From Houston Chronicle
By Safiya Ravat | Published 03:56 p.m., Thursday, May 31, 2012
From left, Muslim basketball players Raheel Azeez, Aqib Gazi, Khary Dixon, Saqib Gazi, Aamir Kidwai, Kazeem Mohamed and Jorge Palomares at Lake Nassau Park Sunday, May 27, 2012, in Nassau Bay. ( Johnny Hanson / Houston Chronicle )
Echoing over the sound of bouncing basketballs, screeching sneakers and “halal” (permissible) trash talk, comes the Islamic call to worship, beckoning mosque-goers to the evening prayer at Bear Creek’s Mustafa Mosque. Beards dripping with sweat, the players clean up before heading inside – a physical and spiritual respite from the demanding game.
The scene is a common one in Houston, where basketball has gained momentum as the sport of choice for Muslims. Hoops outnumber minarets in the city’s more than two dozen mosques, many of which have full-size basketball courts.
And with the NBA playoffs in full swing, it’s not hard to find crowds of men and veiled women gathering in living rooms and Islamic centers to cheer on their favorite teams. Several of them include Muslim players, such as Nazr Mohammed of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is playing the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals.