Hakeem Olajuwon is universally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Olajuwon constantly raised his level of play when it mattered most and single-handedly carried the Houston Rockets to victories with the game on the line.
Olajuwon led the franchise to consecutive championships and has easily been one of the most clutch players in league history. But not if you ask Robert Horry, who was asked to list his most clutch players ever and failed to mention The Dream.
“MJ, Kobe, Reggie Miller, and myself.”
For starters, this isn’t quite a bad list. One would surmise that role players aren’t generally viewed in the same stratosphere as superstars, as the pressure is magnified on the league’s best players, which would remove Horry from consideration.
In other words, although Horry made several buzzer-beaters and go-ahead buckets, he always shared the court with superstars and their mere presence made it easy for him to get open looks in pivotal moments, as opposing coaches drew up schemes to prevent the primary scoring threats from single-handedly defeating them.
Which was Olajuwon.
Robert Horry snubs Houston Rockets legend Hakeem Olajuwon.
Furthermore, the definition of a clutch player isn’t just limited to scoring or contributing offensively. This is where Olajuwon gets snubbed in these conversations, as he had the ability to clamp down opponents with the game on the line.
For example, during Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals, Olajuwon blocked New York Knicks guard John Starks with 5.5 seconds remaining, giving the Rockets a 86-84 victory.
This forced a Game 7, which the Rockets won.
If Olajuwon doesn’t block that shot and Starks makes it, the Rockets don’t win that first championship.
Olajuwon also did it to arguably the game's greatest player.
And it’s not like Olajuwon didn’t have game-winning buckets either.
Horry should know better than to leave Olajuwon off the list of the most clutch players, and especially if he’s putting himself on the list. Sure, he wants to give himself credit, all players do.
But there’s a stronger argument that Olajuwon belongs in the conversation regarding the most clutch players ever as the primary option, with the ability to win games on both ends of the floor than there is that Horry belongs.