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Volume 24 No. 134
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     Nuggets Guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA
without pay for refusing to stand during the playing of the
national anthem.  Abdul-Rauf:  "My beliefs are more important
than anything.  If I have to give up basketball, I will."  Abdul-
Rauf said due to his Muslim religion, he does not believe in
recognizing nationalistic ideology.  Calling the U.S. flag a
"symbol of oppression, of tyranny," Abdul-Rauf added, "It's clear
in the Koran, Islam is the only way.  I don't criticize those who
stand, so don't criticize me for sitting.  I won't waver from my
decision."  Abdul-Rauf meets with NBA Commissioner David Stern in
New York today to discuss the issue (John Mossman, WASHINGTON
POST, 3/13).
     REAX:  Charles Lyons, President of Nuggets' parent company,
Ascent Entertainment, supports the league.  Lyons:  "The NBA's
rule on this point is very clear."  But Shaquille O'Neal, a
college teammate of the former Chris Jackson at LSU, backs his
friend:  "It isn't dishonorable.  Mahmoud is Muslim, and you have
to respect that.  Chris is a good person.  He's not a butthole"
(Colorado Springs GAZETTE-TELEGRAPH, 3/13).  Nuggets teammate
Dikembe Motumbo:  "They should have known that Mahmoud never
participated in that.  It's like the man be coming in your house
and be sleeping with your wife and you don't know"
("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/12).  TNT's Ernie Johnson:  "I don't
think the NBA wants a political or religious -- or any kind of
situation on its hands -- that might divide it" ("NBA on TNT,"
     LEGAL ANALYSIS:  ABC Legal Editor Arthur Miller, from this
morning's "Good Morning America":  "This is not completely
irrelevant to the business of basketball.  The business of
basketball is pleasing fans, and if it a characteristic of fans
that they are patriotic, that they want respect shown to the
flag, it is quite reasonable for the employer to say, `We want
you to show that type of respect.' ... The question is if there
is a legitimate business purpose to be insistent by the league
that the rules be obeyed.  That's a very delicate question.   I
can see a judge or a jury saying, `Look you can't have absolute
obedience to religion when it offends the customer.'  A waiter
who refuses to bathe or shave on grounds of religion need not
continue in employment" (ABC, 3/13).