DAR Sports: The Legacy of Hakeem Olajuwon

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-Let me start this off with a personal story if I may. The year was 1993. Michael Jordan had just retired from the NBA. I was the biggest fan of Jordan as a child and with all honesty, I almost felt like I wouldn't watch the NBA anymore since he was gone. As a kid, you don't know any better really. Without Jordan, sure there was Ewing, Barkley, David Robinson, and such, all of whom I was a big fan of, but there was something missing without Jordan. I remember going into the 1993-1994 season hoping to see the Suns make it back to the Finals and maybe the Knicks would make it to the Finals that year too. The prospect of Ewing and Starks vs Barkley and KJ was something that I wanted to see. However, Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets had other plans. I remember watching the 1994 playoffs, thinking to myself that the Suns were the team to beat. Hakeem was the regular season MVP sure, but the Suns were a better team. Yes, I doubted the Dream. It was because the Rockets hadn't tasted the NBA Finals since 1986 where they were soundly defeated by one of the greatest Celtics teams ever.

Plus, years prior, it seemed as if Hakeem was surely going to be traded by the Rockets, a move that in retrospect would have doomed the team and organization forever. Hakeem had been in the league since 1984 and shortly after that trade debacle went away, we saw a reinvigorated Rockets team and a smarter Hakeem. It was during this season that I became a fan of Hakeem and recognized that he was one of the greatest Centers of our time, and of all time.

We saw Hakeem be one of the best and most agile big men in the post and with his signature "Dream Shake", he seemed to be unstoppable and hard to shut down. During his MVP season, he would captivate the audiences watching, myself included, and lead his team to the promised land and a NBA Championship, garnering the regular season MVP award, the Finals MVP award, and the Defensive Player of The Year award in the process. It would be a career year for Hakeem and really where people started to give him his credit, myself included.

After a great season in 1994, Hakeem would lead the Rockets to yet another title in 1995 with a rather dominant performance against the Magic in the Finals. The MVP of the Finals? Hakeem. With huge numbers all throughout, Hakeem would easily outplay Shaquille O'Neal during the season and the Rockets would sweep the Magic soundly after a very competitive game 1. Those two seasons are the most noteworthy in the career of Hakeem, but make no mistake about it, it wasn't the only greatness. Throughout his years with Ralph Sampson during the early part of his career to the years he struggled some with injury but persevered to his dominance as a rebounder, Hakeem had a storied career that many have to respect.

Today, we look back at Hakeem, his career and his greatest moments. We appreciate The Dream. Let's get into it.

Hakeem is one of the 15 best NBA players ever. No one had the grace around the rim that he had. While I give the slight edge to Duncan overall, Hakeem might be the best post defender I grew up watching. Hakeem had a very rare skill set, an array of post moves (The Dream Shake is a prime example) and his footwork was impeccable. Hakeem is still making money to teach guys his footwork (Kobe Bryant was one of them) and rightfully so. One aspect that I believe is vastly underrated in his career was his ability to pass. His assists numbers don't suggest the second coming of Steve Nash or John Stockton (and of course not), but Hakeem was very well adept at the pass out of the low block and making the right basketball play.

Hakeem had the unfortunate situation of being in his prime in the Michael Jordan years of the NBA, but it didn't stop him from being an NBA champion. As a matter of fact, he became a two time champion and the 1994 squad he won with was one of the worst championship winning squads in history IMO. Clyde coming over in 1995 certainly helped the repeat, but for him to have won that first one with the squad he had was remarkable. Hakeem is a top 3 all time center behind Kareem and (this is just my opinion) Shaq. While his later years weren't all that (some people keep mentioning this trade to Toronto, but I've never heard of such madness), Hakeem should be remembered as one of the best to ever play regardless of where you rank him on your all time list.

Hakeem Olajuwon was one of those players who was just very skillful and gifted. You hardly heard anything bad about the man and he was a true ambassador to the game. Growing up watching this man play was very enjoyable, even though he would tear the Lakers up. His footwork in the post was a thing of amazement and even players today work with the man to improve their post game. He made other Centers look crazy when he went up against him with his post work. It was very fundamental, yet full of fineness. To me, he is one of the best Centers to ever step foot on the court.

Off the court, Olajuwon was a true ambassador to the game as I mentioned. He was one of the few players never to sign with Nike or Adidas due to the prices that they were selling their shoe. To Olajuwon, it was about the people who came to watch the game. He's a beloved figure in the city of Houston and around the league. Olajuwon also opened a big man camp to help improve players post game. The likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron, and Carmelo have shown up to even work with Hakeem.

Olajuwon to me is one of the top 15 players of all time and that's saying a lot. I think many don't really give him his props or even mention him that much when it comes to the leading big men, but if you take the time to see film on this man...you'll see where I'm coming from. He's a legend period.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal 
-Hakeem was an inspiration for big men, and his influence shines in guys like Demarcus Cousins and Karl Anthony Towns, who are nowhere near as good as Hakeem, but there's a glimpse or two of him within some aspects of their game. He mentors a few players and he gives back immensely to the game of basketball. In many ways, Hakeem is what the essential basketball player should be. He's still contributing to the game, furthering the game of today's players and despite the end of his career, where he may have taken a bit of a fall and struggled with injuries, Hakeem has a legacy that is solidified.

His career averages of 21.8 PPG and 11.1 RPG along with 2 NBA Titles, 2 Finals MVP awards, 1 regular MVP award, 6 All-NBA First Team appearances and a 12 time All Star helps to confirm what we knew about Hakeem: he's one of the greatest of all time. Period.



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