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Hakeem Olajuwon

From Academic Kids

Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (born Akeem Abdul Olajuwon on January 21, 1963 in Lagos, Nigeria) was an NBA basketball player, now retired. His glory days were with the Houston Rockets, followed by a brief stint with the Toronto Raptors.

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Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon was arguably one of the best centers to ever play, alongside Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson as the best pivots in basketball history. He was affectionately called "Hakeem the Dream" for his grace on and off the court.

Olajuwon came from Nigeria, and played college ball at the University of Houston, teaming with Clyde Drexler to form Phi Slama Jamma. He was considered the top amateur prospect in the summer of 1984 over fellow collegians and future NBA stars Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, and was selected first overall by the Houston Rockets. Noted as a prankster by his teamates he once claimed to the CBS broadcaster Billy Packer, that his favorite food was 'ice cream'.

Olajuwon averaged over 20 points and 10 rebounds his very first season, finishing as runner-up to Jordan in the Rookie of the Year voting. He was the only other rookie to receive any votes. The Rockets had immediate success as Olajuwon teamed with the 1984 Rookie of the Year Ralph Sampson to form the original "Twin Towers," taking Houston to the Finals in 1986 where they lost to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. After losing Sampson first to injury and then to trade, the Rockets struggled, though Olajuwon himself thrived individually, being named to the all-NBA first team in 1987, '88, '89, '93, '94 and '97. He also made the second and third team several times. Olajuwon also won the rebounding and blocked shots titles, becoming the third player ever (after Kareem and Bill Walton) to lead the league in both during the same season. He finished second in scoring in both '95 and '96. Olajuwon also won defensive player of the year honors and an MVP in 1994.

He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1993. He did eventually reach the long coveted NBA championship, leading the Rockets to the title in both 1994 and 1995, bringing the first pro sports championships in Houston history. During this period, Olajuwon perfected his set of faking and spinning moves, all of which became known as his trademark Dream Shake.

Olajuwon continued to lead the team throughout the late nineties, teaming with Drexler, Barkley, and the newly signed Scottie Pippen, but no combination brought Houston a return to prominence. Houston then began a rebuilding effort, bringing in young guards Cuttino Mobley and Steve Francis, the 2000 co-rookie of the year. Olajuwon retired as the all-time leader in blocked shots, well past second place Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (Note, however, that the NBA did not keep statistics for blocked shots until Kareem had been in the league several years). Olajuwon is also in the top ten in scoring, rebounding, and steals; he is the only player in NBA history in the top ten for all four categories. In 1996, the NBA's 50th anniversary, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (http://www.nba.com/history/players/50greatest.html). Shortly after his retirement, his #34 jersey was retired by the Rockets.

Throughout Olajuwon's college career and early years in the NBA, he was often an undisciplined player, talking back to officials, getting in minor fights with other players, and amassing personal fouls. However, Olajuwon began exploring his spiritual side later in his career, becoming a devout Muslim and adding the H to the beginning of his name in order to symbolize this transformation. After this, Olajuwon was still consistently recognized as one of the league's elite centers despite his strict observance (e.g., fasting during daylight hours) of Ramadan, which occurred during the NBA season during virtually all of his career and is usually a handicap for Muslim athletes. He also gained recognition for his sportsmanlike behavior on the court and his charitable pursuits off the court, and became known as one of the sports world's more intelligent individuals, speaking several languages and having a very developed sense of art appreciation. Hakeem would take his reputation as one of the NBA's best role models into his retirement.

On February 10th, 2005, it was alleged that the Olajuwon-founded Islamic Da'Wah Center in Houston gave more than $80,000 to charities later determined by the American government to be fronts for the terror groups Al-Qaeda and Hamas. Olajuwon vehemently condemned the donations, claiming he had not known the charities' connection to the terror organizations, and said he would not have given the money if he had known.

1996 Olympic Champions Men's Basketball
Charles Barkley | Anfernee Hardaway | Grant Hill | Karl Malone | Reggie Miller | Hakeem Olajuwon | Shaquille O'Neal | Gary Payton | Scottie Pippen | Mitch Richmond | David Robinson | John Stockton
Coach Lenny Wilkens

Template:NCAA Tournament MOP Mende:Hakeem Olajuwon zh:奥拉朱旺

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