Though many people are familiar with Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the National Anthem, many may not know about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a rising star in the NBA who did the same thing 20 years earlier. Abdul-Rauf (whose name was Chris Jackson before converting to Islam), missed his prime playing years in the NBA (after being drafted third pick in the 1990 draft). After refusing to stand, citing the flag as a symbol of oppression and racism, he was suspended by the NBA. A compromise was reached, but he quickly faded into the stats book after his playing time dropped and he was let go after one more season. He was 29, and his professional career moved overseas.
Now 47 and in great shape, he is playing in Ice Cube’s BIG3 League, a twist on traditional basketball that hails many players past the retirement age. Abdul-Rauf now lives in Atlanta (he’s originally from Gulfport, Miss.) and trains almost daily at an L.A. Fitness just outside of town. ESPN’s The Undefeated, a website dedicated to covering race, culture, and sports, sent me out to hang out with him for a day. These photos are from that day, and you can read the full story here: https://theundefeated.com/features/big3-league-abdul-rauf-kapernick/