Controversial former NBA player says Colin Kaepernick had ‘most freedom’ he ever felt after anthem protests






Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the national anthem in 1996, an act for which he was fined and suspended.

Colin Kaepernick revived the protest and became the face of it when he knelt during the national anthem 20 years later.

The former NBA player said he met with Kaepernick during the height of Kaepernick’s protests. Despite all the backlash Kaepernick faced, he felt at peace.

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In this Sept. 12, 2016, file photo, San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game.
(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

“We never talked a lot, but we did meet up in the Bay Area when he was going through what he did,” Abdul-Rauf told TMZ Sports. “We had a mutual friend. We met in like a private office. We spoke for about an hour. We just shared information and, if it resonated, we took it.

“The biggest takeaway for me during that whole night was when he said this is the most freedom he’s ever felt in his life. I said to him, ‘Well, it’s because of this freedom that allows people like yourself and those who came before us and those who’ll come after us to take those risks and do what you did.'”

The two used the national anthem as a protest but for slightly different reasons. Abdul-Rauf said the American flag was a symbol of oppression and that the United States had a long history of tyranny. Kaepernick protested against police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.

Point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets stands in prayer during the singing of the national anthem before a Nuggets' game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago March 15, 1996.

Point guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the Denver Nuggets stands in prayer during the singing of the national anthem before a Nuggets’ game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago March 15, 1996.
(Getty Images)

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Kaepernick last played in the NFL in January 2017. Abdul-Rauf thinks the former San Francisco 49er wants to make a return to the NFL.

“I would imagine he still does because when you grow up like we did, many of us start young. And so we train, and that becomes a life for us. It’s in our DNA. You just don’t turn that off, that competitive spirit, right away. Especially the level that he was playing in.”

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (center) takes a knee during an NFL game to protest police brutality.

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (center) takes a knee during an NFL game to protest police brutality.
(Associated Press)

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Kaepernick took the Niners to Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 but lost to the Baltimore Ravens.








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