"The one thing
that does upset me though is that this was done simply because we're Moslems,
because we want to practice a religion. Even the worst white racists don't
think the way the people who attacked us do."
The Black Muslims
once asked Abdul-Jabbar to join them and he refused. He does not view the sect
as a religion, but rather as a group of black nationalists. He calls their
doctrine, which contains repeated reference to "white devils," a
demonology, not a theology.
His refutation of
the Black Muslims and his celebrity make Abdul-Jabbar as vulnerable as Malcolm,
and the authorities are well aware of it. Two weeks ago in Chicago, the
headquarters for the Black Muslims, policemen occupied rooms at both ends of
Abdul-Jabbar's hotel corridor and he was escorted to the arena by police cars
while teammates rode in a bus. After the game he left the same way, meeting the
rest of the Bucks at an expressway interchange en route to Milwaukee.
A man of practiced
detachment, Abdul-Jabbar chats easily with his escort and admits he likes cops;
his father is a lieutenant in the New York City Transit Authority force. But
Allen, a teammate in both college and the pros, sees things deeper inside.
"I can sense that it bothers him," Allen says. "He carries it
around within him. But it's not there on the court. At no time is it on the
court." Which goes a long way toward explaining why the Bucks are doing so
well in a very bad year.