and the decision to team with Kaepernick Publishing.
Back in the 1990s Abdul-Rauf, the leading scorer for the Denver Nuggets, declined to stand for the anthem at NBA games. Among many statements, he labeled the American flag as a symbol of “tyranny and oppression.”
Consequently, the NBA suspended Abdul-Rauf for a game: he agreed to stand during the “Star Spangled Banner,” but bowed his head and held his hands in prayers during the song. His actions inspired criticism. Denver traded Abdul-Rauf after the 1995-1996 season; he was soon out of the league entirely.
In 1991, Abdul-Rauf “reverted” to Islam. “In Islam, we don’t use the term conversion because we believe to submit to Islam is to return to our natural state,” Abdul-Rauf writes in In The Blink of An Eye. In 1993, he changed his name from Chris Jackson to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.
Another NBA guard, Chicago Bulls reserve Craig Hodges, wore a dashiki to a White House ceremony after Chicago’s 1991 title. There, he handed a White House official a letter in which Hodges urged President George Bush to show more concern for the African American community. Hodges played one more season in the NBA, and believes he was blackballed ever since.
Much like Kaepernick, who many believe has been blackballed – or whiteballed – Abdul-Rauf has remained relatively quiet regarding his ban ever since his abrupt departure from the NBA.
Abdul-Rauf recently told A Martinez of NPR, “oftentimes what they don’t think about is that stand – it wasn’t just about Black and white, about racial inequality. It was just injustices, period. I don’t care where it is. And, you know, this country, for example – they don’t – there’s this talk about even the military. This is for a lot of them, too, because they go and fight, and they say, oh, you made the ultimate sacrifice. But many military people can’t even get health care. They’re homeless. But this is how you treat people that have given the ultimate sacrifice. A lot of them didnt even realize it – look, this is for you. There’s injustices related to you too, whoever you are.”
Copies of In the Blink of an Eye are available wherever books are sold. Find out more at Kaepernick Publishing.