Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Olajuwon Hakeem Olajuwon was raised in Nigeria, a country in Africa. Hakeem had never stepped on a basketball court until he was 17 years old, and the head of the Nigerian basketball team urged him to give the sport a try. The very first shot he took missed the hoop totally, so did the second shot, and his third shot was an air ball as well. Hakeem had lots to learn about American basketball. Coach Guy Lewis said ” He just flat out didn’t know how to play.
” Before he could learn how to play, he had to get in shape. In practice he got tired after 2 or 3 minutes and after he dunked the ball his back hurt so badly he had to stop playing.Coach Lewis said Olajuwon had to strecth before he plays in practices or games.
” I didn’t know about this stretching,” said Olajuwon, but when he strecthed before practice his back problems disappeared. Hakeem got a scholarship at University of Houston and played for the Houston Cougars. Fans called the Houston Cougars ” The Slamma Jammas” because of the way its players slammed and jammed the ball through the hoop. No team in college basketball dunked the ball like the Cougars. Once Hakeem started to play, he realized that being tall is a big advantage.
The University of Houston, ranked number 1, met the University of Louisville, ranked number 2, in the semifinals of the 1983 NCAA playoffs. At the half the Louisville Cardinals was leading 41-36. Houston had 14 dunks before the game ended in a 94-81 with the Cougars coming out on top.
Hakeem had an awesome game, he had 21 points, 22 rebounds, and 8 shots blocked. By the spring of 1983 Hakeem was recognized as one of the finest shot blockers and dunkers in college basketball.NBA star Mosses Malone practiced basketball with Hakeem at the gym in Houston. Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown University Hoyas met the University of Houston in the 1984 NCAA finals. Hakeem led the Cougars to two NCAA finials and was the number one pick in the 1984 NBA draft.
Ralph Sampson was the center for the Houston Rockets until Hakeem joined the team. Bill Flinch was Olajuwon’s first coach in the NBA. Larry Bird was already recognized as one of the NBA finest players when he and the Boston Celtics met the Rockets in the 1986 NBA finals. They lossed in the NBA finals and it was a big disappointment for Hakeem and the rest of the Houston Rockets.
Bill Cartwright’s collision with Hakeem resulted a serious injury. Hakeem missed 26 games while his eye injury healed. Once again the Rockets got in the playoffs and went to the NBA championship to face the New York Knicks. The best-of-seven series was a battle between Olajuwon and the Knicks star center Patrick Ewing. Houston grabbed an early lead, winning game 1, 85-78.But New York came back, winning game 2, 91-83.
Houston managed to squeak by New York for a 93-89 victory in the third game. Rockets lead 2-1 before the Knicks won game 4, 91-82. Knicks also took the fifth game, 91-84, taking a lead with three games to two. Game six was close the whole game up until the final seconds.
When the clock ran out, Houston led 86-84. In game seven, Hakeem led the Rockets to a 90-84 victory, making them the NBA champions for the first time in the team’s history. Olajuwon also became the first player ever to be named regular season MVP, playoff MVP, and Defensive Player of the year. Speech and Communcations.