Hakeem Olajuwon finished his NBA career with two championships and the only other NBA Finals MVP in the Michael Jordan era throughout most of the 1990s. Still, Hakeem’s namely rarely makes it to the list of the top Centers in NBA history, with names like Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell often mentioned ahead of his. Wilt, Russel, and even players like Shaq and Kareem all won more championships than The Dream, and that leads to his underrated status.
Beyond his two rings, it’s hard to imagine another Center with the mobility and skill of one Hakeem Olajuwon. Before and after Hakeem’s time, most of the successful bigs ruled the paint with force and dominance. Hakeem did it with precision and finesse, and the fact that The Dream was tapped by players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to improve their post-up game, speaks volumes to the level of respect NBA players have for his craft.
Hakeem’s patented “Dream Shake” was one of the most prolific moves in NBA history, and regularly features on highlight reels showcasing some of the NBA’s most unstoppable offensive moves. Olajuwon’s skill level also allowed him to play late into his 30s, where even with age, he would still find a way to dominate practices and games.
“In just this little box, he would just have dudes looking clownish out there. Was just nice to see him go through the series. Hook shot, up and under.”Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Walt played with Hakeem when The Dream was already 37 years old and shared that Hakeem had a steroid inhaler that he would use before practice to open up his lungs. The fact that Hakeem needed an inhaler to play and still performed as he did against younger players in practice amazed Williams. The Dream was still so good in his later years that the Toronto Raptors traded for him to pair Vince Carter with a star big man, but at that point, Father Time had already done a number on Olajuwon.
Is Hakeem the most skilled Center of all time? If not, where do you rank him? You can watch the highlight reel below and be the judge for yourself.