It’s fantastic when you can watch your basketball idols perform almost every single day, but it’s even better if you can compete against them in a real game. That is what happened to former NBA player Chris Webber when he matched up against Hakeem Olajuwon in his first NBA game back in 1993. While making an appearance on the Knuckleheads podcast with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, Webber talked about his NBA journey and the first time he realized he was in the big boys league. When he played against him, Hakeem was the NBA’s best player since Jordan was retired from basketball playing baseball.
Webber was considered the best college player, but even that couldn’t prepare him for his first matchup against Hakeem. In that specific season, Hakeem took his game to the next level seeing the opportunity to win it all with Houston now that Jordan was retired from basketball. He won the MVP later that season, but Webber said that the first game against Hakeem would stick with him forever.
The first game I played against Hakeem Olajuwon. I think he was the reigning MVP or something like that. He had 33 that game, I watched the game the other day, and he was just cold. He was the first big man with a crossover. I remember after the game being, that jump hook, I’m taking that forever, he is busting my a**.Chris Webber, via Knuckleheads Podcast
In that specific game between the Rockets and Warriors, Hakeem ended the game with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks, shooting 60 percent from the field, asserting dominance on both ends of the floor. The Rockets won the game 102-93, but Webber had a decent first game with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Webber had a successful rookie season averaging 17 points and 9 rebounds, winning the NBA’s best rookie award.
Having matchups like that at such an early age is crucial for any young player because even Webber said he took many things he saw from Hakeem and implemented them into his own game. Watching MVP Hakeem go to work is incredible, even if it’s against you and your team, and that’s probably how Chris Webber felt that game.