The Houston Rockets used their number one overall pick on the hometown product, Hakeem Olajuwon. Some were surprised with the pick because the previous year, the Rockets selected another talented center, Ralph Sampson, number one overall and were weak at the guard position. Still, the Rockets believed that Hakeem was just too talented to pass up.
The Chicago Bulls needed some type of generational talent to help bring the team back into serious title contention, and when the Blazers passed on Jordan by electing to draft Sam Bowie, that talent fell right into their lap. The Bulls drafted the soon-to-be star at number three overall.
Both the Rockets and the Bulls believed that they were winners coming out of the draft. The Rockets got their center of the future and the Bulls got their franchise player. Only time would tell who would benefit the most from their picks.
Let’s take a brief look at the careers each guy had.
Hakeem Olajuwon came into the league and immediately started playing at an elite level, even leading the Rockets to their first-ever NBA Finals in just his second season.
The Rockets, however, weren’t quite where they needed to be yet and would go on to lose to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in six games. Still, Olajuwon taking them to within two games of an NBA title in his sophomore season was impressive.
The 1993-94 season was what really set Hakeem apart from the rest, with his performance over the course of the season landing him the MVP award. Leading Houston back to the NBA Finals again, they got it done this time, winning in seven games over the New York Knicks. Olajuwon finally got his first ring and was awarded Finals MVP.
Olajuwon wasn’t done there though, as he led them to another title the following year. The most amazing part of the back-to-back was that he won the second time around without ever having homecourt in the playoffs. The Rockets won the championship as the sixth seed and Hakeem earned his second Finals MVP.
Hakeem ended his career with the most blocked shots in NBA history, two championships, two NBA Finals MVPs and a regular-season MVP. He was also a 12-time All-NBA selection, 12-time NBA All-Star, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Next: Did the Rockets decide correctly?