|Born||January 21, 1963|
|Nationality||Nigerian / American|
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||255 lb (116 kg)|
|High school||Muslim Teachers College|
|NBA draft||1984 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall|
|Selected by the Houston Rockets|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||26,946 (21.8 ppg)|
|Rebounds||13,747 (11.1 rpg)|
|Blocks||3,830 (3.1 bpg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|FIBA Hall of Fame as player|
Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon ( // ; Yoruba: [olaɟuwɔ̃] ; born January 21, 1963), nicknamed "the Dream", is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played the center position in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the Houston Rockets and eventually the Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 2016, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest centers and one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston under head coach Guy Lewis. His college career for the Cougars included three trips to the Final Four. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. He combined with the 7 feet 4 inches (224 cm) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the "Twin Towers". The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics. After Sampson was traded to the Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets' undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993).
Despite very nearly being traded during a bitter contract dispute before the 1992–93 season, he remained in Houston. He became the first non-American to be an All-Star and start in an All-Star Game, the first non-American to win NBA MVP, the first non-American to win NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and in the 1993–94 season, he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks—avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing—and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic. In 1996, Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold medal-winning United States national team, and he was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league's all-time leader in blocks (3,830) and is one of four NBA players to record a quadruple-double.
Hakeem Olajuwon was born to Salim and Abike Olajuwon, working-class Yoruba owners of a cement business in Lagos, Nigeria.He was the third of eight children. He credits his parents with instilling virtues of hard work and discipline into him and his siblings: "They taught us to be honest, work hard, respect our elders, and believe in ourselves." Olajuwon has expressed displeasure at his childhood in Nigeria being characterized as backward. "Lagos is a very cosmopolitan city ... There are many ethnic groups. I grew up in an environment at schools where there were all different types of people."
During his youth, Olajuwon was a soccer goalkeeper, which helped give him the footwork and agility to balance his size and strength in basketball, and also contributed to his shot-blocking ability.Olajuwon did not play basketball until the age of 15 in high school, when he entered a local tournament while at the Muslim Teachers College in Lagos, Nigeria. It has been said that a coach in Nigeria once asked him to dunk and demonstrated while standing on a chair. Olajuwon then tried to stand on the chair himself. When redirected by staff not to use the chair, Hakeem could initially not dunk the basketball.
Despite early struggles, Olajuwon said: "Basketball is something that is so unique. That immediately I pick up the game and, you know, realize that this is the life for me. All the other sports just become obsolete."
Olajuwon emigrated from Nigeria to play basketball at the University of Houston under Cougars coach Guy Lewis. Olajuwon was not highly recruited and was merely offered a visit to the university to work out for the coaching staff, based on a recommendation from a friend of Lewis who had seen Olajuwon play.He later recalled that when he originally arrived at the airport in 1980 for the visit, no representative of the school was there to greet him. When he called the staff, they told him to take a taxi out to the university.
After redshirting his freshman year in 1980–81 because he could not yet get clearance from the NCAA to play,Olajuwon came mostly off the bench and served as the Cougars' sixth man as a redshirt freshman in 1981–82, averaging 8.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks, shooting 60% from the field in 18 minutes per game as Houston was eliminated in the Final Four by the eventual NCAA champion, North Carolina. Olajuwon sought advice from the coaching staff about how to increase his playing time, and they advised him to work out with local Houston resident and multiple NBA MVP winner, Moses Malone. Malone, who was then a center on the NBA's Houston Rockets, played games every off-season with several NBA players at the Fonde Recreation Center. Olajuwon joined the workouts and went head to head with Malone in several games throughout the summer. Olajuwon credited this experience with rapidly improving his game: "The way Moses helped me is by being out there playing and allowing me to go against that level of competition. He was the best center in the NBA at the time, so I was trying to improve my game against the best."
