Houston Rockets: The 15 greatest centers of all-time

By Tevin Williams
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets - Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT
Mandatory Credit: Tim Defrisco/ALLSPORT /

Hakeem Olajuwon. 1. 169. . . Center

To no one’s surprise, Hakeem Olajuwon is the best center and player in Rockets franchise history. The Rockets selected Olajuwon first in a loaded 1984 NBA Draft class that included Michael Jordan, John Stockton and Charles Barkley.

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Olajuwon averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in his rookie season. In his second season in the league, Olajuwon led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, but Houston came up short against the Boston Celtics.

“The Dream” would have to wait eight more years before he reached the NBA Finals again, but he capitalized on the opportunity the second time.

Olajuwon led the Rockets to the franchise’s first ever NBA championship in 1994 over the New York Knicks. Olajuwon dominated Patrick Ewing, averaging 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 3.9 blocks per game in the championship series.

He won the league’s MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year and the Finals MVP in his magical 1993-94 season.

The next season, the Rockets traded for his college teammate Clyde Drexler. Together, the former Phi Slama Jama duo led the Rockets to a second consecutive NBA championship. In the 1995 Finals, Olajuwon averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks per game against another all-time great center, Shaquille O’Neal. Houston swept O’Neal’s Orlando Magic to when Title No. 2.

Olajuwon spent 17 of his 18 seasons in the NBA as a Rocket. The Dream averaged 22.5 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 3.2 blocks over his tenure in Houston.

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He’s also the Rockets all-time leader in points, rebounds and blocked shots, as well as a 12-time All-Star, an NBA MVP, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a three-time block champion and much, much more. Olajuwon is the gold standard for which any current or future Rockets great will be measured against.