Olajuwon, Hakeem

▪ 1995

      In June 1994 Nigerian-American basketball player Hakeem ("The Dream") Olajuwon made his longtime dream come true by leading the Houston Rockets to victory in the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship series over the New York Knicks. As his first championship title, it capped a milestone year in which he was named Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year (for the second time), and MVP of the NBA finals. Extremely versatile throughout the regular season, he was a top-ranking player in the major categories of scoring points (27.3 per game), capturing rebounds (11.9), blocking shots (3.71), and making steals (1.6).

      The 2.13-m, 116-kg (7-ft, 255-lb) centre, whose surname Olajuwon in his native Yoruban language means "being on top," was no stranger to these heights. During his 10-year career in the NBA, he played in nine all-star games and repeatedly led the league in blocked shots and rebounds.

      Olajuwon's ascendancy as one of the finest players in the league coincided with the reemergence of the centre as the dominant position in the NBA. Not since the late 1970s had a centre—generally a team's tallest player—led a club to the NBA finals. For almost two decades team leaders had been smaller guards and forwards, such as superstar guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls, who retired in 1993. The first season after Jordan's retirement from basketball culminated in a championship matchup between two of the best centres in the league—Olajuwon and the Knicks's Patrick Ewing.

      Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon was born on Jan. 21, 1963, in Lagos, Nigeria, where his family owned a cement business. Until age 15 he was unfamiliar with the sport of basketball, instead playing association football (soccer) and team handball at Moslem Teachers College in Lagos. Two years later he was recruited to play basketball in the U.S. with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the University of Houston, Texas. In his first collegiate season, the Houston Cougars competed in the semifinals of the 1982 NCAA tournament. The next year, Houston returned to the Final Four but lost the championship game; even so, Olajuwon was awarded the Final Four MVP. In 1984 Houston again advanced to the final game, and again the championship title eluded Olajuwon, who battled his rival Ewing, centre for the victorious Georgetown Hoyas.

      Olajuwon left college when he was selected first in the 1984 NBA draft, two spots ahead of Jordan, with whom, a decade later, he shared a lifetime field-goal percentage of .516. In Olajuwon's first season with the Houston Rockets, the team reached the play-offs, and in his second year they narrowly failed to clinch the championship. His dream was finally fulfilled in 1994 when Houston defeated New York 90-84 in the final game of the seven-game series. (TOM MICHAEL)

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Olajuwon, Hakeem (Abdul) — (n. 21 ene. 1963, Lagos, Nigeria). Basquetbolista estadounidense nacido en Nigeria. Estudió en la Universidad de Houston y condujo a su equipo a dos finales de la National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (asociación deportiva de las… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Olajuwon, Hakeem (Abdul) — born Jan. 21, 1963, Lagos, Nigeria Nigerian born U.S. basketball player. He attended the University of Houston and led its team to the NCAA finals in 1983 and 1984. In 1994 the 7 ft (2.13 m) Olajuwan led the Houston Rockets to the NBA… …   Universalium

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