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Introduction to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, former NBA player

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a former professional basketball player who played in the NBA for 9 years with the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Vancouver Grizzlies. He played college basketball at LSU and was a two-time All-American. He was the 3rd overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft and won the Most Improved Player Award in 1993. He was also known for his accurate free-throw shooting and appeared in the Slam Dunk Contest at the 1993 All-Star Weekend. After his NBA career, he played in various leagues around the world. Abdul-Rauf sparked controversy during his career by refusing to stand for the national anthem in protest, calling the US flag a symbol of oppression.

Early life and career of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly known as Chris Jackson, was born in Gulfport, Mississippi to a single mother, Jacqueline Jackson, and raised with his two brothers. He experienced poverty and difficulty in school, missing fourth grade and being placed in special education classes. He was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at 17 and overcame these challenges to become a basketball prodigy in high school. He averaged 29.9 points and 5.7 assists per game and was named Mississippi Mr. Basketball twice. Abdul-Rauf's talent was discovered by a middle-school girls coach on a playground, and in his first organized basketball game, despite not knowing the rules, he scored 24 points.

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College basketball career at Louisiana State University (LSU)

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf had a standout freshman season at LSU, setting a scoring record for a freshman with 53 points against Florida. He scored a career-high 55 points against Ole Miss, while also setting a career-high for three-pointers made. He appeared in 32 games in his freshman season and set the NCAA record for points by a freshman and points per game by a freshman, earning SEC Player of the Year and First-team All-American honors. In his sophomore season, he averaged 27.8 points per game and repeated as SEC Player of the Year and First-team All-American. After two impressive seasons at LSU, Abdul-Rauf declared for the NBA draft and his #35 jersey was retired by the Tigers in 2020.

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NBA career with Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and Vancouver Grizzlies

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was drafted by the Denver Nuggets in the 1990 NBA draft and quickly made a name for himself, being named to the All-Rookie Second Team in his first season and winning the Most Improved Player Award in 1993. He also led the league in free throw percentage in the 1993-94 and 1995-96 seasons and had several impressive performances, including a career-high 51 points against the Utah Jazz in 1995. After playing for Denver, he played for several teams overseas, including Fenerbahçe, Ural Great, and Sedima Roseto. He also played in the BIG3 basketball league and is currently playing for the 3 Headed Monsters.

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After NBA career, playing overseas and in the BIG3 basketball league

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly known as Chris Jackson, is a retired NBA player who embraced Islam in 1991. He has five children and currently resides in Florida, after his home in Necaise, Mississippi was burned down in 2001 due to arson. On an episode of HBO's "Real Sports" that aired in December 2001, Abdul-Rauf expressed his belief that the 9/11 attacks were an "inside job" carried out with the involvement of Israel. Following this statement, negotiations with the New York Knicks for his return to the NBA came to an end, and he did not play in the league again.

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The National Anthem Controversy and aftermath

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is famous for the controversy he created by refusing to stand for the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," before games. He stated that the flag was a symbol of oppression and that the US had a history of tyranny. As a result, he was suspended by the NBA, but he eventually reached a compromise with the league, where he would stand but could look downward and recite Islamic prayer silently. In response to his stance, four employees of a Denver radio station were charged with misdemeanors for entering a mosque and playing the national anthem on a bugle and trumpet.