Vail Valley Voices: The NBA’s winning connection |

Vail Valley Voices: The NBA’s winning connection

Ali Hasan
Vail, CO, Colorado

The Orlando Magic will win the NBA finals primarily because Hedo Turkoglu, one of their best players, is a Muslim. Sound surprising? A look at past history clearly demonstrates that Allah makes a point of helping teams with Muslim players in the NBA finals.

Since 1980, of the 29 teams that have won the NBA finals, at least 20 of them have had a Muslim player -around 70 percent of total champions. In addition, the Muslim player on the roster was often the team’s MVP.

The trend started with the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers, who boasted the All Star skills of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the NBA’s best centers. Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers won five NBA championships in the 1980s, with Abdul-Jabbar taking home team MVP honors in 1985.

One could even argue that Los Angeles cannot win an NBA championship without a Muslim player, as the Lakers had to wait until 2000 to win their next championship, with Shaquille O’Neal leading them to three straight championships and winning MVP honors each time. Of course, Shaquille O’Neal, as noted by the Los Angeles Times, identifies himself as a Muslim.

Fortunes would turn sour for Los Angeles, as they have yet to win a championship since trading O’Neal. As history notes, O’Neal went on to star for the Miami Heat, with whom he won the championship again in 2006, intoning the continuing trend of Muslim-led teams winning the finals.

Muslims have had a large presence outside of the Lakers, too. The Houston Rockets claimed two championships in the 1990s while led by Hakeem Olajuwon, All Star center and NBA finals MVP during both championship runs.

The most recent champions, the Boston Celtics, greatly won on the energetic efforts of point guard Rajon Rondo, a Muslim according to Wiki Web sites.

The Detroit Pistons, the 2004 champions, won behind the efforts of Rasheed Wallace and Mehmet Okur, both Muslims.

And the team that dethroned the Pistons to win the 2005 championship was the San Antonio Spurs, who claimed Nazr Mohammed as a key player.

One special note would be the Chicago Bulls, who won six championships in the 1990s. Although the Bulls never had a practicing Muslim on their roster at the time, it is noted on many Web sites that two leading players on their teams, Scottie Pippen and Craig Hodges, are practicing Muslims today. Clearly, Allah has a policy of rewarding teams that are predestined to have Muslim players.

However, just having a Muslim player doesn’t guarantee success. Our own Denver Nuggets have boasted three Muslim players – Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Mamadou N’Diaye – with only Abdul Rauf seeing time in the NBA playoffs. Perhaps the addition of a Muslim player could take us further next year, though? After all, Shaquille O’Neal and Shareef Abdur-Rahim are available!

Getting back to the main point – Hedo Turkoglu is the second-best player on the Orlando Magic, behind only Dwight Howard. If history serves correct, the presence of Turkoglu’s Muslimness on the Orlando Magic roster clearly makes the Magic the favorite to win the 2009 NBA Finals.

And sadly, for the Lakers, one might say that it is impossible for their team to win without a Muslim player, based on the contributions of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal. So what does this all mean?

Kobe Bryant – there’s still time to become my Muslim brother.

Ali Hasan is a Beaver Creek resident.

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