Skip to main content

When Michael Jordan predicted the future of big men by calling Hakeem Olajuwon a small forward


Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon entered the league in 1984, leading one of the best draft classes ever. The center was picked first while MJ was nabbed 3rd overall. Their careers would get entangled many times, and there was always a lot of mutual respect. It actually led to a prediction that turned out to be very true. 

MJ predicted the future of big men

In 1996, Jordan claimed the future of big men would change, and they would evolve into more than just big bodies getting in the way. 

“Just a bunch of small, versatile guys playing different positions. That’s the way the game is going. The dominant center is starting to get eliminated. You haven’t had a dominant center win a championship in 8 years.”

Michael Jordan, The Sport Rush

You may think this was a slight to Hakeem, who won two titles in '94 and '95 - it was actually a compliment. Jordan elaborated that he does not think of Olajuwon as a true center because The Dream was a small forward in his eyes. Hakeem’s a legit 7-footer, but he played way ahead of his time - MJ saw the future of basketball in him. The league has never seen a center with dribbling skills, elite footwork, and soft-touch from the perimeter. 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Olajuwon’s style paved the way for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid. Before, teams exploit the big men of opposing teams by using quick wing players. However, the era of slow big men is now slowly vanishing. Centers nowadays can shoot, run, dribble, post up and defend. 

Whenever the Bulls faced the Rockets, the MJ-Hakeem showdown would always take the spotlight. 

Hakeem vs. MJ

The Rockets center won two NBA titles in his career, but Bulls fans quickly point out that Hakeem got them during MJ’s sabbatical from the league. The Bulls versus Rockets never happened; however, experts believe it could be one of the greatest Finals ever if it happened. The list of players with a winning record against Jordan isn't long, and Hakeem's name is on it. The two faced off 23 times in the NBA, and Olajuwon won 13 of them. It's not just players like Robert Horry theorizing MJ was scared of Hakeem - the GOAT confirmed it himself. 

“You know it’s a good thing these guys can’t get out of the West. We've got no answer for that big monster.”

Michael Jordan to Fran Blinebury, postgame 1992

One of the best Finals we never got to see. We can't be sure what would've happened, but there's no doubt it would've been spectacular. 

Damian Lillard reaveals one guy he'd like to team up with

Damian Lillard opens up about the player he dreams to team up with

Maybe there's a universe where Dame Lillard finally realizes that the Blazers won't go anywhere given their mediocrity over the last decade

Chris Paul after a Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks

Phoenix Suns collapse in embarrassing 33-point blowout loss to the Dallas Mavericks

The Suns, who were the best team regular season team in the NBA (standing-wise), showed no fight, no heart, and no execution in Game 7

NBA reacts to a Mavs blowout win against the Suns

NBA Community reacts to the Dallas Mavericks blowout win against the Phoenix Suns

The NBA community was astonished by the Mavs blowout win against the Suns behind another great performance from Luka Doncic

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown and forward Jayson Tatum

“The energy is about to shift” — Jaylen Brown’s quote was the Boston Celtics’ battle cry for Game 7

Jaylen Brown tweeted "The energy is about to shift” in January and it kickstarted the turnaround for the Boston Celtics.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and wife Ayesha Curry

Sex, phone, coffee, or weed? Steph Curry tells Ayesha Curry what he couldn't live without for a month

Steph was quick to answer, and according to Ayesha's reaction, he gave the right answer.

Allen Iverson created his own path to the NBA that many players after him have looked to follow

Allen Iverson on creating his own path to the NBA that many players after him have looked to follow

Both on and off the court, Iverson stood out among the rest of his peers and helped revolutionize the NBA

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons

Brooklyn Nets reveal "summer plan" to fix setbacks with Ben Simmons which includes mental health

The Nets reportedly have come up with a promising plan to help Simmons. We'll believe it when we see it.