Hakeem Olajuwon is a Nigerian–American former professional basketball player who played in the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). In a career spanning 18 years, he has played for two teams: the ‘Toronto Raptors’ and the ‘Houston Rockets.’ Hakeem was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and played football throughout his childhood and his teenage years. At the age of 15, he finally decided to start playing basketball and exhibited some natural skills at the game. He immigrated to the US for his college education and joined the ‘University of Houston’ soon after. While his 7-feet frame helped him earn a place on the university’s basketball team, his skills got him selected for the 1984 ‘NBA Draft,’ and he got signed by the ‘Houston Rockets.’ He led his team to win the ‘NBA Championships,’ in both 1994 and 1995, playing as a center. He is known as one of the greatest centers ever to have played in the ‘NBA.’ In 2008, he was inducted into the ‘Basketball Hall of Fame.’ He has also been named to the ‘All-NBA First Team’ six times and has been the ‘NBA Finals Most Valuable Player’ (MVP) twice. In the 1996 ‘Olympics,’ he played for the American national team and helped them win a gold medal.
As soon as he entered the ‘NBA,’ Hakeem became a star on the team. With an astonishing height of 7 feet, he proved that he was the best pick for the ‘Houston Rockets’ that season. In his rookie ‘NBA’ season, Hakeem averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.68 blocks per game. He teamed up with Ralph Sampson, who was a few inches taller than him. They were playfully called the “Twin Towers.” In his debut season, he was named the runner-up to the ‘Rookie of the Year,’ ranking only behind basketball legend Michael Jordan. Incidentally, Hakeem was the only other rookie that year who received any votes. Hakeem’s second season with the ‘Rockets’ was even more successful, as he averaged 23.5 points per game, along with 11.5 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per game. He also played a significant role in his team winning the ‘Western Conference’ finals against the ‘Los Angeles Lakers.’ His stunning performance landed him a space on the cover of the popular magazine ‘Sports Illustrated.’
By the 1987–1988 season, Hakeem had become the undisputed favorite on the team, as Sampson had left the team by then due to a knee injury. With 13.5 rebounds per game, Hakeem was named the league leader in rebounds. Both he and his team performed brilliantly during the 1993–1994 season and in the following ‘NBA’ season. He performed better than any other center in any other ‘NBA’ team and registered himself as one of the best centers in the history of the ‘NBA’. He led his team to win the ‘NBA Championships’ in 1994 and 1995. He became highly famous for his signature move, known as the “Dream Shake,” in which he would fake moves and spin in an unusual way. He was also regarded by many ‘NBA’ legends as a master player. This was mostly due to the fact that despite being an extremely tall player, his footwork and his speed were exceptional. During the 1994 season, Hakeem was at the top of his game and made several records. He became the first player in the history of the ‘NBA’ to be named the ‘MVP,’ the “Finals MVP,’ and the ‘Defensive Player of the Season,’ all in the same season. However, after this brilliant phase of his career, Hakeem’s performance dipped a little, and that cost him his place on the team. While suffering from continuous injuries and illnesses, Hakeem was traded to the ‘Toronto Raptors’ in the 2001 season and performed poorly, hitting an all-time low in his career. He finally announced his retirement from the game in the middle of the 2002 season. However, despite a low time at the end of his career, Hakeem had enough achievements to his name, which led him to become an inductee in the ‘Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’ in 2008. Throughout his illustrious career, he was named to the ‘All-Star’ team 12 times. He was named the ‘Defensive Player of the Year’ twice, the ‘NBA MVP’ once, and the ‘NBA Finals MVP’ twice.
Before making a name for himself in the US basketball scene, Hakeem had played for the junior Nigerian team. When he tried entering the American national team in the 1980s, he was not allowed to play for the country because of some issues related to citizenship laws. He got his official American citizenship in 1993. Following this, he was named to the US national basketball team.
He played a key role in the 1996 ‘Olympic Games’ and helped the American national basketball team win the gold medal. Hakeem is revered as an icon in Houston and is extremely loved by the people of the city. Following his highly successful stint with the ‘NBA,’ he has had an equally successful career in the real-estate arena. He did not show any interest in coaching any team, but he regularly shares tips with young players. He was inducted into the ‘FIBA Hall of Fame’ in 2016.
Hakeem Olajuwon played 18 seasons for the Rockets and Raptors. He averaged 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 2.5 assists in 1,238 regular-season games. He was selected to play in 12 All-Star games. He won 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, 1 MVP award, 2 Finals MVP awards and 2 NBA championships. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.
Olajuwon did not play basketball until he was 15 years old.
He was an instant star in the National Basketball Association (NBA), showing stunning quickness and agility in his game.
He formed one half of Houston's formidable "Twin Towers" duo with 7'4" Ralph Sampson.
Olajuwon became the first player in NBA history to record at least 200 steals and 200 blocks in a season during 1988-89, and led the league with 14 rebounds and a staggering 4.6 blocks per game the following year.
Olajuwon became the first player in NBA history to win the Most Valuable Player, Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
Having secured his U.S. citizenship, he won a gold medal with the 1996 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team. Soon afterward, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History as part of a campaign to mark the league's 50-year anniversary.
He was named to the All-NBA First Team six times, and to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times.
After leaving the hardwood, Olajuwon reinvented himself as a successful real-estate dealer in Houston and became a instructor for NBA players seeking to improve their moves around the basket.
When not tending to business in Houston, he spends his time with his family at a home in Jordan, where he studies the Koran.
Olajuwon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008, a fitting recognition to the career of one of the game's all-time greats.
2× NBA champion (1994, 1995)
2× NBA Finals MVP (1994, 1995)
NBA Most Valuable Player (1994)
12× NBA All-Star (1985–1990, 1992–1997)
6× All-NBA First Team (1987–1989, 1993, 1994, 1997)
3× All-NBA Second Team (1986, 1990, 1996)
3× All-NBA Third Team (1991, 1995, 1999)
2× NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994)
5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994)
4× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1985, 1991, 1996, 1997)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1985)
IBM Award (1993)
2× NBA rebounding leader (1989, 1990)
3× NBA blocks leader (1990, 1991, 1993)
No. 34 retired by Houston Rockets
NBA anniversary team (50th, 75th)
Consensus first-team All-American (1984)
NCAA rebounding leader (1984)
SWC Player of the Year (1984)
NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1983)
No. 34 retired by Houston Cougars
Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Houston Sports Hall of Fame