Stand for something or fall for anything…
Before San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the stand or rather the knee, it was the hooper formerly known as Chris Jackson that laid it all on the line for his beliefs. The eventual name change to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was the result of a spiritual awakening, realized when he decided to convert to Islam in 1993 at the age of 24. Like many young brothers in America, Abdul-Rauf cites reading “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” while at the Louisiana State University (LSU) as his catalyst into wokedom.
Maybe that explains why he unleashed so much quiet rage on his SEC foes. Mahmoud was a cat-quick point guard whose Tourettes Syndrome made his shake and bake moves that much iller and provided an added ability to focus on detail, as evidenced by his high FT and FG percentages. Known for ignorant scoring outbursts, as a freshman MAR hit for 48 in his third game against in state rival Louisiana Tech. He went on to set the SEC scoring record for a freshman with 53 points against Florida and the NCAA freshman record of 965 points in 32 games (30.2 average). After a brilliant college career, in 1990, Mahmoud was drafted 3rd overall by the Denver Nuggets where he played until 1996. Chris Jackson fans rejoiced and looked forward him doing much work in a league that featured a prime Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and still effective 80’s superstars, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. While Chris Jackson wasn’t a household name, real hoop fans knew the man could go. Mahmoud’s career started off on a good foot. In his first season, he was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Despite the fact that he never dunked in an NBA game he was even chosen to participate in the dunk contest where he showed off his 36″ vertical. It was his 3rd year that was most impactful. Chris Jackson would change his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and average 19.2 points per game, 6.8 assists, all while shooting 93% from the foul line. These numbers were strong enough to earn him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award. Soon enough though, it wouldn’t be his pretty quick release pull up that would be attracting attention.
Malcolm’s words filled [his] head: You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it…. Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it…. Time is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. Truth is on the side of the oppressed today, it’s against the oppressor. You don’t need anything else.
“The start of your ending” – Mobb Deep
The 1994 Playoffs were the best of times and the worst of times. The Denver Nuggets snuck in the Playoffs with a number 8 seed and would face the SuperSonics led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. The league’s MIP would be hounded and held to 30% shooting by a young fresh Gary Payton. Nuggets coach Dan Issel called upon defensive minded backup guard Robert Pack to provide a spark and ultimately help the No. 8 seed Nuggets defeat the mighty SuperSonics in 5 games. From there MAR would soon become a Proverb and an example of what could happen to uppity negroes that forget their job is to pull that ball in the hole, run over bigger niggas, gladiate and speak when spoken to. It was at the start of the 1995-96 season that Malcolm’s words rang too loud in the point guard’s head and Rauf decided he could no longer stand and salute the United States Flag prior to tip-off. Initially, his quiet protest went unnoticed, but it wasn’t long before a reporter started probing and Rauf would be on the radar of the establishment, “the man”, Illuminati and whatever other force you think conspires to silence rebellious negroes. In hindsight it’s a wonder brother Abdul-Rauf wasn’t Tupac’d. Instead of swift justice, the PG was banished to Sacramento for a soon to be retired foreigner that couldn’t guard Mahmoud after a 3 month fast. In Sacramento, Abdul-Rauf would go from a contributing starter his first year to a seldom used 9th man who missed time due to “injuries”. A brief return with the Vancouver Grizz came in 2001 but ended as quick as his frenetic first step. That was it. Point proved. Who want’s some of Deebo?
In stark contrast, it was in 1995 when Michael Jordan, the NBA’s greatest player, and Nike’s most fertile pitchman was quoted as saying he couldn’t endorse U.S. Senate hopeful Harvey Gantt, a black politician who was running against Jesse Helms in North Carolina, Jordan’s home state. Gantt was looking to springboard off of Jordan’s name to defeat Helms, widely regarded as a modern day hoodless Klans men. #23 swatted the overture Mutumbo style. He wasn’t into politics, he explained, didn’t really know the issues. Ass he later told a friend, “Republicans buy shoes, too.” There were other player’s that wanted to remain establishment guys and not rock the boat. Jordan’s fat friend, Charles Barkley, known as the “Round Mound of Rebound” famously made it clear that he wasn’t a role model in a 1993 Nike commercial. For purposes of clarity or staying hot in the sell out streets Charles would resurface 20 years later and make sure he wouldn’t be out cooned. Post George Zimmerman’s not guilt verdict in his criminal trial for hunting down and murdering of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin CB34 saluted and stood in support of the “just us” that was handed down.
“Republicans buy shoes, too.” – Michael Jordan
Most seekers of justice and courage thought the Jim Brown’s, Muhammad Ali’s and Bill Russel’s were throwback relics that were courageous because they weren’t getting to the money like today’s guys. Colin Kaepernick’s stand is refreshing. As Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf points out in the video below, it’s important to note that due to social media, the mainstream outlets can no longer solely shape the narrative. Kaep’s predecessor alludes to the fact that there was support for him during this time, but the voices were silenced and shut down.
Hat’s off to the athletes that are using their platforms to awake the consciousness of a country that counts on an uneducated lazy population of non-critical thinking junk food eaters and junk TV watchers. Your sacrificed will not go unnoticed. In fact, Chris Jackson’s game plus his stance will keep him in the conversation as the greatest college basketball player of all times. Evidenced by the Steph Curry comparisons, anytime an undersized point guard with a torch comes along we will bring your name up out of respect. We will continue to Google search your highlights and speak your name when we talk about sport and revolution. They can salute the flag in honor of the fallen soldiers, we’ll take a knee, text and simply think about black stuff when they play that BS anthem. So unless you remix that wack sh&* so we hear those bottles clanking together at the top of the song, just know, the only anthem we’ll honor is Junior Mafia’s “Player’s Anthem“. Play on player.