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Beyond the Field: Mahmoud Abdul Rauf

Tuesday, February 12, 2019
6:30pm – 7:30pm

Storrs Campus
Konover, Dodd Center

In co-sponsorship with the Sport Management Program and their “Beyond the Field” speaker series, please welcome MAHMOUD ABDUL RAUF as we seek to create open dialogue around difficult issues as they intersect with sport.

Abdul-Rauf first came to public attention as a Louisiana State University freshman sensation then named Chris Jackson. At just 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds, he averaged 30 points per game with a hair-trigger jumper and acrobatic layups. Despite having Tourette’s syndrome, he went pro after his sophomore year, was picked third in 1990 by the Denver Nuggets, and converted to Islam. By the 1995-96 campaign, Abdul-Rauf was doing unguardable Stephen Curry things, such as giving Utah 51 points and dropping 32 on Michael Jordan when dealing the Chicago Bulls a rare loss in their 72-win season.

That season also is when Abdul-Rauf’s conscience told him not to stand for the anthem. At first, nobody noticed as he stretched or stayed inside the locker room instead. When a reporter finally asked about it, the issue exploded.

Like Kaepernick, Abdul-Rauf said he viewed the American flag as a symbol of oppression and racism. Abdul-Rauf also said standing for the anthem would conflict with his Muslim faith because you can’t be for God and also for oppression.

DO YOU GET RIDICULED? DO YOU HEAR THE NONSENSE? DO PEOPLE TRY TO ASSASSINATE YOUR CHARACTER? YES, BUT WHEN IT’S ALL SAID AND DONE, YOU’RE LIKE, MAN, I FEEL GOOD BECAUSE I KNOW THAT I’M STANDING ON SOMETHING THAT I BELIEVE IN.”

On March 12, 1996, the NBA suspended Abdul-Rauf for one game, citing a rule that players must line up in a “dignified posture” for the anthem. It cost him almost $32,000 of his $2.6 million salary. The players union supported Abdul-Rauf, and he quickly reached a compromise with the league that allowed him to stand and pray with his head down during the anthem. But at the end of the season, the Nuggets traded Abdul-Rauf, who averaged a team-high 19.2 points and 6.8 assists, to the Sacramento Kings. His playing time dropped. He lost his starting spot. After his contract expired in 1998, Abdul-Rauf couldn’t get so much as a tryout with any NBA team. He was just 29 years old.

This event is free and open to the public. If you need an accommodation, please contact asacc@uconn.edu.

AsACC's Salaam program co-sponsors this event with the Sport Management Program, SUBOG, African American Cultural Center and Center for Students with Disabilities.

Contact:

asacc@uconn.edu

Asian American Cultural Center (primary), Center for Students with Disabilities, Sports Management, SUBOG - Student Union Board of Governors, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, UConn Master Calendar

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