Olajuwon returned from that summer a different player. He was nicknamed "the Dream" during his basketball career after he dunked so effortlessly that his college coach said it "looked like a dream." [ citation needed ]He and his teammates (including Clyde Drexler) formed what was dubbed "Phi Slama Jama", the first slam-dunking "fraternity", so named because of its above-the-rim prowess. In his sophomore and junior years he helped the Cougars advance to consecutive NCAA championship games, where they lost to North Carolina State on a last-second tip-in in 1983 and a Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown team in 1984. He averaged 13.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 5.1 blocks in 1982–83 and 16.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.6 blocks in 1983–84. Olajuwon won the 1983 NCAA Tournament Player of the Year award, even though he played for the losing team in the final game. To date, he is the last player from a losing side to be granted this honor. Drexler departed for the NBA in 1983, leaving Olajuwon the lone star on the team.
After the 1983–84 season, Olajuwon debated whether to stay in college or declare early for the NBA draft. At that time, before the NBA Draft Lottery was introduced in 1985, the first pick was awarded by coin flip. Olajuwon recalled: "I really believed that Houston was going to win the coin flip and pick the first draft choice, and I really wanted to play in Houston so I had to make that decision (to leave early)." [ citation needed ]His intuition proved correct, and a lucky toss placed Houston ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers. Olajuwon was considered the top amateur prospect in the summer of 1984 over fellow collegians and future NBA stars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton, and was selected first overall by the Rockets in the 1984 NBA draft.
In his autobiography Living the Dream, Olajuwon mentions an intriguing draft trade offered to the Rockets that would have sent Clyde Drexler and the number two pick in the 1984 NBA draft from Portland in exchange for Ralph Sampson.Had the Rockets made the deal, Olajuwon states the Rockets could have selected Jordan with the number two pick to play alongside Olajuwon and Drexler, who had established chemistry playing together during their Phi Slama Jama days in college. Sportswriter Sam Smith speculates that such a trade "would have changed league history and maybe the entire Michael Jordan legend." From 1991 to 1998, every NBA championship team included either Jordan or Olajuwon; furthermore, at least one of Drexler, Jordan, and Olajuwon was involved in every NBA Finals from 1990 to 1998.
The Rockets had immediate success during Olajuwon's rookie season, as their win-loss record improved from 29 to 53 in 1983–84 to 48–34 in 1984–85. ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form the original NBA "Twin Towers" duo. Olajuwon averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.68 blocks in his rookie season. He finished as runner-up to Michael Jordan in the 1985 Rookie of the Year voting, and was the only other rookie to receive any votes.He teamed with the 1984 Rookie of the Year, 7
Olajuwon averaged 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game during his second pro season (1985–86).The Rockets finished 51–31, and advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals where they faced the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets won the series fairly easily, four games to one, shocking the sports world and landing Olajuwon on the cover of Sports Illustrated . Olajuwon scored 75 points in victories in games three and four, and after the series Lakers coach Pat Riley remarked "We tried everything. We put four bodies on him. We helped from different angles. He's just a great player." The Rockets advanced to the 1986 NBA Finals where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics, whose 1986 team is often considered one of the best teams in NBA history.
During the 1987–88 season, Sampson (who was struggling with knee injuries that would eventually end his career prematurely) was traded to the Golden State Warriors. The 1988–89 season was Olajuwon's first full season as the Rockets' undisputed leader. This change also coincided with the hiring of new coach Don Chaney. The Rockets ended the regular season with a record of 45–37,and Olajuwon finished the season as the league leader in rebounds (13.5 per game) by a full rebound per game over Charles Barkley. This performance was consistent with his averages of 24.8 points and 3.4 blocks. Olajuwon posted exceptional playoff numbers of 37.5 ppg and 16.8 rpg, plus a record for points in a four-game playoff series (150). Nevertheless, the Rockets were eliminated in the first round by the Seattle SuperSonics, 3 games to 1.
The 1989–90 season was a disappointment for the Rockets. They finished the season with a 41–41 record,and though they made the playoffs, were eliminated in four games by Los Angeles. Olajuwon put up one of the most productive defensive seasons by an interior player in the history of the NBA. He won the NBA rebounding crown (14.0 per game) again, this time by an even larger margin; a full two rebounds per game over David Robinson, and led the league in blocks by averaging 4.6 per game. He is the only player since the NBA started recording blocked shots in 1973–74 to average 14+ rebounds and 4.5+ blocked shots per game in the same season. In doing so he joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton as the only players in NBA history (at that point) to lead the league in rebounding and shot-blocking in the same season. Olajuwon also recorded a quadruple-double during the season, becoming only the third player in NBA history to do so.
