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The Pre Curry

A recent tweet by Phil Jackson compared Mahmoud Abdul Rauf (previously known as Chris Jackson) to Steph Curry.  The comment brought up a good bit of ridicule, but it could be that Jackson was recalling the results of a game he coached in the 95-96 season during which the Bulls were playing at a remarkable level and set a record going 72-10 regular season, then cruised through the playoffs.  A middling to poor Denver team beat the Bulls in February that year.  Denver actually crushed the mighty Bulls in the first half, withstood a monumental comeback and won the game.

The guy who made it all possible was Mahmoud Abdul Rauf, simply one of the quickest guards(players) in the NBA, a remarkable outside shooter (one of the great free throw shooters of all time), and a guy who with his accuracy and quicks could get off an outside shot or whip past a defender with equal skill.  Of course his style is different than Curry's, but his strengths of quickness, elusiveness and outside shooting emulate Curry's strengths.

Abdul Rauf befuddled the Bulls, shredded their defense, scored points and assists, and most amazingly couldn't be stopped by the great Michael Jordan;   too quick, too elusive, too basketball clever.  At one point in the game Steve Kerr tries to guard Abdul Rauf and is simply outclassed.  This of course brings to mind how helpless Kerr would be if there was a competition between today's Warriors and that '96 Bulls team.  Kerr, as he acknowledges, would be a hopeless defensive liability.

In any case the proof is in the viewing...a sort of precursor to Curry....uttterly crushing the best team in the league and possibly the best team ever in the NBA.

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I suspect a lot of people don't remember how unbelievably good Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) was in college. He averaged 30.2 ppg his freshman year at LSU, was a first-team All-American (as a freshman and a sophomore), and is LSU's all-time freshman scoring leader (Maravich didn't play as a freshman). I remember thinking he was the best college shooting guard I'd ever seen in my life. I'm not sure why his NBA career tanked, but tank it did - this guy had talent coming out of every pore in his body.

I remember reading an article about him around twenty years ago  - the thing that stuck with me is that he has a form of Tourette's Syndrome, and he said that he had to quickly touch a hot stove burner, and keep quickly touching it until it 'felt just right.' He was also the player who had to shoot ten straight swishes in practice, and if one of them didn't sound 'exactly right,' he'd start over again - his Tourette's drove him to become a shooting machine. I just now found the article here:

Nov 15, 1993 - "Quest for Perfection" by Rick Reilly on si.com

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I suspect a lot of people don't remember how unbelievably good Chris Jackson (now Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) was in college. He averaged 30.2 ppg his freshman year at LSU, was a first-team All-American (as a freshman and a sophomore), and is LSU's all-time freshman scoring leader (Maravich didn't play as a freshman). I remember thinking he was the best college shooting guard I'd ever seen in my life. I'm not sure why his NBA career tanked, but tank it did - this guy had talent coming out of every pore in his body.

I remember reading an article about him around twenty years ago  - the thing that stuck with me is that he has a form of Tourette's Syndrome, and he said that he had to quickly touch a hot stove burner, and keep quickly touching it until it 'felt just right.' He was also the player who had to shoot ten straight swishes in practice, and if one of them didn't sound 'exactly right,' he'd start over again - his Tourette's drove him to become a shooting machine. I just now found the article here:

Nov 15, 1993 - "Quest for Perfection" by Rick Reilly on si.com

I remember him also.  In his freshman season he was undoubtedly the quickest person in college basketball...had to be one of the quickest ever.  In his sophomore season he played on one of the most remarkable viewable college basketball teams ever:  the uber quick and talented Chris Jackson plus Shaq, plus an equally large additional player, also talented like Shaq.

On face value it seemed that team should have gone undefeated and CRUSHED every other team.  They didn't. Good season but not great.  They lacked something...I can't recall why....but they had more than their share of losses.

Chris Jackson/Abdul-Rauf....I don't know why he wasn't a super duper star in the NBA.  It could have had something to do with his conversion from Christianity to Islam and his unwillingness to stand for the national anthem after making that change.  Could have been other things.  I don't recall.  He had the innate skills of a Nate Archibald...(the then quickest player in the NBA in the 70's).   Every so often Abdul-Rauf would have these remarkable breakout games...but they were infrequent rather than the rule.

In any case he additionally had "Curry" type skills from distance, between elusiveness, outside shooting, an ability to drive, and he worked the picks that his team set for him...as he was an offensive mainstay.  At his best a precursor to Curry...(I think Phil Jackson's comments make sense).  But he never became a star, certainly not one that reflected his package of talents.  I don't know why.

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Chris Jackson/Abdul-Rauf

I have no trouble at all thinking of Muhammad Ali (instead of Cassius Clay) or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (instead of Lew Alcindor), but that's because they changed their names in 1964 and 1971, respectively - I remember Lew Alcindor, but I was young enough where I could still easily make the transition.

But Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf will always be Chris Jackson to me, because that's who I watched in awe. Same with World B. Free (previously Lloyd Free) - I guess who they were when you watched them play dictates how you recall their names.

No disrespect intended - it's my problem, not his.

I also think the "Pre-Curry" moniker is quite accurate.

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