Houston Rockets: Remembering Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon


Mar 22, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets former center Hakeem Olajuwon is honored at halftime against the Golden State Warriors in the second quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The feet and quickness of a guard, with the defense and determination of a center. The “Dream” was reality for 18 seasons in the NBA. Hakeem Olajuwon was highly skilled as both an offensive and defensive player. Defensively, too quick for centers, and too tall for guards. On offense he was unstoppable, freezing opponents as he spun baseline or into the paint scoring what appeared to be an effortless two points.

If I had to pick a center, 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 steals. He always made great decisions on the court. For all facets of the game, I have to give it to him.- Michael Jordan

In 1993-94 he had a storybook season, becoming the first player to be named NBA MVP, NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Finals MVP in the same season. The following season he rallied the Rockets from a sixth seed in the playoffs to their second straight NBA crown, making Houston the fifth NBA franchise ever to win back-to-back titles.

He was noted for both his outstanding shot-blocking ability and his unique talent (for a frontcourt player) for stealing the ball. Hakeem averaged 3.09 blocks per game and 1.75 steals per game in 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.

Twice named the NBA Defensive Player of the year, and a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection. On offense, Olajuwon was famous for his pillow-soft shooting touch around the basket and his nimble footwork in the low post with the ball, Hakeem displayed a plethora of fakes and spin moves, highlighted in his signature “Dream Shake”. (The Dream Shake alcohol beverage uses Bailey’s and I’m sure Hakeem doesn’t drink Bailey’s)

Averaging 21.8 points per game during his career, and an above average offensive rebounder, averaging 3.3 offensive rebounds per game. He is one of only four players to have recorded a quadruple-double. Despite a strict observance of Ramadan(abstaining from food and drink during daylight hours for about a month), which occurred during virtually every season of his career Hakeem remained an elite center. Sometimes playing better during the month, and in 1995 he was named the NBA player of the month of February. Ramadan starts February 1st.

Olajuwon ranks 9th in All-Time scoring, 11th in All-Time rebounds, 8th in All-Time steals, and 1st in All-Time blocks. NBA champion (1994, ’95); NBA Finals MVP (1994, ’95); NBA MVP (1994); Defensive Player of Year (1993, ’94); All-NBA First Team (1987, ’88, ’89, ’93, ’94, ’97); All-NBA Second Team (’86, ’90, ’96); All-NBA Third Team (1991, ’95, ’99); All-Defensive First Team (’87, ’88, ’90, ’93, ’94); 12-time All-Star; Olympic gold medalist (199); One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996); Elected to Basketball Hall of Fame (2008);