NBA

What Happened to Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon?

Thirty years ago today Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon became only the third play in NBA history to record a quadruple-double with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 11 blocks, and 10 assists. After that amazing accomplishment, Olajuwon went on to win a pair of NBA titles in 1994 and 1995, before retiring in 2002. Where is Hakeem “The Dream” today?

Hakeem Olajuwon’s outstanding college career comes up short twice

University of Houston Coach Guy Lewis recruited Hakeem Olajuwon to Houston on a chance recommendation from a friend who had spotted the tall, lanky kid playing basketball while on a trip to Nigeria. It was a discovery that would change the game of basketball.

At Houston, Olajuwon redshirted his freshman year and saw limited action as a redshirt freshman in 1981–82. That season the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michael Jordan eliminated the Cougars in the Final Four.

The following off-season, after seeking advice from the coaching staff on how to improve his game, Olajuwon worked out with local Houston resident and multiple NBA MVP winner, Moses Malone, who was a center for the Houston Rockets. It paid off.

The 1982-83 season, a more-polished Olajuwon teamed up with Clyde Drexler, Michael Young, and others to form the first dunking fraternity, Phi Slama Jama. The Cougars dominated college basketball and were ranked No. 1 most of the season, which included a 26-game winning streak. The team that appeared to be destined for an NCAA title was shockingly denied in the national championship game when North Carolina State’s Lorenzo Charles made the memorable dunk at the buzzer to stun the Cougars 54-52.

The following season, after Drexler opted to leave for the NBA early, Olajuwon and Young once again led the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament, where Houston made a return trip to the finals in a match-up against Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas. Unfortunately, for the Cougars, it was a different team, but the same result as Georgetown won the contest 84-75.

The hometown hero’s Hall of Fame career 

The Houston Rockets selected the hometown hero as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1984 NBA draft. Olajuwon never missed a beat transitioning from college to the NBA game, and that first year he averaged 20.6 points and 11.9 rebounds per game and was named to the All-Rookie team. The 7-footer was just getting started. 

Hakeem Olajuwon cemented his legacy in Houston Rockets and NBA history over the next 16 seasons in the Bayou City earning All-NBA honors 12 times, defensive player of the year twice, and league leader in blocks three times. In 1993-94, Olajuwon earned NBA MVP honors as he led the Rockets to the organization’s first NBA championship over the New York Knicks. That Finals also offered Olajuwon redemption as he outplayed Knicks center Patrick Ewing to win the title.

The next season Olajuwon teamed up with a familiar face, former Cougars teammate Clyde Drexler. Although the Rockets never set themselves apart during the regular season, finishing third in their division, they got hot in the playoffs. After dispatching of the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs, the Rockets swept Shaquille O’Neal and the Orlando Magic to win back-to-back NBA crowns. 

Olajuwon and the Rockets stayed in playoff contention for several years but never made it back to the Finals. In 2002, after playing a season with Toronto, Olajuwon retired after 18 years. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Where is Hakeem Olajuwon today?

Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler | Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

After retirement, Olajuwon moved into real estate and found great success in the Houston area, where he made estimated profits exceeding more than $100 million. With his real estate business buzzing, Olajuwon stayed connected to basketball and, in 2006, launched his first Big Man Camp. 

The camp was a re-creation of sorts of what he learned years earlier from Malone. In each camp, he taught front-court players the finer points of playing in the post. Through the years he has helped numerous players with their footwork and inside game including Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and LeBron James.

While he has multiple houses around the world, Hakeem Olajuwon and his family returned from England in September 2019 to permanently reside in Houston. Back in the city where he made his name, Olajuwon is once again involved in the game of basketball. This time, it’s more personal, as he’s working with his sons, Abdullah, a sophomore, and Abdul, who is in eighth grade.

In the time since they returned to the U.S. and focused on basketball, Olajuwon said their games have improved dramatically. With a teacher who has taught the likes of Kobe and LeBron, is in the Hall of Fame, and is one of the greatest centers of all time, you wouldn’t expect anything else.