By JOHN E. BIALAS
The oldest player in the new BIG3 League scored just 8 points in his team’s first game Sunday, but he hit two big shots down the stretch in a victory at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf is the oldest player and his team, the 3-Headed Monsters, beat the Ghost Ballers 62-60. The screen grab above shows the game’s scoring timeline.
Abdul-Rauf was a spectacular outside shooting point guard known as Chris Jackson when he starred at Gulfport High School in Mississippi and at LSU. He grew up in the Soria City neighborhood of Gulfport, just west of my neighborhood, and would shoot playground hoops at Second Street Park.
As a sportswriter, I just might have covered one or two or three of his high school games.
Some people thought he would become the next Isiah Thomas in the NBA, though he was more like Stephen Curry long before anyone knew Dell Curry had any children.
Abdul-Rauf played nine seasons in the NBA, most of them with the Denver Nuggets, who made him the third pick overall in the 1990 NBA draft. He changed his name to Abdul-Rauf in 1993 after converting to Islam in 1991.
On Sunday, he stood with his teammates and prayed during the national anthem, a practice going back to the 1995-96 season with the Nuggets, when he was suspended one game for sitting out the anthem because of his belief the American flag is a symbol of oppression.
Abdul-Rauf was 29 then and is 48 now, part of a traveling 3-on-3 pro basketball show that will tour the country this summer.
This is the eighth pro league for Abdul-Rauf, a global traveler who played in six countries (the last in Japan in 2011) after his NBA career.
The BIG3 League has eight teams featuring such former NBA players as Abdul-Rauf, Allen Iverson, Jason Williams, Mike Bibby, Bonzi Wells and Kenyon Martin. Xavier Silas, 29, is the youngest player in the league and Jerome Williams, 44, is the second-oldest.
Four Sunday games are scheduled at each stop and they are aired on FS1 on Mondays. If you watch the telecasts, you might even see 4-point shots, one of the league’s innovations.
Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Lexington, Kentucky, are among the other tour stops and Las Vegas will host the championship Aug. 26.
Abdul-Rauf’s coach in the BIG3 League is Gary Payton, also 48 years old and like Abdul-Rauf a member of the 1990 NBA draft class.
And where was Payton selected? The Seattle SuperSonics made Payton the second pick overall, one spot ahead of Abdul-Rauf.