The Rockets finished the 1990–91 season with a record of 52–30under NBA Coach of the Year Chaney. Olajuwon averaged 21.8 points per game in 1990–91, but due to an injury to his eyesocket caused by an elbow from Bill Cartwright, did not play in enough games (56) to qualify for the rebounding title. Otherwise, he would have won it for a third consecutive year, averaging 13.8 a game (league leader Robinson averaged 13.0 rpg). He also averaged a league-leading 3.95 blocks per game. However, the Rockets were swept in the playoffs by the LA Lakers.
The following season was a low point for the Rockets during Olajuwon's tenure. They finished 42–40,and missed the playoffs for the first time in Olajuwon's career. He missed two weeks early in the season due to an accelerated heartbeat. Despite his usual strong numbers, he could not lift his team out of mediocrity. Since making the Finals in 1986, the Rockets had made the playoffs five times, but their record in those playoff series was 1–5 and they were eliminated in the first round four times. Following the season, Olajuwon requested a trade in part because of his bad contract; his salary was considerably low for a top center, and his contract specifically forbade re-negotiation. He also expressed displeasure with the organization's efforts to surround him with quality players. He felt the Rockets had cut corners at every turn, and were more concerned with the bottom line than winning. Management had also infuriated Olajuwon during the season when they accused of him of faking a hamstring injury because of his unhappiness over his contract situation. His agent cited his differences with the organization as being "irreconcilable", and Olajuwon publicly insulted owner Charlie Thomas and the team's front office. With the 1992–93 season approaching, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle said that Olajuwon being dealt was "as close to a sure thing as there is."
Nonetheless, he was not traded and the Rockets began the season with a new coach, Rudy Tomjanovich. Olajuwon improved his passing in 1992–93,setting a new career-high of 3.5 assists per game. This willingness to pass the ball increased his scoring, making it more difficult for opposing teams to double and triple-team him. Olajuwon set a new career-high with 26.1 points per game. The Rockets set a new franchise record with 55 wins, and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, pushing the Seattle SuperSonics to a seventh game before losing in overtime, 103–100. He finished second in the MVP race to Charles Barkley with 22 votes to Barkley's 59. The team rewarded him with a four-year contract extension toward the end of the regular season. In stark contrast to the previous year, the Rockets entered the 1993–94 season as a team on the rise. They had a solid core of young players and veterans, with a leader in Olajuwon who was entering his prime.
Olajuwon gained a reputation as a clutch performer and also as one of the top centers in history based on his performances in the 1993–94 and 1994–95 seasons.He outplayed centers such as Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Dikembe Mutombo, and other defensive stalwarts such as Dennis Rodman and Karl Malone. Many of his battles were with his fellow Texas-based rival David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs. In the 30 head–to–head match-ups during the seven seasons from the 1989 to 1996, when both Olajuwon and Robinson were in their prime, Olajuwon averaged 26.3 points per game, shooting 47.6% from the field, while Robinson averaged 22.1 and 46.8%.
Olajuwon led the Rockets to a championship in the 1994 NBA Finals in a seven-game series against the New York Knicks, the team of one of Olajuwon's perennial rivals since his collegiate days, Patrick Ewing. After being down 2–1, the Knicks took a 3–2 lead into Game 6. The Rockets were defending an 86–84 lead when in the last second, Knicks guard John Starks (who had already scored 27 points) went up for what would have been a Finals-winning three. Olajuwon pulled off a clutch play by blocking the shot as time expired.In Game 7, Olajuwon posted a game–high 25 points and 10 rebounds, which helped defeat the Knicks, bringing the first professional sports championship to Houston since the Houston Oilers won the American Football League championship in 1961. Olajuwon dominated Ewing in their head–to–head match-up, outscoring him in every game of the series and averaging 26.9 points per game on 50% shooting, compared to Ewing's 18.9 and 36.3%. For his efforts Olajuwon was named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
Olajuwon was at the pinnacle of his career. In 1994, he became the only player in NBA history to win the MVP, the Championship, the Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.He was also the first foreign-born player to win the league's MVP award.
