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The Greatness of The Dream

In 1984 Akeem Olajuwon became a big part of my life, my hometown Houston Rockets won a coin toss (that's right, a toss of a piece of metal in the air that changed my life) and won the right to pick Akeem Abdul Olajuwon out of the University of Houston and Lagos, Nigeria to be the face of the franchise for the majority of my NBA watching life to date. It was one of the biggest days in my life and I was 7 and didn't know exactly what was going on. I knew I liked to play basketball, but didn't really understand what The Dream was going to mean to me as I grew up. In the end, he was one of the four most important athletes of my life, along with Nolan Ryan, Warren Moon, and Ricky Williams (FU, he was awesome at Texas).

I struggled with what to write about, first of all I didn't want it to go on forever, I could write about Hakeem or talk about him for, and I'm estimating here, about 7.2 days straight. Second of all, I want it to, in few words, explain what Hakeem means to a lifelong Rockets fan, and how important he is to the history of the NBA.

Let's start with the stats (All time rank in ()):
Games Played: 1,238 (23)
Minutes Played: 44,222 (13)
Field Goals Made: 10,749 (7)
Field Goals Attempted: 20,991 (11) - So vs those above them, he made more but took less
Field Goal %: .512 (58)
Offensive Rebounds: 4,034 (8)
Defensive Rebounds: 9,713 (5)
Total Rebounds: 13,747 (12)
Steals: 2,162 (8) - To put this in perspective, the next center on the list is David Robinson at 42, with 774 less steals (I do need to caveat that steals were not a stat during Wilt's time)
Blocks: 3830 (1) - Even though blocks were not accounted for during Russell's era, I will combat that with championship not being counted in Hakeem's era playing against mostly crusty white guys.
Points: 26,946 (9)
PPG: 21.8 (31)
Rebounds PG: 11.1 (29)
Steals PG: 1.7 (25)
Blocks PG: 3.1 (3)
Player Efficiency Rating: 23.6 (15)

2x NBA champion (1994, '95)
2x NBA Finals MVP (1994, '95)
1x NBA MVP (1994)
2x Defensive Player of Year (1993, '94)
6x All-NBA First Team (1987, '88, '89, '93, '94, '97)
3x All-NBA Second Team ('86, '90, '96)
3x All-NBA Third Team (1991, '95, '99)
5x All-Defensive First Team ('87, '88, '90, '93, '94)
12x All-Star
Olympic gold medalist (1996)
Hall of Fame (2008)
50 Greatest Players of all time

I knew Hakeem was a sure fire Hall of Famer, because no one could deny it any longer, in 1993, his season was one of the most remarkable of all time. In a league that was immensely athletic as a whole Hakeem was the supreme athlete in the league. He played the center position at 6'10 like he was a 7'5 high jumping soccer player doing cone drills. His post moves are better than any player of all time. And yes, that includes the great Wilt Chamberlain. Hakeem ranks on the list of most unstoppable moves, the all time greatest at his position and the top 25 players of all time lists.

Now, admittedly I'm biased, but I'm also a big NBA fan and have watched about infinity worth of hours of NBA TV and ESPN NBA Classic, so I feel like I have a lot of this right, but it's up for discussion nonetheless. Anyway, here are my lists with some explanation:

Greatest offensive moves of all time:
1. The Dream Shake - Absolutely unstoppable, un-blockable, and travel free (you haven't actually watched the video if you think he traveled). Also the only move I can think of that had a player's nickname in it
2. The Skyhook - Kareem Abdul Jabbar - I almost put this number one, but this is a Dream post, so I ultimately game Hakeem the nod
3. The fade away Jumper - Michael Jordan - Pretty self explanatory, it was deadly and could come from anywhere within 30 feet of the basket. Bonus points for the offhand and even sometimes the shooting hand clear out
4. The clear out dunk - Shaq - It was an extremely intelligent move, even if it was an offensive foul 65% of the time. The move was great because Shaq took advantage of being 7 feet tall in a way that no one had before and was so intimidating that the league has called him for about 5 of a possible 4532 offensive fouls in his career
5. The Offensive Rebound - Moses Malone - he led the league in offensive rebounds 8 times and used that to score 27K + points, it was half his offense

The Greatest Centers of all time:
1. Wilt Chamberlain - Shocked you there didn't I? Wilt was a freak, and while I wholeheartedly believe that if you put Hakeem in the same error you would have seen every record go back and forth between them. Well, all of them except most women slept with that is.
2. Kareem - I struggled with this, mostly because I think Kareem is a whiny baby, but in the end, I had to put him at number two. He was the greatest scorer (statistically) in NBA history and did so for longer than just about anyone else.
3. The Dream - There is no way on earth anyone can convince me that Bill Russell or Shaq are even in the same league as Hakeem. yes Russell and Shaq have more championships, yes Shaq has more points, and Russell has more rebounds, but Hakeem was the most complete center of all time not nicknamed "The Stilt" and neither of them came close to putting the entire package together the way Hakeem did. To prove how complete he is, he won the MVP, Finals MVP and DPOY award all in the same year. He's the only player to ever do so. He's also one of four players to ever have a quadruple double (18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 11 blocks in 1990 vs. Milwaukee) and missed it by one assist earlier that year (29 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists, 11 blocks vs. Golden State, also had 5 steals and no turnovers that game). Note: It is possible that Russell and Chamberlain (probably a fact for Wilt) could have done them as well, but blocks and steals were not kept during that time.
4. Bill Russell - 16 championships, one of the greatest rebounders of all time and one of the weakest offensive player ranked in the top 5 of his position by anyone. He cannot be ranked above The Dream simply because of the championships, which many people try and do. He played with six future hall of famers in his championship years that I can name off the top of my head, my guess is it is more and I'm missing some. Hakeem played with one, and won the first one without Drexler.
5. Shaq - The potential to score 35 a game and grab 15 rebounds was there, he chose not to stay in shape enough to fulfill it. He also loses points for being an arrogant prick that has to throw superstar teammates under the bus, the likes of which he would have not won a championship without. Shaq has gone to the championship game with Penny, a top 10 player in the NBA at the time, won three rings with Kobe, arguably the better player on that team, and won one with Dwyane Wade (when he got every call on earth) who was a top 5 player that year.

Mr. Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, I salute you and your induction into the 2008 NBA Hall of Fame Class. Your willingness to be a role model and a good person in general led to a lifetime of adoration by yours truly. You are celebrated here everyday on this site which bears your namesake. Thanks for the memories, and here's hoping we'll have even more through your work with Yao Ming.