The sweaty and hot stadium with its creaky parquet floors and hulking rafters and passionate howling patrons was helpless in the spring of 1985. In the old Boston Garden, it was quiet for a moment. It was clear there would be no Celtics comeback, this was it, the last game of the year for Larry Bird and company. In the spring of 1985, Kareem Abdul Jabaar could taste championship number four.
After numbing his opponent with the graceful weapon that he had cultivated for the past 25 years, Abdul-Jabaar walked off the court towards Pat Riley, heroic, his outstretched hand in the air, his finger in the #1 salute. He and his extraordinary teammates broke the Boston Celtics spirit and then they broke the curse of never beating Boston in the Finals.
The skyhook, that thing of beauty and reverence, retired a long time ago. Abdul-Jabaar has a different route of eviscerating his opponents these days. No longer is it the athletic gifts of a seven foot finesse scorer. In the repertoire is intellectualism, social consciousness and an analytical mind. All of it put Abdul-Jabaar on the Donald Trump radar in his column for Time Magazine last December.
What Donald Trump and ISIS Have in Common was a scathing denouement of the Republican presidential candidate with Abdul-Jabaar likening Trump to the terrorist organization because of his ability to erect, evoke and sustain fear in large groups of Americans. He wrote:
“Trump is ISIS greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic polices, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS’s job for them.“
The intent behind the Jabaar article was to peel the protective layer off the Trump fable. Donald Trump operates from an intellectual deficit. He pushes the hate button to pile up votes. He reacts instead of responds. He lacks the discipline to be patient and his judgement is based on settling scores.
According to Trump, if elected, he would not allow Muslims into the country, and would deport Muslims living here already out the country, which, of course, a president has no power to do without Congress’ approval, so all of it was a sideshow that the media ran with because they lacked the intellectual discipline to not give Trump what he wanted: publicity that was free.
On the face of his “policy” Trump would keep Kareem Abdul-Jabaar out of the country. And Shaquille O’Neal. And Hakeem Olajuwon. And Ameer Abdullah. And Ahmad Rashad. And Aqib Talib. And Gorgui Deng. And Kenneth Faried. And Nazr Mohammed. The list goes on and on and on of sports figures who are Muslims, and, who live in a country founded on the principle of religious freedom.
In his Time article, Abdul-Jabaar didn’t stop at the religious intolerance and prejudice against all people of color that emanates from Trump himself. He directly called Trump a liar who the media doesn’t fact check. Like when Trump tweeted out that “81% of murdered whites are victims of blacks”, when the truth is 84% of whites are murdered by whites. Or when Trump said, “Syrian refugees are ‘pouring’ into the country” when only 2,000 have come (out of 4.3 million U.N.-registered refugees).
Then when caught lying they do what every belligerent child does: deny, deny, deny. (Kareem Abdul Jabaar, What Donald Trump and ISIS Have In Common)
Abdul-Jabaar pointed out a statistic from the Atlantic that the same number of Americans killed by furniture every year- around 30- are killed by foreign born terrorists every year.
“Trump’s irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric and deliberate propagation of misinformation have created a frightened and hostile atmosphere that can embolden people to violence.”
The last time Abdul-Jabaar criticized Trump in his column, Trump scribbled all over the column like a kindergartener would do then sent it back to Abdul-Jabaar. Then he said he knew why the media hated Abdul-Jabaar. It was typical of Trump the bully when he is being called out and doesn’t have the intellect or the cognitive discipline to respond with humility and intelligence but instead reverts to name calling.
Trump has the need to have the last word so his war with Abdul-Jabaar was just the first of many wars Trumps has subjected the American public to.
In December, after the Abdul-Jabbar article appeared in Time, Trump, the then Republican Presidential nominee, was racing to shore while the rest of the Republican field was barely treading water. Nothing Trump said, none of the racist rhetoric and reckless propaganda and cruel misogyny registered until he criticized the family of a fallen war hero a couple of weeks ago. Now he’s trailing in the polls in places unheard of for a Republican nominee, specifically Georgia, a southern state kind to Republican nominees.
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar is surprising no one with his confidence that a Trump defeat is on the horizon which is also a defeat against hate, racism, class warfare, misogyny. As he demonstrated on the court one night in Boston when his team did something it had never done before, slay their bitter rival on their home floor, Abdul-Jabaar doesn’t embrace fear.
Donald Trump, the man, doesn’t scare him. Donald’s Trump’s hate? That’s a different story altogether.
photo via llananba