- Height: 7'
- Weight: 255lbs
- Date of birth: January 21, 1963
- Birthplace: Lagos, Nigeria
- High School: Muslim Teachers College in Lagos
- College: University of Houston
- Debut: 1985
- Final Game: 2001
- Position: Center
Hakeem “the Dream" Olajuwon is considered one of the five greatest centers in NBA history, but his basketball career wasn't a slam dunk.
In his native Nigeria, he played handball and soccer, and only stumbled upon basketball at age 15. He wasn't highly recruited by American colleges and was red-shirted in his first year at the University of Houston. However, under the tutelage of NBA star Moses Malone, he soon developed the grace and skill that would make him an unstoppable force in the NBA.
After leading Houston to two consecutive NCAA finals, he decided to leave after his junior year and was drafted by the hometown Houston Rockets first overall in 1984, ahead of Michael Jordan. Immediately, he turned the losing Rockets around, and they reached the NBA finals in 1986.
Within a few years, Olajuwon became the face of the franchise and became of the league's premier rebounders and shot blockers, as well as a center nimble enough to defend guards on the perimeter, dribble like a point guard and execute his “Dream Shake" series of spins and fakes in the paint. He did this even when, as a devout Muslim, he observed the holy month of Ramadan, during which he did not eat or drink during daytime hours.
In the 1994 and 1995 seasons, Olajuwon forged his claim to NBA immortality when he led a team of role players to consecutive championships against teams led by three centers who were named to the league's all-time 50th Anniversary team. Although Olajuwon continued to excel for years, the Rockets never made it to the NBA Finals, and they traded him to the Toronto Raptors in 2001, his final season. He finished his career with 26,946 points and 13,747 rebounds.
Career Highlights, Awards, and Accolades:
- NBA All-Time Leader in blocked shots
- Career NBA totals in the top 10 in blocks, scoring, rebounding and steals-the only player to do so for all four categories
- NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (1994, 1995)
- Named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history
- 12-time NBA All Star
- Gold medal for U.S. basketball team: 1996
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year: 1993, 1994
- Became the only player since the NBA started recording blocked shots in 1973-74 to average 14 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game in the same season: 1989-90
- Became the third player-besides Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton-to lead the league in rebounding and shot blocking in the same season: 1989-90
- Only player in NBA history to win MVP, Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season: 1994-95