Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon, formerly known as Akeem Olajuwon, is a Nigerian-American former professional basketball player who played for the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors from 1984 to 2002 in the NBA. He was nicknamed ‘The Dream’ for almost the entirety of his basketball career after his coach said it "looked like a dream" seeing him dunk so effortlessly.
Olajuwon travelled far from his hometown Lagos in Nigeria to play for the University of Houston. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets as the first pick in the NBA Draft of 1984. That draft also included some of the other legends of the game in Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. Combining with Ralph Sampson, the two formed the duo famously known as the ‘Twin Towers’ and led the Rockets to 1986 NBA Finals where they lost to the Boston Celtics in 6 games. With the departure of Sampson in 1988, Olajuwon became the undisputed leader of the Rockets.
In 1993-94, Olajuwon became the only player in the history of the NBA to win MVP, NBA Defensive Player of the year and Finals MVP award in the same year. The Houston Rockets went onto win back to back championships against the Patrick Ewing’s New York Knicks in 1994 and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic in 1995.
Olajuwon is widely recognized as one of the best centers to have ever touched the hardwood. He is a 2-time NBA champion, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, 1994 Most Valuable Player, 2-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 12-time All-Star, 6-time All-NBA First Team, and a 5-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and blocks three times (1990, 1991, 1993). He ended his career as the league’s all-time leader in blocks with 3830. He is also one of the four players ever in NBA history to have achieved a quadruple-double.
In 1996, Hakeem won an Olympic Gold Medal as a member of the United States national team and was also selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA History. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.