Houston Rockets 75th Anniversary Team Rank 1
The number one spot was always going to be Hakeem Olajuwon. He spent 17 of his 18 NBA seasons in Houston, delivered the franchise their two championships, and built a top-25 All-time career along the way.
The accolades that Hakeem racked up do a better job contextualizing his two-way greatness than the statistics. He was a 12-time All-Star and All-NBA selection, made nine All-Defensive teams, won two defensive players of the year and Finals MVPs, and a league MVP.
For a decade-plus, Hakeem was the best center in the league at a time when there was fierce competition for the distinction. He played through the tail end of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career, the beginning of Shaquille O’Neal’s, and squared off against the primes of David Robinson and Patrick Ewing.
Hakeem’s all-time record for blocked shots is unassailable. His 3,830 blocks are 541 more than Dikembe Mutombo in second and the only current player within 2,000 of that mark is Dwight Howard with 2,217. With the proliferation of the 3-point shot, Hakeem’s blocks record is as safe as a basket he was guarding.
While not the All-time leader in steals, Hakeem ranking tenth is incredible for a center. The only player that ranks in the top-20 in both steals and blocks is Kevin Garnett and he’s 19th in steals and 20th in blocks.
One area that often gets overlooked about Hakeem by the national media is that he turned it on in the postseason. For his career, he averaged 25.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 1.7 steals in the playoffs. All of those marks are either equal to his career regular-season averages or better, and he did it while improving his field goal percentage too.
Hakeem might be the greatest defensive player in the history of the league and he could also be the focal point of an elite offense. The Rockets weren’t able to surround him with the requisite talent for a large stretch of his prime and likely cost him the chance to be remembered properly outside of the city of Houston.
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of his career is that no one questions the Rockets' decision to select him first overall in the 1984 NBA Draft instead of Michael Jordan. Hakeem ‘the Dream’ Olajuwon is the greatest Rocket of all time.