Hakeem Olajuwon was a player that your older brother or father loved to watch. Can you blame them? He was a player that was so diverse and different from any other big man that played basketball in that era. He had a certain skill set that players in today’s game have a very hard time emulating. He had championship success at both the collegiate and professional levels. Let’s take a dive into what Hakeem Olajuwon brought to the table, and see why NBA fans consider him one of the best big men of all time.
The Dream Shake
Hakeem Olauwon was known for his unusual diverse and elite skill set for a big man of his size. He created a perfect set of fakes and spin moves that would eventually turn into the “dream shake”. It was an unstoppable move that was much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook shot. Being virtually indefensible, Olajuwon created most of his moves with the use of the pivot foot. He was patient with the ball because he had so many moves, like the “up and under”, so players did not know what was coming next. His quickness for a man of his size also made him so much harder to guard because opposing big men couldn’t keep up with him. The battles that he had with fellow legendary big man, David Robinson, were battles that can never be recreated. He was in a world of his own once he stepped onto the basketball court.
Players of Today
Now retired, Olajuwon has passed on his secrets to players of today’s game. Kobe Bryant, after losing the 2008 NBA Finals in blowout fashion, was determined to find moves that he could use on the court to keep the opposition guessing. He worked with Hakeem in 2009 and it showed in the following seasons as Kobe Bryant went on to winning two more titles with the Lakers. We’ve also seen LeBron James working with Hakeem in 2011. LeBron is an unstoppable force when he is charging the rim on offense, but adding a plethora of moves to his game has only increased his playing ability.
As a 76ers fan, I am beyond excited to see what Joel Embiid has learned from Olajuwon. As you can see in the video above, he has tried the “dream shake” in his collegiate play and it is scary how much it reminds fans of Olajuwon when he was at that age. Analysts have called Embiid a baby Olajuwon and I couldn’t agree more. He has to get on the court and play live NBA games before we can title him anything, but it seems like barring injury, Embiid could be a big force inside for years to come.
The legacy Olajuwon left behind is one that will be very hard for other big men to mirror. It is no secret that players are trying to learn from Hakeem Olajuwon because his moves that he patented are a recipe for offensive success.