Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|uhh sports stuff...|
|03/11/01 at 03:54:20|
|I know nothing but this looked like a good article ;)|
FOR ABDUR-RAHIM, RAMADAN IS 'NEVER A HARDSHIP'
Shareef: Good, Faithful Servant
By Mike Monroe
From the January 2001 issue of Hoop Magazine. Call 1-800-769-8843 to subscribe.
The sacred training program began Nov. 27, the day the Vancouver Grizzlies were in New York to meet the Knicks. Shareef Abdur-Rahim's plan was for the usual breakfast of a large bowl of oatmeal, several slices of toast, orange juice, a lot of fruit and a large bottle of water. All before daylight.
"I try to take in a lot of stuff that will keep me from getting dehydrated during the day," Abdur-Rahim said. "And then I also have some vitamins that I take. Other than that, I'm cool."
Compared to Dec. 3 or Dec. 17, this day was a breeze for Abdur-Rahim, who was observing the Fast of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and a time when adherents concentrate on their faith and spend less time on the concerns of their everyday lives. It is a time of worship and contemplation and Abdur-Rahim looks forward to it each NBA season.
"Spiritually, I feel better," said Abdur-Rahim, the Grizzlies' sensational fifth-year forward. "I get a little fatigued at times, but as far as being a hardship, no. It's never a hardship."
Not even, he said, during afternoon games against San Antonio on Dec. 3 and Orlando on Dec. 17. (He posted 16 points and 11 rebounds in the San Antonio game). Fasting during Ramadan means no food or drink, including water, while the sun is up. That means no water during timeouts during afternoon games, and Abdur-Rahim asks only one special favor from the trainers and ballboys.
Be considerate by not offering water.
"As far as not drinking water, I'm cool about it, but it helps if nobody even offers me some," Abdur-Rahim said. "That does make it a little tougher, but I have everybody pretty well trained not to even offer it to me."
Shareef averaged 20.3 points and 10.4 boards during the season's first 19 games. (Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE Photos)
"We always tried to warn the ballboys ahead of time, 'Hey, avoid Shareef with the water,'" said Troy Wenzel, who was head trainer for the Grizzlies before departing Vancouver for the same position with the Milwaukee Bucks. "Shareef always told me that if he felt the need to drink, he would, at the appropriate time, take a drink. If he was feeling faint, or getting cotton-mouth or something. But he didn't want the temptation to just take a drink if he didn't feel the need."
Despite the fasting, Abdur-Rahim always looks forward to Ramadan, and not only for religious reasons.
"I've always played better during Ramadan," Abdur-Rahim said. "That's no brag. You can go to the stats and see I've played better."
It also helps that Abdur-Rahim's new teammate is Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who is making a comeback with the Grizzlies after being out of the NBA for two seasons. Abdul-Rauf, also a devout Muslim, has been a friend and advisor since Abdur-Rahim's days as a high school star in Marietta, Ga.
"I'm so happy about Mahmoud being with us in Vancouver, " Abdur-Rahim said. "For me, it's about a lot more than basketball with Mahmoud. Mahmoud and I can probably push each other in other kinds of ways, in a spiritual way, that can be good for both of us. I've never had anyone around me since I left home -- nobody that I played with, that was Muslim, where I wasn't on my own, as far as that. So that's really good this season."
Quietly -- some would say in near-obscurity as the star of a struggling team that plays in the Canadian Pacific province of British Columbia -- Abdur-Rahim has become one of the NBA's best small forwards. When he was added in July to the U.S. Olympic team, basketball fans worldwide began to discover a player NBA coaches and players already knew as a small forward with both the size and skills to dominate most players at his position. A replacement on the Olympic team for the injured Grant Hill, Abdur-Rahim averaged 10.5 minutes, 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Olympians during their gold medal run.
While he was more a complementary player than a focal point in Sydney, Abdur-Rahim is back in his regular role as centerpiece of a Grizzlies team that has undergone major changes in the management of the team, from the owner to the general manager to the head coach. Regardless of those changes, Abdur-Rahim will be the prime determinant of Grizzlies success.
NO FOOD? NO PROBLEM
Shareef Abdur-Rahim contends that he feels spiritually and physically better during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and that there is no drop-off in his game. He's right. As the chart below supports, his scoring average is better for the 30 days of fasting as compated to the rest of the NBA season. - Tracey Reavis
Season ppg rpg apg
1999-2000 22.0 9.6 3.2
1997-98 23.3 6.9 2.8
1996-97 20.8 6.9 1.9
Rest of season
Season ppg rpg apg
1999-2000 19.9 10.2 3.3
1997-98 22.1 7.1 2.6
1996-97 18.0 7.0 2.2
Note: Ramadan occurred during the lockout in 1998-99.
During Ramadan, Abdur-Rahim, whose name roughly translates into "servant of a merciful God," believes his opportunities to excel increase rather than diminish. It's never in his mind not to fast during the holiest month of the year.
"I put God [Allah] first in my life, then my family and friends," said Abdur-Rahim. "Basketball ranks high because it's something I feel that God gave me. He gave me the talent to play basketball and I don't want to disrespect that. I feel like, if I misuse it, it will be taken from me."
