Hakeem Olajuwon was one of the best centers to ever play the game of basketball. His stellar post moves and resilient defending is what made him a difficult opponent. Despite having won it all, The Dream doesn't get enough recognition while discussing the all-time greats.
The big center led the Houston Rockets to their only two NBA championships. Another integral part of the team was Vernon Maxwell. Also known as Mad Max, he had an extremely contrasting personality from Hakeem Olajuwon.
In his recent appearance on the "No Chill with Gilbert Arenas" podcast, Maxwell stated that Olajuwon was certainly one of the best centers to ever play the game.
Speaking about people disregarding The Dream from the all-time great conversations, Maxwell said:
""That s**ts crazy, that's unbelievable man, I mean he got to be in the mean Top 5 centers ever to play this game man, so ya man I mean quiet, humble guy, you know didn't say a lot, wasn't in the spotlight like that, you know they want all that s**t."
"So I think that's what like hindered him a little bit, I mean totally a great person when he became Muslim, now, I'm gonna tell you to say that before he became Muslim, that mo*r was tough to deal with... he slapped the s* out of you."
Like Mad Max mentioned, Hakeem Olajuwon was not a player who had a lot of enigma on him. He was someone who let his game do the talking. In an era that was dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, Hakeem led the Rockets to two consecutive titles in 1994 and 1995.
During these two years, The Dream also won two Finals MVP trophies, one defensive player of the year award and an MVP award. Many may argue that the Rockets and Hakeem Olajuwon were only successful because of Michael Jordan's 18-month absence. However, it cannot take away Hakeem Olajuwon's achievement.
Vernon Maxwell shares a locker room bust-up story of when he went up against Hakeem Olajuwon
Vernon Maxwell was one of the most fierce competitors in the game of basketball. He did not back down from anyone, be it an opponent or his own teammate. Mad Max had a history of going at it with fans and even his teammates. However, when he was with the Houston Rockets, they had Hakeem Olajuwon in the locker room.
The Dream was not quiet during his peak years and gave it back immediately when he felt disrespected. In one of their games during their stint together in Houston, the team were down by 15 at halftime. Vernon Maxwell was not very happy with the team's performance and spat on the floor on his way back to the locker room.
Olajuwon did not like it and tried to correct his teammate. However, Maxwell did not pay heed to The Dream as he was frustrated by how the game was progressing.
Both always had lockers next to each other and Olajuwon expressed his displeasure at Maxwell by slapping him in the face. Speaking about the incident, Mad Max said:
"They always put us in the locker room with him, me, I'm like, "I don't wanna be by this ... but they had me by him all the time , so he came in the locker room and I got my head down, like I don't wanna hear this sh*t man, mo********er get that goddamn rock man."
"So I see these two mo*********ng atonic mo********ing shoes, these atonic shoes stepping between my legs, I've got my legs spread, I'm sitting down these big ass tonic steps between my legs, I looked up like they said man and go ahead, bow, and I said goddamn this mo********er slapped the s**t out of me."
You would have imagined that teammates would have stopped the fight from escalating. However, nothing was going to stop Maxwell from getting back at Hakeem Olajuwon.
"Mo********er cut a piece of meat with that hand, that mo*********r hit me so hard man, knocked me out of the chair, I jumped up grabbed my chair and folded them up and bust the glass all in the damn locker room. Everybody's running, the ppolics coming in the with the guns."
"What the hell's going on in here, Max please put it down," Oh lord I'm saying, " They got the gun on me at a professional halftime at a professional game man," These mo*********rs are like put it down man, put that damn knife, I just broke the glass, I picked out a big piece of glass I was gonna chase dream and stab the sh*t out of him, but everybody ran out of the locker room so I couldn't get to nobody."
Despite the big brawl, the two worked on their relationship and eventually became key parts of the Rockets team. Hakeem was one of the best when it came to leading the side. He set a great example and expected his teammates to give their all on the court.