When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began his Democratic National Convention speech, which told the story of a Muslim U.S. Army captain who gave his life while fighting in Iraq, he had no idea he was teeing up one of the most memorable moments of the election season.
That moment came when Khizr Khan, the fallen soldier’s father, took to the stage, pulled a copy of the Constitution from his pocket and condemned Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric.
Abdul-Jabbar sat down with The Huffington Post this week to discuss his new book and recount the moments leading up to Khan’s powerful remarks. The former basketball star told HuffPost’s Jacques Morel that he didn’t know who Khan was when he met him backstage at the convention.
“And then when I saw him talking, I was like, ‘Wow, this is really something here. This is very intense and very heartfelt on his part,’” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday.
The speech sparked a war of words between Khan and Trump. The GOP nominee criticized Khan’s wife, Ghazala, for staying silent while on stage. Trump’s insensitive comments even pushed some Republican politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), to defend the Khan family.
Abdul-Jabbar said the feud revealed Trump’s true colors.
“I think it forced Trump to respond in a way that really showed his lack of compassion and lack of understanding of what’s going on,” he said. “America has changed and it’s something that we have to accept, and if he can’t accept it, it’s going to be problems.”
Hear more about the unforgettable DNC moment in the video above and check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s full interview here.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.