On December 1, 1994, Olajuwon recorded a triple-double 37 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a 113–109 win over the Golden State Warriors.But despite a slow start by the team, and Olajuwon missing eight games toward the end of the season with anemia, the Rockets repeated as champions in 1995. They were bolstered in part by the acquisition of Clyde Drexler, Olajuwon's former University of Houston "Phi Slama Jama" teammate, in a mid-season trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. Olajuwon averaged 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game during the regular season. Olajuwon displayed perhaps the most impressive moments of his career during the playoffs. San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson, recently crowned league MVP, was outplayed by Olajuwon in the Conference Finals: Olajuwon averaged 35.3 points on .560 shooting (Robinson's numbers were 23.8 and .449) and outscored Robinson 81–41 in the final two games. In the series-clinching game, Olajuwon recorded 39 points, 17 rebounds and 5 blocks. When asked later what a team could do to "solve" Olajuwon, Robinson told LIFE magazine: "Hakeem? You don't solve Hakeem." The Rockets won every road game that series. In the NBA Finals, the Rockets swept the Orlando Magic, who were led by a young Shaquille O'Neal. Olajuwon outscored O'Neal in every game, scoring more than 30 points in each and raising his regular-season rate by five while O'Neal's production dropped by one. Olajuwon was again named Finals MVP. He averaged 33.0 points on .531 shooting, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.81 blocks in the 1995 Playoffs. As in 1994, Olajuwon was the only Rockets All-Star.
The Rockets' two-year championship run ended when they were eliminated in the second round of the 1996 NBA Playoffs by the eventual Western Conference Champion Seattle SuperSonics. Michael Jordan had returned from an 18-month hiatus in March 1995, and his Chicago Bulls dominated the league for the next three years (1996–98). The Bulls and Rockets never met in the NBA Playoffs. The Rockets posted a 57–win season in 1996–97 season when they added Charles Barkley to their roster. They started the season 21–2,but lost the Western Conference Finals in six games to the Utah Jazz. After averaging 26.9 and 23.2 points in 1995–96 and 1996–97 respectively, Olajuwon's point production dipped to 16.4 in 1997–98. After the Rockets lost in the first round in five games to the Jazz in 1998, Drexler retired. In 1998–99 the Rockets acquired veteran All-Star Scottie Pippen and finished 31–19 in the lockout-shortened regular season. Olajuwon's scoring production rose to 18.9 points per game, and he made his twelfth and final All-NBA Team. However, they lost in the first round again, this time to the Lakers. After the season, Pippen was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Houston began to rebuild, bringing in young guards Cuttino Mobley and 2000 NBA co-Rookie of the Year Steve Francis. On August 2, 2001,after refusing a $13 million deal with the Rockets, Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors for draft picks (the highest of which was used by Houston to draft Boštjan Nachbar at #15 in the 2002 NBA draft), with the player having a three-year contract that would give him $18 million. In his first game with the Raptors, he scored 11 points in just 22 minutes of playing time against the Magic. Olajuwon averaged career lows of 7.1 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in what would be his final season in the NBA, as he decided to retire in the fall of 2002, due to a back injury. Olajuwon retired as the all–time league leader in total blocked shots with 3,830, although shot-blocking did not become an official statistic until the 1973–74 NBA season.
Shortly after his retirement, his #34 jersey was retired by the Rockets.
For his NBA career, Olajuwon averaged 21.8 points on 51% shooting, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.1 blocks in 1238 career games.
In 1980, before arriving in the US, Olajuwon played for a Nigerian junior team in the All-Africa Games. This created some problems when he tried to play for the United States men's national basketball team initially.FIBA rules prohibit players from representing more than one country in international competition, and players must go through a three-year waiting period for any nationality change. Olajuwon was ineligible for selection to the "Dream Team" as he hadn't become a US citizen.
Olajuwon became a naturalized American citizen on April 2, 1993.For the 1996 Olympics, he received a FIBA exemption and was eligible to play for Dream Team II. The team went on to win the gold medal in Atlanta. During the tournament, he shared his minutes with Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson. He played 7 out of the 8 games and started 2. He averaged 5 points and 3.1 rebounds and had 8 assists and 6 steals in seven games.
