One of the best era of big men, the 90s, was dominated by a 6’6 “Michael Jordan. Not taking anything away from their greatness, but they couldn’t get past his Airness. There was a short championship window during MJ’s retirement, and Hakeem Olajuwon dominated it.
The Dream won two titles for Houston in the 90s with Robert Horry – one of the most beloved players in franchise history by his side. Big Shot Bob had front row tickets in seeing Hakeem’s greatness night in and night out. Hakeem’s all-around ability is what Horry believes separates him from other great big men the league has witnessed.
“All-time shot-blocker, out of every big man that ever played the game he can shoot free throws, he can shoot from the outside, he can guard guards, he’s the best to me. You go back and look at the things he did on the court, ask David Robinson, he’ll tell you. Dream was the best, no disrespect to all those other guys. I know a lot of times, people are measured by wins and championships like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, but the Dream was flat out the best.”
This isn’t the first time a seven-time NBA champion publicly spoke about how great his former teammate was. He was on ESPN’s “The Jump,” where he made a direct comparison between Olajuwon and Duncan, having played with both of them. It seems like Horry doesn’t have a doubt in his mind about who is better between the two - he said Hakeem was 20 times better than Duncan.
“I played with both. I know the work ethic of both. I’ve seen it live. I’ve seen these two guys in the gym. I know what Dream brought to practice, and I know what Tim brought to practice. I know Tim brought work ethic to practice, but to be a superstar you need to go to the extra level—not saying Tim’s not a superstar, but I’m saying what Dream brought to the game was amazing, and I don’t think people understand how good Olajuwon was.”
Robert Horry, The Jump
Saying that Hakeem is underrated is a valid point, but calling him 20 times better than The Big Fundamental is absurd. Nevertheless, Hakeem’s name should be brought up more often when discussing the NBA’s greats. He is without the doubt the best post scorer the league he’s ever seen. He had every move in his arsenal and was doing them with an unmatched level of fluidity and elegance. It was a work of art seeing him do the sequence of moves to get the best of his defenders. That’s why many guys seek his mentorship on post moves and footwork. He is the ultimate master.
Because we associate the 90s with Michael Jordan, Olajuwon gets overlooked. He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest big men in the NBA’s history.