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HAKEEM ABDUL OLAJUWON

Hakeem Olajuwon Olajuwon vs Dikembe Mutombo

Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon was born in Lagos Nigeria on January 21st 1963. He is not only one of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game, but an athlete with one of the most interesting career stories ever. That Hollywood has not yet cashed in on his story is a big surprise to me because you couldnt look further for a perfect movie script. He came to the University of Houston from Lagos Nigeria at a tender age of 17, where he reportedly had his first encounter with basketball, a sport he would later dominate. Hakeem was so new to the game that his U of H Cougar coach Guy Lewis was reported to have said about him, "He just flat out didnt know how to play." But unlike Dikembe Mutombo, who initially struggled with the Georgetown Hoyas, Olajuwon fit right in with the Cougars, leading them to 2 NCAA Finals in 1983 and 1984. Hakeem was the first pick in the 1984 NBA draft, which included heavy names like Michael Jordan(3rd pick) and Charles Barkely(5th pick).

Hakeem and his Cougars were so hot that their fans coined them the name Slamma Jammas in recognition of their superior dunking style. Among the Slamma Jammas was none other than Clyde "The Glyde" Drexler who also had a stellar career with the U of H Cougars. In the 1984 NCAA Finals the red-hot Cougars were pitted against Patrick Ewing and his Georgetown Hoyas. Ewing and his Hoyas beat the Slamma Jammas but little did he know that fate would match him up again with 2 Slamma Jammas ten years later. In the 1994 NBA Finals, the Houston Rockets were pitted against the New York Knicks, in what many basketball fans viewed as a rematch of the 1984 NCAA Finals. Hakeem and Clyde Drexler were again up against Patrick Ewing, and this time there was no letting by the Slamma Jammas. The Rockets won 4-3 in the best-of-seven series giving the Houston Franchise its first ever NBA Championship. Hakeem would again lead the Rockets to a back-to-back NBA Championship the following year, humiliating Shaquille O'Neal and his Orlando Magic 4-0 in the best-of-seven series. With this remarkable feat, Olajuwon, the Nigerian-born basketball convert sealed his name amongst the the City of Houston legendry, and is without a doubt an inductee-in-waiting to basketball's Hall of Fame. Its important to note however that Hakeem and his Rockets had made an earlier trip to the NBA Finals in 1986 but lost to Larry Bird and his Boston Celtics.

In 2001, after 17 seasons with the Houston Rockets and clearly in the twilight of his basketball career, Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors, to the dismay of many Houstonians who had wished to see their star end his career at the Bayou City, where it all began. However, "The Dream" is still loved dearly by his Houston fans who turn out in large numbers to see him when his Toronto Raptors come to town. We at AfricanTribute will likewise be true to Hakeem and be his big fans always for his great accomplishments in life and for being a great ambassador for the African continent for many years. Eventhough Olajuwon has since taken up American citizenship, his polite and gentlemanly mannerism which he brought from Africa and which have endeared him to many people, are still evident to this day. He is indeed a true role model whose legacy will serve to show young people that you can observe high moral standards and still be "cool". For us Africans, his illustrious career will always be a blessing because it will forever cast a much-needed positive light on the African continent.

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