Junior Jordans at Nike camp have pedigrees
INDIANAPOLIS -- When Mustapha Farrakhan showed up at the NBPA Top 100 camp last month, his new buddies all wanted to know if he was related to the other Farrakhan.
Yes, Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, is his grandfather, but Mustapha is following a different script -- and he's proving it this summer.
"I don't feel any pressure because being a Farrakhan, everybody doesn't know us as a basketball family," he said.
The talented 6-foot-3 shooting guard wants to change that perception, and this week's Nike All-America Camp might help. In the first three days, Farrakhan strung together impressive performances in front of a who's who of college coaches and some NBA scouts.
He also blends into a camp that includes several children of famous sports figures, including Jeffrey Jordan, whose father, Michael, has watched his son every day.
It's difficult not to associate a Farrakhan with the family business, as his father, also named Mustapha, is a supreme captain in the controversial Nation of Islam. But Farrakhan tries to live like a typical teenager.
He likes sports and music. He attends church each Sunday and avoids controversy. His shy, cautious personality doesn't lend itself to making political speeches.
In a perfect world, Farrakhan would rather play basketball than talk about it, and the way he's handled himself as the grandson of an international figure has impressed his father.
"I think he's developed the right way under the circumstances," the father said. "Basketball-wise, he's focused on that and stays away from politics, and that's good for him."
Farrakhan fits in among the 120 players at the Nike camp. Besides Farrakhan and Jordan, there is:
• Mike Singletary, son of the Bears Hall of Fame linebacker and leader of the 1985 Super Bowl team.
• Cory Higgins, son of former Bulls player Rod Higgins.
• Jerai Grant, son of former NBA player Harvey and nephew of former Bulls player Horace.
"It's OK to not be the biggest Chicago celebrity here," Singletary said, smiling. "It's really not my thing anyway. I just try to play my game."
Other famed connections in Indy include Jai Lucas, whose father, John, was a former No. 1 draft pick; Michael Auriemma, son of the Connecticut women's basketball coach who was elected to the basketball Hall of Fame this year; and Ralph Sampson III, a 6-foot-10, 233-pound forward who carries the same name as his dad -- another former No. 1 pick.
With all of them here, they, like Farrakhan, are coping with comparisons and questions about their childhood. The responses vary.
While Grant appears to enjoy the attention, Singletary and Sampson would rather avoid it.
Jordan, who walked into his first camp last year with a T-shirt bearing his father's picture, has tried to become camp comedian. In a bio distributed by the camp staff, Jordan lists his favorite player as Chris Paul and his favorite team as the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But he's also more confident in his approach to the media and the game.
"I'm a lot more comfortable, and it's still fun," he said. "I think the hype has kind of died down."
The questions are only beginning for Farrakahn, though.
The soon-to-be senior, who comes from the same Thornton Township High School that produced athletes like Washington Redskins receiver Antwaan Randle El, is grilled on how he got involved in basketball and his family's passion for the game.
His father missed only one game this season, when he was on an overseas trip. When his grandfather attends, the youngest Farrakhan can always expect to get a little advice.
"He likes basketball, and he likes to watch me play," Farrakhan said. "He tells me to stay in position."
Some believe that if Farrakhan didn't prove himself on the rough-and-tumble Chicago basketball circuit where he averaged 17.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists, he's certainly succeeded this summer as he competes against better players.
"The whole group of guys here is great," he said. "In Chicago, you don't find everyone is this big, so it makes it more challenging. That's why I'm here, I want to get better."
Among the schools that are interested are Wisconsin and Indiana State.
But he's letting his father handle most of the recruiting issues.
"We've always taught that a good name is better than silver or gold so anything you do as a service to your community or humanity makes your name stronger," the father said. "You try not to do anything that would damage your name. ... But people are human and fallible so we hope and pray he will be best he can be."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press