Former NBA star Abdul-Rauf has kept the faith

By Jim Armstrong
OSAKA, Japan — Two important things haven’t changed for Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf in the 14 years since he set off a firestorm of criticism by refusing to stand for the national anthem before NBA games.

He’s still a devout Muslim and playing basketball.

Abdul-Rauf is now in Japan, the latest stop of a globe-trotting career that became necessary in the aftermath of being booed, inundated with hate mail and suspended by the NBA for refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in March 1996.

“It was close to impossible to play in the U.S. after that,” Abdul-Rauf said. “The doors were shut, but I said the NBA wasn’t the only show in town and I was going to make use of my God-given talent even if it meant playing in Timbuktu.”

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