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SBD/14/Leagues Governing Bodies
NBA STANDS FIRM ON ABDUL-RAUF SUSPENSION
Published March 14, 1996
There was no meeting between suspended Nuggets guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and NBA officials yesterday, as reported. Instead, the league reiterated its position on suspending Abdul-Rauf indefinitely over his refusal to stand for the national anthem, while Abdul-Rauf released a statement clarifying his position (Mult., 3/14). This morning's DENVER POST quotes one Abdul-Rauf "confidant," who says, "The statement may have been step one. And I look for step two to happen today. I think he will say something that will get him back to playing basketball." Should he comply, "it may be because he was convinced to change his position by other prominent Muslims" (DENVER POST, 3/14). UNION REAX: The NBPA will file a grievance against the NBA over Abdul-Rauf's suspension, according to the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. NBPA Acting Exec Dir Alex English: "The rule the league relies on was not agreed to in collective bargaining, but was imposed by the league unilaterally in an operations manual without any input from the players" (Curtis Bunn, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/14). More from English: "I feel that the action the NBA took was a little premature and a bit strong. We could have dealt with it in a different way" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/13). ANOTHER MUSLIM PLAYER WEIGHS IN: Hakeem Olajuwon disagreed with Abdul-Rauf's interpretation of the Koran in regards to nationalism. Olajuwon: "In general, Islamic teachings require every Muslim to obey and respect the law of the countries they live in. ... Islamic teachings is to worship none but God, but you respect the flag. You respect and honor America. That is what is distinguished, between worshipping and respect" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 3/14). OTHER MUSLIM REAX: Howard Univ.'s Sulayman Nyang: "The mainstream scholars are clear that you honor the country you are in, as long as the country protects you" (Larry Witham, WASHINGTON TIMES, 3/14). Colorado Muslim Council's Mohamad Jodeh: "Where he gets the interpretation not to stand, I don't know" ("World News," ABC, 3/14). LEGAL ISSUES: Asked if the case is a freedom of religion case, Duke Law Prof. John Weistart notes the constitution does not apply because the government is not involved. Weistart said league-union relations is the "forum" in which the matter should be resolved because it allows the matter to be talked over in a "private, non-public way" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/13). Attorney Kevin Baine, of Williams & Connolly, said Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act is the pertinent statute, not the First Amendment. The "significant question," according to Baine, "is whether the NBA is unable to reasonably accommodate Abdul-Rauf's religious beliefs without undue hardship" (Ken Denlinger, WASHINGTON POST, 3/14).