If I had to pick a center [for an all-time best team], I would take Olajuwon. That leaves out Shaq, Patrick Ewing. It leaves out Wilt Chamberlain. It leaves out a lot of people. And the reason I would take Olajuwon is very simple: he is so versatile because of what he can give you from that position. It's not just his scoring, not just his rebounding or not just his blocked shots. People don't realize he was in the top seven [in NBA history] in steals. He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him.
Olajuwon was highly skilled as both an offensive and defensive player. On defense, his rare combination of quickness and strength allowed him to guard a wide range of players effectively. He was noted for both his outstanding shot-blocking ability and his unique talent (for a frontcourt player) for stealing the ball. Olajuwon is the only player in NBA history to record more than 200 blocks and 200 steals in the same season. He averaged 3.09 blocks and 1.75 steals per game for his career.He is the only center to rank among the top ten all-time in steals. Olajuwon was also an outstanding rebounder, with a career average of 11.1 rebounds per game. He led the NBA in rebounding twice, during the 1989 and 1990 seasons. He was twice named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection.
On offense, Olajuwon was famous for his deft shooting touch around the basket and his nimble footwork in the low post. With the ball, Hakeem displayed a vast array of fakes and spin moves, highlighted in his signature "Dream Shake" (see below). He was a prolific scorer, averaging 21.8 points per game for his career,and an above-average offensive rebounder, averaging 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. Additionally, Olajuwon became a skilled dribbler with an ability to score in "face-up" situations like a perimeter player. He is one of only four players to have recorded a quadruple-double in the NBA, which have only been possible since the 1973–74 season, when blocked shots and steals were first kept as statistics in the NBA.
The best footwork I've ever seen from a big man.
Olajuwon established himself as an unusually skilled offensive player for a big man, perfecting a set of fakes and spin moves that became known as his trademark Dream Shake. Executed with uncanny speed and power, they are still regarded as the pinnacle of "big man" footwork.Shaquille O'Neal stated: "Hakeem has five moves, then four countermoves – that gives him 20 moves." Olajuwon himself traced the move back to the soccer-playing days of his youth. "The Dream Shake was actually one of my soccer moves which I translated to basketball. It would accomplish one of three things: one, to misdirect the opponent and make him go the opposite way; two, to freeze the opponent and leave him devastated in his tracks; three, to shake off the opponent and giving him no chance to contest the shot." The Dream Shake was very difficult to defend, much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's sky-hook.
One notable Dream Shake happened in Game 2 of the 1995 Western Conference Finals against the Spurs. With David Robinson guarding him, Olajuwon performed a cross-over, drove to the basket and faked a layup. Robinson, an excellent defender, kept up with Olajuwon and remained planted. Olajuwon spun counterclockwise and faked a jump shot. Robinson, who was voted the 1995 NBA MVP, fell for the fake and jumped to block the shot. With Robinson in the air, Olajuwon performed an up-and-under move and made an easy layup.
Olajuwon has referred to basketball as a science, and described his signature move in vivid detail: "When the point guard throws me the ball, I jump to get the ball. But this jump is the set-up for the second move, the baseline move. I call it the 'touch landing.' The defender is waiting for me to come down because I jumped but I'm gone before I land. Defenders say 'Wow, he's quick,' but they don't know that where I'm going is predetermined. He's basing it on quickness, but the jump is to set him up. Before I come down, I make my move. When you jump, you turn as you land. Boom! The defender can't react because he's waiting for you to come down to defend you. Now, the first time when you showed that quickness, he has to react to that quickness, so you can fake baseline and go the other way with your jump hook. All this is part of the Dream Shake. The Dream Shake is you dribble and then you jump; now you don't have a pivot foot. When I dribble I move it so when I come here, I jump. By jumping, I don't have a pivot foot now. I dribble so now I can use either foot. I can go this way or this way. So he's frozen, he doesn't know which way I'm going to go. That is the shake. You put him in the mix and you jump stop and now you have choice of pivot foot. He doesn't know where you're gonna turn and when."
Olajuwon married his current wife, Dalia Asafi, on August 8, 1996, in Houston.The couple have four children together; two daughters, Rahmah and Aisha and two sons, Abdullah and Abdul. Olajuwon also has an older daughter, Abisola from a previous relationship with Lita Spencer, whom he met in college. Abisola represented the West Girls in the McDonald's All-American Game and played in the WNBA.
