Before Their Time Vol. 3

Mars Robinson
SportsRaid
Published in
3 min readJan 23, 2024

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In the NBA’s history, many players have paved the way for the things we see on the regular today. Back then, those players weren’t as appreciated.

Art by Mars Robinson

Continuing with the BTT series, I felt the need to highlight one of the most criminally underrated and disrespected players ever. Chris “Action” Jackson, better known as Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is a 6'1" point guard who has the ability to score not only at will but at an alarming rate. Even at the young age of 54, you can find him torching your favorite veterans and young hoop influencers alike in the Ice Cube-owned BIG 3 league.

Mahmoud’s illustrious basketball career is the stuff of legend. A star at LSU, Rauf garnered national attention with his shifty and quick style of play. He was very Barry Sanders-like in his fluidity weaving through defenders to create space for his often automatic jump shot. Rauf was your favorite shooter’s favorite shooter. A career 29.0 PPG at LSU on 47/37/86. Rauf was shooting from the logo before it was even a thing.

Before Steph, Dame, and Trae gave us 40-foot bombs on the regular, Mahmoud gave us spectacle after spectacle with his premier shot-making. After racking up two national Player of the Year awards, Mahmoud would then be drafted third overall in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Mahmoud was a bright spot for a Denver team that saw little to no success while he was there.

During a six-season stint in Denver (14.6 PPG on 44/35/90), Rauf was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Second Team (90'), was the NBA’s Most Improved Player (93'), led the league in free throw percentage twice (93'-94', 95'-96'), posted his career high in assists (20) in November of 95' and scored his career high of 51 in December of 95'. Shortly after spending some time in Sacramento, Rauf would retire from the game of basketball saying that he “lost interest in the game”.

Rauf is one of many athletes to come out and speak on how things are in America, and he never shied away from criticizing and bringing forth real issues. We’re all aware of how he was against the National Anthem and would stand with his head down in Islamic prayer during it. Actions like this led to his house in his home state of Mississippi being burned down in 2001.

Due to his views on the US and the flag, Mahmoud believed he was blackballed from the league, and I have to agree. We’ve seen this same episode with former Chicago Bulls guard, Craig Hodges. Hodges used his voice as an athlete to shed light on the poor and disenfranchised. He encouraged his teammates to do the same but was mainly ignored.

When you look at all of the hyper-scoring guards that we have in today’s league, you have to look back at players like Rauf who helped set the foundation. His name doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for not only his skill set but for his belief in himself and what he believed in.

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Mars Robinson
SportsRaid

Freelance NBA writer and host of “The No Bias Podcast” Twitter: @marsjoint @nobiaspod