The Ramadan regimen is difficult, but he said it is not torturous. The most difficult part is arising long before sunrise in order to enjoy a large meal that must sustain him throughout the day, until he can break the fast after sunset.
"For me," Abdur-Rahim said, "I've been doing it so long it's easy. I get up and eat breakfast before the sun rises and pray. Then I do my reading from the Qur'an [the sacred scripture of Islam] that you have to do. But I really don't skip a beat. For breakfast I try to eat a lot, stuff that will hold me over. I have to go to practice, and training. If I was just a regular Muslim, like regular people, I'd just have a typical breakfast. But they're not doing as much physical stuff."
Playing in Vancouver provides a bit of a break for Abdur-Rahim because the sun rises later in the day and sets earlier than in other NBA cities not situated so far North.
"I'm not so much concerned about when the sun rises," Abdur-Rahim said, with a laugh, "as to when the sun sets, and I can eat again. In Vancouver, the sun sets early. In December, the sun will set around 5 p.m. If we play a game at seven, I can get a meal in before the game, a couple of hours before. So that's good for me. I'll eat a lot of bread and pasta and drink a lot of water.'
When Wenzel was in Vancouver, he marveled at Abdur-Rahim's ability to maintain his high level of play while fasting.
"He's so physically gifted. He's able to withstand a lot of discomfort," Wenzel said. "He has a high tolerance for it. He can go from a 10 o'clock practice in the morning, be in the gym from about 9, put up 200 shots before practice, go through a two-hour practice, and then spend another 45 minutes on the floor post-practice, and then go do his weight workout and be the last one to leave the gym, at 2:15. "
And through the whole time, he hasn't even thought about eating, which highlights his discipline and incredible work ethic.
Wenzel consulted a nutritionist to help Abdur-Rahim devise a regimen of foods he could eat before sunrise and after sunset that would help sustain his energy throughout the daylight hours. Those short daylight hours in Vancouver in the winter helped a lot.
"Sometimes, the sun doesn't come up until 8:30 or 9 and goes down at 3:30 or 4," Wenzel said. "That was a big help for Shareef when we were at home. When we went on a road trip, it was tougher."
Abdur-Rahim is not the first Muslim player who has dealt with the Ramadan fast in the middle of the long NBA season. He's not even the most prominent. That would be Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon, the Most Valuable Player of the 1993-94 regular season and the 1994 and 1995 NBA Finals. Olajuwon put to rest forever the notion that an NBA player might suffer a decline in performance during the fast when he was named NBA Player of the Month in February 1995, when much of the month was part of Ramadan.
Olajuwon's performance that month: averages of 29.5 points and 10.1 rebounds and a shooting percentage of 55.2.
Ramadan, Olajuwon said, doesn't hurt him. It inspires him. He considers it a "joy" that he eagerly anticipates each year.
"Islam is the foundation that really keeps you balanced and focused," Olajuwon said. "It also gives me the strength to enjoy playing basketball. It makes the game easier. It's something that keeps you so focused and puts everything in perspective. You can go out and play without any pressure; no big deal. You can do your best, and it will not affect how you feel off the court. Everything is in perspective. It is balanced."
Olajuwon, said Abdur-Rahim, has been an inspiration for all Islamic players, and not only for his superior performance during a career now in its 17th season. Olajuwon's quiet dignity, including his embrace of Islam, has not been lost on other players who follow that faith. His high level of play, however, was also an inspiration. Olajuwon proved conclusively that observance of the Ramadan fast should not be a concern for any coach with an Islamic player on his team.
Abdur-Rahim said he tries to set a personal development goal for which he strives each Ramadan season.
"Every year I try to come up with something I focus on, " Abdur-Rahim said. "Last year I just tried to get focused and be as complete as I could be. I saw parts of my life that had holes in it, so last year I wanted to be more complete and more consistent as a person. I feel I bettered myself in some ways last year. This year, I just want to be with my family, my friends and my teammates and just celebrate life. I feel God certainly has blessed me, so I'm just going to try to have fun and work hard and play hard."
Mike Monroe is the senior writer covering the NBA for FOXSports.com
|Re: uhh sports stuff...|
|03/11/01 at 04:05:13|
Man, I just wish this brother of ours was on a better team!!! He's commonly known as "the NBA's best kept secret." The guy is an awesome player, and a very classy person. He deserves better.
This reminds me of something. It's amazing how much these players contribute to Islamic da'wah. About 3 years ago, I remember sitting on the MSA booth in our Open House on campus (when all student orgs show up to "recruit" new members).
One girl came to our table and asked us, "Are you guys Muslims?"
We said, "yes. Would you like to take some free literature?"
She said, "Sure. I would love to learn more about Islam. My favorite player is a Muslim."
A bit surprised, I asked her, "Who is that?"
She said, "Hakeem."
She took some brochures and went away smiling! And I just sat there praying to Allah (swt) to bless our brother Hakeem Olajuwon for his remarkable efforts.
|Re: uhh sports stuff...|
|03/14/01 at 12:48:18|
Brother Hakeem won't be playing next year-- maybe. :(
He has some health problems. May Allah give him health. Ameen.
|Re: uhh sports stuff...|
|03/14/01 at 13:01:40|
He should just quit completely, his health is more important then some game. He has a blood clot in his leg. That's very serious.
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