Bronny and Zaire May Need to Make Room for Abdullah Olajuwon
When it comes to up-and-coming basketball stars, few players create as much excitement as Bronny James and Zaire Wade. In case you don’t know, the sons of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade respectively both show exceptional promise. However, fans who track the next generation may need to start following a third player: Abdullah Olajuwon.
He is the son of Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the Houston Rockets to two titles in the ’90s. Let’s look at Hakeem’s career and investigate his son’s future in basketball.
Hakeem Olajuwon’s NBA career
The Houston Rockets selected Hakeem with the No. 1 pick of the 1984 NBA draft. He went ahead of future stars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. The Rockets’ optimism in Hakeem seemed well-placed. In his rookie season, he averaged 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks per game, while finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Jordan.
Hakeem’s strong play continued in his second year, when he led Houston to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics. Behind Hakeem’s dominant offensive and defensive skills, the Rockets became a perennial playoff team over the next decade. The 1989-90 season saw Hakeem average career bests of 14 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game.
Hakeem led the Rockets to back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995, winning Finals MVP awards both times. He also took home the regular-season MVP award in 1994. The 12-time All-Star won two Defensive Player of the Year awards. Hakeem remains the only player in NBA history to win MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season.
Abdullah Olajuwon’s early journey to basketball
Abdullah is Hakeem’s eldest son. He was born in 2004 in the country of Jordan, where he spent the first 10 years of his life. Growing up there and later in the UK, Abdullah didn’t initially show much interest in basketball; the sport wasn’t as widely appreciated in that region.
Instead, Abdullah developed a passion for the far more popular sport of soccer. Hakeem’s early efforts to persuade Abdullah and his younger brother to take up basketball did not have much success. “Every time I’d leave them with a basketball, I’d come back in it would turn into a soccer ball,” Hakeem told VYPE.
Yet he continued to encourage his son to play basketball. Eventually, something clicked in Abdullah’s brain. “After I tasted [playing basketball], I didn’t want to play anything else, I knew that was my passion,” he later explained. Abdullah began playing basketball in Birmingham, England, where he developed into a phenomenal talent.
Moving to the U.S. and future prospects
By the time Abdullah was 15, it was clear he had the skills necessary to pursue a basketball career. Yet Hakeem knew his chances of development would be much better in the United States. With that in mind, he relocated his family back to Houston in August 2019.
The 6-foot-3 Abdullah was soon playing forward for the Village High School basketball team. He clearly stood out from his peers in his first season. Abdullah displayed an excellent handle and good footwork. He proved he could score in a diversity of ways. The solid pull-up shooter also displays confidence finishing around the rim.
It’s worth mentioning that Village High School isn’t exactly an elite high school basketball program. As a result, Abdullah often finds himself playing against less-than-talented opponents, which may make him appear stronger. Nonetheless, most scouts consider the young Olajuwon a highly compelling prospect — one who will certainly garner a lot of attention as he continues to develop.