Olajuwon, Hakeem

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Olajuwon, Hakeem

Hakeem Olajuwon (häkēm´ ōlī´jəwŏn´), 1963–, Nigerian-American basketball player, b. Lagos. Introduced to basketball at age 15, when he stood 6 ft 9 in. (206 cm) tall, he soon became the center for the Nigerian national team. In 1981–84 he attended the Univ. of Houston, where he led his team three consecutive times to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's "Final Four" (national tournament semifinals). Drafted by the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, he formed part of the "Twin Towers" offense (1984–87) with the even taller Ralph Sampson, and gradually emerged as the dominant big man in the NBA. "The Dream" became an American citizen in 1993. In 1994 and 1995 he led the Rockets to the NBA championship and was the league's most valuable player for the 1993–94 season. In the mid-1990s he and Shaquille O'Neal were regarded as the NBA's best centers. Olajuwon signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2001 but retired the following year.

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