In addition to English, Olajuwon is fluent in French, Arabic, and the Nigerian languages of Yoruba and Ekiti.He wrote his autobiography, Living the Dream, with co-author Peter Knobler in 1996. During his 18-year NBA career, Olajuwon earned more than $110 million in salary.
Olajuwon, who earlier in his career signed a shoe endorsement deal with LA Gear, later became the face of Spalding's athletic shoe line and endorsed The Dream, a sneaker that retailed in various outlets (such as Payless ShoeSource) for $34.99.This made him one of the very few well-known players in any professional sport to endorse a sneaker not from Nike, Reebok, Adidas, or other high-visibility retail brands. As Olajuwon declared: "How can a poor working mother with three boys buy Nikes or Reeboks that cost $120? ... She can't. So kids steal these shoes from stores and from other kids. Sometimes they kill for them."
Attending college was also an important priority to Olajuwon. At the University of Houston, Olajuwon was a physical education major.
In Olajuwon's college career and early years in the NBA, he was often undisciplined, talking back to officials, getting in minor fights with other players and amassing technical fouls. Later, Olajuwon took an active interest in spirituality,becoming a more devout Muslim. On March 9, 1991, he altered his name from Akeem to the more conventional spelling of Hakeem, saying, "I'm not changing the spelling of my name, I'm correcting it". He later recalled, "I studied the Qur'an every day. At home, at the mosque ... I would read it in airplanes, before games and after them. I was soaking up the faith and learning new meanings each time I turned a page. I didn't dabble in the faith, I gave myself over to it." "His religion dominates his life", Drexler said in 1995. Olajuwon was still recognized as one of the league's elite centers despite his strict observance of Ramadan (i.e., abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours for about a month), which occurred during the playing season throughout his career. Olajuwon was noted as sometimes playing better during the month of Ramadan, and in 1995 he was named NBA Player of the Month in February, even though Ramadan began on February 1 of that year.
Olajuwon played for 20 consecutive seasons in Houston, first collegiately for the University of Houston Cougars and then professionally with the Houston Rockets.He is considered a Houston icon and one of the city's most beloved citizens. Olajuwon has had great success in the Houston real estate market, with his estimated profits exceeding $100 million. He buys in cash-only purchases, as it is against Islamic law to pay interest. Olajuwon splits his time between Jordan, where he moved with his family to pursue Islamic studies, and his ranch near Houston.
In the 2006 NBA offseason, Olajuwon opened his first Big Man Camp, where he teaches young frontcourt players the finer points of playing in the post. While Olajuwon never expressed an interest in coaching a team, he wishes to give back to the game by helping younger players. When asked whether the league was becoming more guard-oriented and big men were being de-emphasized, Olajuwon responded, "For a big man who is just big, maybe. But not if you play with speed, with agility. It will always be a big man's game if the big man plays the right way. On defense, the big man can rebound and block shots. On offense, he draws double-teams and creates opportunities. He can add so much, make it easier for the entire team." He runs the camp for free.Olajuwon has worked with several NBA players, including power forward Emeka Okafor, and center Yao Ming. In September 2009, he also worked with Kobe Bryant on the post moves and the Dream Shake. More recently he has been working with Dwight Howard, helping him diversify his post moves and encouraging more mental focus. In the 2011 offseason, LeBron James flew to Houston and spent time working with Olajuwon. Olajuwon has also worked with Ömer Aşık, Donatas Motiejūnas, Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried.
Olajuwon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2008. On April 10, 2008, the Rockets unveiled a sculpture in honor of him outside the Toyota Center.
Olajuwon attended the 2013 NBA Draft to bid farewell to retiring commissioner David Stern as Stern made his announcement for the final pick of the first round. Olajuwon was the first pick announced by Stern back in 1984.
On August 1, 2015, Olajuwon made a special appearance for Team Africa at the 2015 NBA Africa exhibition game.He became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Won an NBA championship||*||Led the league||NBA record|
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Ralph Lee Sampson Jr. is an American retired basketball player. He is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A 7-foot-4 phenom, three-time College Player of the Year, and first selection in the 1983 NBA draft, Sampson brought heavy expectations with him to the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The 1995 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1994–95 National Basketball Association (NBA) season. The series pitted the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic against the defending NBA champion and Western Conference champion Houston Rockets. The pre-series hype and buildup of the Finals was centered on the meeting of the two centers opposing each other: Shaquille O'Neal of the Magic and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets. Going into the series the matchup was compared to the Bill Russell–Wilt Chamberlain matchup of the 1960s.
