Who’s the most dominant college player you can remember? Shaq? Duncan? Maybe you prefer one season of absolute brilliance over a decorated career, in which case Melo or Durant might be your pick. Well, Chris Jackson probably tops them all. The 6’1″ combo guard poured in 29 a night over two seasons at LSU, putting him well on pace to be the school’s all-time leading scorer (which also would have made him the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer, since record-holder Pete Maravich went there too). Instead, he jumped early to the NBA, got picked 3rd in the 1990 draft by the Nuggets and changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf upon converting to Islam.
His career in the League didn’t live up to the massive hype his collegiate exploits generated, but he did have 4 seasons of at least 16 ppg in addition to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in ’92-’93. He finished about 150 free throws shy of being eligible, but his .905 career FT% tops the NBA career record of .904 set by Mark Price. Today he’s best remembered for a 1996 game against the Magic when he refused to stand for the national anthem out of protest, citing the U.S.’s oppressive history and his religious beliefs. He was suspended for a game and soon shipped off to play 3 more seasons between Sacramento and Vancouver. Like previous PoW Cedric Ceballos, Abdul-Rauf is still lacing them up into his 40’s as he signed a contract last year with Japan’s Kyoto Hannaryz. We at AGR would like to salute an NBA career unfortunately cut short by controversy, and while everyone rushes to anoint John Wall the best guard to come out of college in forever, we wonder if we’ll ever again see a guy put on a display like this:
And yes, that is a startlingly svelte Shaquille O’Neal.
Have any other memories of Abdul-Rauf? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.