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Hakeem Olajuwon

Category: All Stars & MVPs, Hall of Famers, NBA
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Biography:

Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the greatest centers to every play in the NBA.  Hakeem is also one of the most influential players in league history due not only to his playing style, but for being one of the first African born players in the league.  Sports Speaker Olajuwon grew up in Nigeria, and didn’t play basketball until the age of 15.  He attended school at the University of Houston without being a touted recruit, but grew into a star with the Cougars.  Through Olajuwon’s play and the rest of the “Phi Slama Jama” crew highlighted by Clyde Drexler, the Cougars reached consecutive National Championship games in 1983 and 1984.  They lost both contests but it Hakeem was firmly on the basketball map, and was selected 1st overall in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets ahead of names like Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley.

Upon arriving in the NBA, Olajuwon made an instant impact with the Rockets.  The Rockets became an instant contender with Hakeem in the lineup, and they reached the NBA Finals in just his 2nd season.  Over the next several seasons Olajuwon continued to improve his overall game, and by the 1993-94 season, the Rockets were considered one of the best teams in the league.  The Rockets went on to win their first of 2 consecutive NBA Championships in 1994 led by Hakeem. He was named NBA Finals MVP of both championship teams.  For his career, Olajuwon was a 12-time NBA All Star, 1994 NBA MVP, 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the year, 6-time 1st Team All NBA, and he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.  His unique skilled playing style and patented “Dream Shake” were one-of-a-kind for a 7-footer.

Off the court Hakeem is equally intriguing.  He is a devout Muslim who has much pride in his faith.  In addition he has been name the NBA Ambassador to Africa in 2014.  His primary objectives are to increase and develop youth programs in Africa to provide kids with basketball opportunities in Africa and the United States.  Olajuwon has also trained a variety of NBA players on their post-moves including stars such as Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.