Clutch City is a nickname given to the city of Houston, Texas after the city's National Basketball Association (NBA) club, the Houston Rockets.
The 1993–94 NBA season was the Houston Rockets' 27th season in the National Basketball Association, and their 23rd season in Houston. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired Mario Elie from the Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets went off to a great start, winning their first fifteen games of the season to tie the 1948–49 Washington Capitols for the best unbeaten record to open a season, before the Golden State Warriors surpassed it in 2015. After losing to the Atlanta Hawks, 133–111 on the road on December 3, the Rockets won their next seven games as well, falling just one victory shy of tying the 1969–70 Knicks (23–1) for the best record with one defeat in NBA history. However, the Rockets would cool off as the season progressed, at one point losing four games in a row in January. Still, they finished first place in the Midwest Division with a 58–24 record, a franchise record that stood until the 2017-18 team recorded their 59th win.
The 1994–95 NBA season was the Rockets' 28th season in the National Basketball Association, and 24th season in Houston. After winning their first championship, the Rockets went on to win their first nine games of the season. However, with increased competition in the West, management felt a change was needed to win another title. On February 14, the Rockets traded Otis Thorpe to the Portland Trail Blazers for All-Star guard Clyde Drexler, a former teammate of Hakeem Olajuwon at the University of Houston, and three-point specialist Tracy Murray. The team also signed free agent Chucky Brown midway through the season. However, after the trade, the Rockets struggled in the second half of the season posting a record of 17–18 on their way to finishing third in the Midwest Division with a 47–35 record. Olajuwon averaged 27.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.4 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA Third Team, and selected for the 1995 NBA All-Star Game. Drexler averaged 21.4 points per game in 35 games with the Rockets, and was also named to the All-NBA Third Team.
The 1995–96 NBA season was the Rockets' 29th season in the National Basketball Association, and 25th season in Houston. In the offseason, the Rockets signed free agents Mark Bryant and Eldridge Recasner. After two straight NBA championships, the team got a new logo which was actually unveiled aboard the Space Shuttle, and got new pinstripe uniforms adding dark navy blue to their color scheme. The Rockets got off to a fast start winning ten of their first eleven games. However, injuries would be an issue all year as Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell and Mario Elie were all out for long stretches. Midway through the season, the team signed free agent Sam Mack, who previously played in the Continental Basketball Association. Despite the injuries and a 7-game losing streak in March, the Rockets finished third in the Midwest Division with a 48–34 record, with Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon both being selected for the 1996 NBA All-Star Game. Olajuwon averaged 26.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game as he was named to the All-NBA Second Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Drexler finished second on the team in scoring with 19.3 points per game, while Cassell played a sixth man role averaging 14.5 points per game off the bench.
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Rockets' 30th season in the National Basketball Association, and 26th season in Houston. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward Charles Barkley from the Phoenix Suns, and signed free agents Kevin Willis, Brent Price, undrafted rookie guard Matt Maloney and re-signed three-point specialist Matt Bullard, who was a member of the championship team from the 1994 NBA Finals. The Rockets blasted off to a 21–2 start, but later on struggled posting a six-game losing streak between January and February. Barkley averaged 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, but appeared in just 53 games due to ankle and hip injuries. At midseason, the Rockets signed free agents Eddie Johnson and Sedale Threatt, as they won 14 of their final 17 games, finishing second in the Midwest Division with a 57–25 record. Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and head coach Rudy Tomjanovich all represented the Western Conference during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, Barkley and Drexler did not play due to injuries. Olajuwon averaged 23.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Drexler finished third on the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game, while Maloney led them with 154 three-point field goals, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The 1998–99 NBA season was the Rockets' 32nd season in the National Basketball Association, and 28th season in Houston. To replace the retiring Clyde Drexler, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward, and six-time champion Scottie Pippen from the Chicago Bulls, and signed free agent Antoine Carr, who appeared in two NBA Finals appearances with the Utah Jazz. Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley had previously played together on the U.S. Men's basketball team in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. With the addition of Pippen, the Rockets got off to a 6–2 start, but then lost five of their next seven games. At midseason, the team re-acquired former guard, and three-point specialist Sam Mack from the Vancouver Grizzlies. The Rockets played solid basketball posting a nine-game winning streak in March, and finished third in the Midwest Division with a 31–19 record. Pippen had a solid season averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game. Olajuwon was named to the All-NBA Third Team, leading the Rockets with 18.9 points and 2.5 blocks per game, while Barkley led them with 12.3 rebounds per game. Top draft pick Michael Dickerson, and second round draft pick Cuttino Mobley were both selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.
