Rockets: Paul Pierce thinks Hakeem Olajuwon belongs in ESPN’s top 10

Paul Pierce (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Paul Pierce (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

When ESPN recently announced its top 74 players of all-time, Hakeem Olajuwon was ranked 12th. Paul Pierce believes that placement is too low.

With the NBA now officially in its ninth week of not having live games, debates on the merits and rankings of players have never been louder. ESPN recently weighed in on the top 74 players of all time in honor of the league’s 74th year of existence. In the list, they ranked Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon 12th, just behind Oscar Robertson and Shaquille O’Neal.

At least one former NBA champion thinks that ranking is too low. On ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday, Paul Pierce and Kendrick Perkins joined Rachel Nichols to give their thoughts on the top of ESPN’s list.

“He doesn’t get enough credit,” begins Pierce. “He’s the only player in NBA history to win MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP in the same year.”

Pierce is referring to the 1993-94 NBA season in which The Dream averaged 27.3 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game before leading the Rockets to their first of two NBA titles.

“Hakeem Olajuwon is the one player that stands out to me that is not in the top 10,” continued Pierce. “You look at all these players who accomplished so much. No one has ever accomplished that feat.”

The Truth makes a great point here. The three awards mentioned are the most prestigious awards you can have in a season — and Olajuwon won all three over the course of one year. Hakeem not only redefined the word “dominant” that year, but he also paved the way for other international players.

Olajuwon became the first player born outside of the United States to win the MVP award and was later followed by Steve Nash (2005 & 2006), Dirk Nowitzki (2007) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (2019).

When posed with the same question of who should be in the top 10 on ESPN’s list, Kendrick Perkins offered up Isiah Thomas. The two-time NBA champion certainly had a remarkable NBA career, despite recent negative stories of his likability on ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

However, having him above Hakeem Olajuwon is a stretch, even for Perkins. In the same segment, Perkins also listed LeBron James over Michael Jordan for top NBA player of all time and once said everyone but James Harden sacrificed for the Oklahoma City Thunder, so it’s hard to take him as seriously.

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As for the argument of putting Olajuwon in the top 10, I believe he could be bumped up ahead of Shaq for the 10-spot without many complaints (save for Lakers faithful), especially if you factor in overall talent.