On April 21st, 1996, Hakeem Olajuwon tallied block number 3,190, eclipsing the record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a Houston Rockets victory.
It’s tough to put into words just how dominant of a defensive player Hakeem Olajuwon was for the Houston Rockets. On this day in 1996, he set himself apart from the rest of the league by blocking three shots in a win over the Phoenix Suns, the last of which clinched an all-time record.
In the last game of the season, The Dream had 3,187 blocks, just two shy of tying the record at the time, set by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With a playoff spot already clinched, Hakeem only played for 25 minutes but still put up 14 points and pulled down six boards.
More importantly, his three blocks put him at number one in the NBA in all-time blocks, a spot he still holds to this day. Since then, former Rocket Dikembe Mutombo has also surpassed Kareem’s mark, ending his remarkable career with 3,289.
Hakeem, meanwhile, blocked over 600 more shots before he called it a career and now has what seems to be an insurmountable total at 3,830. To do this? Oh, he only had to average over three blocks per game over18 seasons.
The fact that Olajuwon set the record in just his 12th season is incredible. It’s important to note that Abdul-Jabbar played for four seasons before blocks were even counted, though, so he would’ve had a few hundred added to his total.
Still, Hakeem’s astounding lateral movement and ability to alter shots is what truly made him special — earning him two Defensive Player of the Year awards and nine All-NBA Defensive selections. His place at the top of the leaderboard is well-deserved.
On this day over two decades ago, Hakeem made history. It might be a few more before someone even comes close.