Mahmoud Abdul Rauf

By Ahmed Al-Hilali, TMO

612152-mahmoud_abdul_rauf_large_display_imageOne of the shortest men to ever play professional basketball, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, was standing tall with his Denver Nuggets jersey at only 6’1. Although his physical stature isn’t that high, his spiritual side made up for it, and made him taller than Yao Ming both on the court and off. While leading the NBA in free throw percentages, scoring, points per minute, and assists for one year, it’s safe to say nobody in the NBA at his time could guard him, especially Michael Jordan. His face before a big game and after a buzzer beater for the win does not change, but stays filled with piety. He was and still is a huge impact, both on the court and off. This is why he has gained so much respect from everyone who has ever met him.

Abdul Rauf always has advice to give, no matter the situation. Once when I was playing defense, he told me “Always keep your hands up because you’ll never know the second you need them whether to block a shot or steal the ball. Those milliseconds count,” This one piece of information helped me improve my game so much on defense. He taught me to always respect my teammates and trust them with every shot they take. Even though Abdul Rauf scored most of his team’s points, he also led his team in assists. This was a very difficult thing to accomplish since the players on his team didn’t match his skill level, and at the same time his coach kept sitting him out of the game. After everything he’s been through, it’s truly paid off.

Abdul Rauf always looks happy from his performance and humble at the same time. He is happy in the sense that he did well enough for the crowd to cheer him on and bonuses come flying his way; but he stays humble since he is never content with what he does. He is never satisfied inside because deep down, he knows he could do so much more. There’s more to it than just the feeling of knowing he could do better. Ever since Mahmoud was born, he suffered from Tourette’s, which is an incurable disease which causes involuntary ticks or twitches. This was the main reason why he was so humble, because no matter how good he did on the court he was not perfect as a human being, so he had nothing to brag about. This is an amazing way to look at one’s self, and I hope to achieve this level of humbleness.

People who have only seen the easy and fun sides of Mahmoud haven’t seen his serious side; the side that is only seen by the ones he talks to about important decisions or religious matters. This is the side that needs to be shown from many people, out of respect for the subject. One thing about Abdul Rauf is the fact that he gives anybody respect when disrespect was given to him first. This is a quality I wish to gain from Abdul Rauf, along with many of his others.

Abdul Rauf has impacted many lives, including my own. From the day I met him, he has taught me many things both Islamic and basketball related. I have improved my basketball skills with the help of his tips, and hope to gain his morals as well. The last time a small man made a big difference was during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte. Who knew I would live to see the next?


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