The Rockets–Spurs rivalry is an NBA rivalry between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. It is also known as the I-10 Rivalry since San Antonio and Houston lie on Interstate 10, it is one of the three National Basketball Association rivalries between teams from Texas, the others featuring Houston and San Antonio versus the Dallas Mavericks.
The Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball franchise based in Houston, Texas. The team plays in the Southwest Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was established in 1967, and played in San Diego, California for four years, before relocating to Houston. They have made the playoffs in 25 of their 42 seasons, and won their division and conference four times each; they also won back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. They won 22 straight games during the 2007–08 season, the third-longest streak in NBA history.
The 1992–93 NBA season was the Rockets' 26th season in the National Basketball Association, and 22nd season in Houston. After missing the playoffs the previous year, the Rockets selected Robert Horry from the University of Alabama with the eleventh pick in the 1992 NBA draft. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired Scott Brooks from the Minnesota Timberwolves. For the season opener, the Rockets traveled to Yokohama, Japan to play their first two games against the Seattle SuperSonics. The Rockets got off to a 14–9 start to the season, but then struggled posting a 7-game losing streak between December and January. However, they won eight consecutive games afterwards, then posted a 15-game winning streak between February and March, and then posted an 11-game winning streak in April. The Rockets finished first place in the Midwest Division with a 55–27 record. Hakeem Olajuwon averaged 26.1 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 4.2 blocks per game, and was named Defensive Player of The Year, and was named to the All-NBA First Team, NBA All-Defensive First Team, and was selected for the 1993 NBA All-Star Game. Horry averaged 10.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, and was selected to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. In the Western Conference First Round of the playoffs, the Rockets defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in five games, but lost in seven to the SuperSonics in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The 1997–98 NBA season was the Rockets' 31st season in the National Basketball Association, and 27th season in Houston. After a slow 3–5 start to the season, the Rockets went on a nine-game winning streak winning 12 of their first 17 games. The team traveled to Mexico City, Mexico, where they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 108–106 on December 6, 1997, which was the first NBA regular season game played in Mexico. However, as the season progressed, they began to slip under .500, showing their age and the wear and tear of long playoff runs as they played mediocre basketball all season. Hakeem Olajuwon missed most of the first half of the season with a knee injury only playing just 47 games. Without their star center, Kevin Willis would step into the lineup averaging 16.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Olajuwon would eventually return averaging 16.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game, as the Rockets finished fourth in the Midwest Division with a 41–41 record, and qualified the playoffs as the #8 seed in the Western Conference. Charles Barkley averaged 15.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, and played half of the season off the bench as the team’s sixth man.
The 1999–2000 NBA season was the Rockets' 33rd season in the National Basketball Association, and 29th season in the city of Houston. This season is notable for the Rockets acquiring top draft pick Steve Francis from the University of Maryland in a trade from the Vancouver Grizzlies, who drafted him with the second overall pick in the 1999 NBA draft. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired Walt Williams, Kelvin Cato and Carlos Rogers from the Portland Trail Blazers, and signed free agent Shandon Anderson. The Rockets got off to a bad start losing ten of their first twelve games, but later won six straight games in January, but then lost eight straight in March. Hakeem Olajuwon played just 44 games due to a hernia injury, and breathing problems. The Rockets won seven of their final ten games in April, and finished sixth in the Midwest Division with a record of 34–48, failing to qualify for the playoffs, which was the first time they missed the postseason since the 1991–92 season.