Former NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was a player way ahead of his time. Before Steph Curry helped change how basketball is played with his focus on the three, Abdul-Rauf was a sharpshooter. And before Colin Kaepernick brought significant attention to social justice causes with his protest during the national anthem, Abdul-Rauf had a similar showdown with the NBA.
Today, Abdul-Rauf, who was formerly known as Chris Jackson, received a major honor from his alma mater LSU. The star guard is one of the greatest basketball players in program history. He took home the SEC Player of the Year Award in both 1989 and 1990, and was a consensus first team All-American both years. He went on to be the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft, and an all-rookie second teamer his first year in the league with the Denver Nuggets.
His jersey is being retired in Baton Rouge this afternoon. Legendary LSU coach Dale Brown was in attendance, as were a number of former Tiger players. His most famous teammate Shaquille O'Neal couldn't be there, but
— Glen West (@glenwest21) February 29, 2020
">had a video message for Abdul-Rauf. He called him "undoubtedly the greatest player ever to play at LSU."
Also in attendance was Colin Kaepernick. The quarterback was clearly impacted by Abdul-Rauf's protest in the mid-1990s. The sharpshooting guard was fined over $30,000 per game when he refused to stand for the national anthem. Eventually, he and the league compromised, and he stood, but closed his eyes and recited prayers during the pregame ritual.
Abdul-Rauf played from 1990-98, and made a brief return to the league in 2000-01. He averaged 14.6 points per game for his career, and topped 19 points a game twice.
Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016, his final year with the San Francisco 49ers. He led the team to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC Championship Game appearances as starting quarterback.
After he went unsigned, following his release from San Francisco, Kaepernick filed a lawsuit against the NFL. It was settled in February 2019, and he had a workout for teams this fall.
LSU picked up its 20th win of the season this afternoon, handling Texas A&M 64-50.
— Mike Scarborough (@ScarboroughMike) February 29, 2020