Paul Pierce praises Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon

Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by BOB STRONG / AFP via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon (Photo by BOB STRONG / AFP via Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics great Paul Pierce offered praise for Houston Rockets icon Hakeem Olajuwon.

Hakeem Olajuwon is unequivocally one of the most dominant forces in NBA history, as he was a terror on both ends of the floor. Olajuwon carried the Houston Rockets to consecutive NBA titles and has firmly established himself as the best player in franchise history.

Olajuwon had an array of post moves that even the best defenders had problems with, which San Antonio Spurs all-time great David Robinson can attest to. Robinson was named to seven consecutive All-Defense teams, and even won the Defensive Player of the Year award in the 1991-92 season. But D-Rob saw much different results against Olajuwon when the two players faced off in the 1995 Western Conference Finals.

Olajuwon averaged 35.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, five assists, 4.2 blocks, and 1.3 steals, forcing Robinson to later admit that he couldn’t guard Olajuwon. In that series, The Dream led the Rockets in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks and he was also the series leader in points and blocks. Former Spurs defensive ace Dennis Rodman later admitted that Robinson was afraid to guard Olajuwon, while simultaneously admitting in a round-about way that he passed on the challenge of trying to contain The Dream.

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But Robinson wasn’t the only Hall of Fame big man who was dominated by Olajuwon, as Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic were swept in the NBA Finals during the same postseason. During that series, Dream averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Olajuwon also dominated Patrick Ewing in the 1994 NBA Finals, who was also a legitimate defender, as he was named to three All-Defensive teams. During that series, Olajuwon averaged 26.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 3.6 assists, and 1.6 steals, which is further proof of how Olajuwon was essentially unstoppable. When you consider the legendary centers that Olajuwon dominated in the playoffs, it’s clear that he was one of the greatest players in NBA history.

Paul Pierce gives credit to Rockets’ Hakeem Olajuwon

Former Boston Celtics forward and future Hall of Famer Paul Pierce sang Olajuwon’s praises during a recent episode of ESPN’s The Jump. Pierce was speaking with former Houston Rockets guard Kenny Smith and stated, “Dream was on another level. Dream was on another level.”

Olajuwon had arguably the best season in NBA history, which has seemingly gotten forgotten about over the years. But Pierce’s former Celtics teammate and current ESPN colleague Kendrick Perkins offered a reminder.

This man was just different….

— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) June 26, 2020

Olajuwon hasn’t played in 18 years, as he retired in 2002, yet he still holds the following all-time statistical rankings in league history:

  • 1st in blocked shots
  • 7th in defensive rebounds
  • 8th in offensive rebounds
  • 9th in steals
  • 10th in field goals made
  • 11th in points

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We should all agree that Pierce was right; Dream was on another level.