Hakeem Olajuwon against the Magic

It’s only fitting that the Rockets honor Hakeem Olajuwon tonight against the Orlando Magic, the opponent against whom he led Houston to its second of back to back titles in the mid 90’s.  Most of you reading this right now had not yet procured cognizance of the self by 1995 (i.e. you were in diapers holding a bottle) or were not even yet born.  I was nine, and it was glorious.

To begin, it is often stated that Olajuwon dominated Shaquille O’Neal, when describing Olajuwon’s performance during that series.  While he outplayed O’Neal, this depiction is largely revisionist, somewhat abetted by O’Neal’s deference over the years in recounting the events of that fateful week.  Olajuwon averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.0 blocks on 48% shooting for the four games.  Certainly, a Dream performance, but not outright dominance in comparison to O’Neal’s 28.0 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.5 blocks, on 59% shooting.  While he says it–perhaps because Olajuwon is the only man to have even played him to at least a draw during his prime–O’Neal was not humiliated.  David Robinson was humiliated.

An additional point: Since the 90’s, I do not think there has been another player whose popularity matched that of Anfernee Hardaway, aside from players whose popularity was derived as a factor of sheer greatness (i.e. Stephen Curry during his MVP seasons).  Another point: I don’t think Penny would be that popular in today’s game.  Go back and watch old clips to refresh your memory.  Unless we’re saying his modern-day version would have developed them, he doesn’t have the sort of ball-handling that characterizes today’s premiere point guards such as Kyrie Irving.  But the shoes, oh those glorious shoes that my immigrant parents would never let me buy…

About the author: Rahat Huq is a lawyer in real life and the founder and editor-in-chief of www.Red94.net.

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