Oakland, CA — Lesser known Golden State Warrior point guard Nadeem el-Rasheed halted game play earlier this week to pray towards Mecca. el-Rasheed, born Harry Hopkins, changed to his adopted Muslim name later last year after a hasty conversion to Islam.
At about 27 minutes into the Basketball playoff, Mr. el-Rasheed who has been largely benched due to nonperformance, stood and signaled an unplanned timeout to the officials, who promptly halted the basketball game.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said 20 year fan Bob Stephans of Concord, CA who’s been to every Warriors game. “Hopkins [el-Rasheed] stopped the game and laid out this Persian rug or something and started doing that Osama bin Laden thing I see on Fox. What an asshole.”
Officials for Oracle Arena said they had no comment about the incident, however the Warriors issued a statement the organization aggressively supports diversity and supports all of its employee religious practices.
“We support everyone in the Warriors family, ” said Golden State Warriors director of communication Bethany Millbright. “We are committed to diversity and celebrate Mr. el-Rasheed’s demonstration of his 1st Amendment rights. In fact, we are working with the NBA to create additional religious exemption timeouts to accommodate these types of prayer rituals.”
Mr. el-Rasheed’s prayer session lasted over 5 minutes. And even though the usually tolerant San Francisco Bay Area crowd would encourage such a diverse religious expression, many were alarmed about how this “sacred timeout” was conducted.
“I’m all for people celebrating their religions, you know?” Said an anonymous Berkeley man. “But when they started ringing bells and blasting the Islamic prayers over the PA system, I have to admit it seemed a bit out of place.”
According to a insider close to the Warriors, the team knew about Mr. el-Rasheed’s call to prayer prior to the game, and fully supported his actions.
The NBA is Looking Into the Incident
As for the NBA, they issued a statement similar to the Warriors, however it was a bit more conservative.
“We acknowledge the right of every NBA player to participate in their religion of choice, however the NBA wishes to keep such celebrations off the court where ever necessary. We will be examining the Golden State Warriors request for a ‘sacred timeout,’ and will provide a ruling sometime next year.”
Mr. el-Rasheed says he’s not sorry for the disruption, but admits that he didn’t consider others before making the timeout request.
“It was just the time for prayer,” said Mr. el-Rasheed. “I think next time I’ll check with management to make sure it’s OK.”