Long Live The Dream: Hakeem Olajuwon Appreciation Day

Basketball, Soul On Ice — By on January 9, 2012 at 2:26 am

In the late 80s and throughout the 90s, basketball fans my age were treated to a player that was the best at his position and made it virtually impossible for anyone to think we’ll ever see another like him. He has spoiled us to the point where we think every single center and/or power forward should flock to his home over the summer to learn from him.

The man is so talented, so brilliant, so amazing and so in demand that he doesn’t have to move a muscle to get his voice heard; the people come to him. We speak of him with reverence, admiration and respect. We speak of him as the Basketball God that he is. That man is none other than The Dream, Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Dream is one of only two players that, in my era of watching basketball, had the ability, mindset and the drive to make all of his contemporaries look foolish. The other, of course, is The Jordan. Hakeem played in an era when big men roamed the earth and he made all of them look beneath him. Shaquille O’Neal, a man who will readily allude to the fact (because by watching the games, it was a fact) that no center wanted it with him, will say that The Dream is the best center he ever played against and the one man who had his way with him when they played.

The Admiral doesn’t have to say it; we’ve all seen it. The same goes for Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Mount Mutombo and any other All-Star center during that time. The Dream could do everything on the court, and no matter how much the game has changed, it’s almost as if we wished The Dream was still on the court. He was truly one-of-a-kind.

One way of observing The Dream’s impact is overhearing a discussion about big men. The Dream may not even be the starting point and, in the recent case of a conversation on Twitter, he wasn’t at all. The discussion was initially about Dwight Howard, David Robinson and if it was a stretch to say that a prime Robinson is equal to today’s Dwight Howard. Well, it went from that to The Dream and how Dwight should continue to learn from The Dream.

All of us forgot that The Admiral was in the discussion and even the people who were saying Robinson is supremely better than Howard weren’t saying Howard should learn from him. No, they were saying he should continue to learn from The Dream.

The Dream was All-World at everything. He was All-World on offense, defense and rebounding. He had his moments when I imagine people wondered if he could ever win a ring, but those same people (hopefully) recognized his second-to-none skill-set and what the NBA truly had.

Think about it: who can you really compare The Dream to? It certainly can’t be another center, because that would be a disservice to The Dream and his ability to make them look foolish on both ends of the court. The Dream was a hybrid of sorts: guard skills, with a center’s body, and played like both. When he took centers out of the paint, it was over for them. When he was on the block, he was just as deadly. How many other big men can we truly say that about?

As maddening as it can be at times to have discussions, debates and exchanges with fellow basketball fans, there’s one thing a majority of us agree on: there is only one Hakeem Olajuwon and there hasn’t been anyone close since, nor will there ever be another and, for that, we appreciate the player we were privileged enough to see.

K. Masenda

Kenny Masenda is a fan of the game, and an admirer of the culture. You can find more of what makes him tick at his Facebook profile located here.

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  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Hall of Famer look more foolish than David Robinson trying to defend the Dream Shake.

    • Especially considering how all-world DRobinson was at the time. Not only was dude MVP but folks are contemplating putting him up there with the greats, and in retrospect, he is without a doubt one of the 10 best centers ever. The thing that Kenny said that really stands out is that we’ve never really seen anyone like him from a physical/mental standpoint. Ever. And in some respects, one could argue that he’s underrated for what his legacy truly is.

  • Joe Simmons says:

    I remember doing the dream shake in the shower until I learned how to make people fall or get leverage in the post and I am 5’9″.. It was so impressive I wanted to know how to do it. Honestly his footwork was way ahead of his time. No one, and I mean no one could move the feet like Dream.

    Nice Post.

  • The 1994 Finals. My soul still hurts.

    With that said, the diversity of big men in that era is sorely missed now. Hakeem was the most fluid center of them all, but consider all of those guys named. Ewing never gets enough credit for changing his game as injuries took their toll to still give 23/10/5. I see the comparisons between Robinson and Howard, at least offensively. Mutumbo made the blocked shot a show within the show. Zo was a lot of brute force despite being smaller than the pivots he played against. Even the solid-to-good centers of the era were worth attention; Smits, Divac, Sabonis, on and on.

    I begrudingly had respect for Hakeem because I was and still am a Knicks fan. Yet, the battles those two had against each other… geez, the NBA needs a good pivot rivalry again.

  • Jenna Moore says:


    My name is Jenna Moore, and I am the photo editor at Four Seasons Magazine. I am currently sourcing imagery for a project called Wonder Experience, where each Four Seasons property is identifying a unique experience they can offer their guests. In Houston, the Four Seasons is offering an exclusive lunch and one-on-one training session with Hakeem Olajuwon. May I ask where you got the image featured in this post?

    Thank you!

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