Growing up watching Hakeem Olajuwon star in the NBA, Shareef Abdur-Rahim believed he too could lace up his sneakers and become an NBA player one day. Abdur-Rahim, of course, went on to have a productive 12-year career, averaging 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds. And now he hopes he can inspire young Muslims to believe they too can work in a pro sports league.
Abdur-Rahim will officially become president of the G League on Jan. 11 when he replaces Malcolm Turner, who is the new athletic director at Vanderbilt University. The former All-Star forward will run the G League’s business and basketball operations, including leaguewide expansion and testing of experimental rules.
“As a young kid, seeing Hakeem, who I identified with being a Muslim and seeing him play and fast, that was inspiring to me,” Abdur-Rahim told The Undefeated during the G League Showcase at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. “If there is a young Muslim who enjoys sports, thinks of being an executive in sports and entertainment, then absolutely I hope they are inspired. Now with that is hard work and sacrifices. I embrace that. It’s a blessing. It’s a good thing.
“The fact that I fast doesn’t prevent me from doing that. It’s the same deal. Just take the high-tops off, lace up some different shoes and go to work.”
Abdur-Rahim, who is currently NBA vice president of basketball operations, received news of his big promotion on his 42nd birthday on Dec. 11. He was the most popular person at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center as people continually congratulated him.