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Hakeem Olajuwon: The Impeccable Basketballer

Hakeem Olajuwon was born to a family of cement business owners in Lagos. Like most Nigerians his age, he grew up playing football. It was not until he turned 17 that he started playing basketball. He played for Nigeria in the All-Africa Games in 1980 before he left for the University of Houston to work for the Cougars’ coaching staff under Guy Lewis.

After a year of extensive training from 1980 to 1981, he joined the Cougars who were in the NCAA and played with them as a redshirt. Unfortunately, the team was eliminated in the Final Four. Undeterred, Olajuwon sought to improve on his skills and was advised to work with multiple NBA MVP winner, Moses Malone during the summer. By the end of the holiday, Olajuwon was not the same.


By his second year, he had helped the Cougars get to the NCAA Championship Games in 1983 and 1984. Despite their loss in 1983, Olajuwon was awarded the 1983 NCAA Tournament Player of the Year award, making him the last player from a losing side to be granted this honour.

This would go on to be a part of his many successes.

He is the only player in NBA’s history to recording blocked shots in “1973-74 to average 14+ rebounds and 4.5+ blocked shots per game in the same season”. He is also the third NBA player in history to “record a quadruple-double during the season”.

Asides being the 1994 NBA Most Valuable Player, he played for the Dream Team III at Atlanta which won the gold medal in 1996.

He is the only centre to rank among the top ten all-time in steals. He is also a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a five-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection.

**This article was originally published on the 21st of August, 2018 but has been republished in honour of his birthday.

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Hakeem Olajunwo
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