The Top Ten NBA’s Greatest of All Time and Why: No 9 - Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon, one of NBA’s Greatest of All Time

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Over the upcoming weeks, and as the basketball fans are getting ready for the next  NBA championships season, AfroAmerica Network is looking at the basketball greatest players of all times.  A list of top 11 players will be covered, starting with No 10  and ending with an honorable mention. Today,  the focus is on Number 9: Hakeem Olajuwon

Ranking basketball players is a challenging exercise, mixing both subjective considerations, heuristics, objective factors, and measurable  data. Given the  roster of the excellent basketball players and the wide variety of candidates, it is possible for anyone to come up with a different list. However, AfroAmerica Network, using a proprietary advanced analytics ranking methodology,  including sentiment analytics and leveraging AroniSmartLytics™ (see here:  Advanced Analytics, Machine Learning, Sentiment Analytics), has narrowed the potential candidates to a list most basketball fans could agree on.  In fact, with such advanced analytics tools, although rankings also took into account subjective assessment, the measurable data had more weight.

Today's focus is Number 9: HAKEEM OLAJUWON

Hakeem Olajuwon, the greatest immigrant NBA player

Hakeem Olajuwon is, arguably, the greatest immigrant NBA player of all time; the only other player to win both championships and finals MVP awards during the Micheal Jordan era. And he did it without a superteam against both a stacked New York Knicks team and a great Orlando Magic team.

Honestly, one can fully understand why they call him “The Dream” because some of the things in his extraordinary career just seem too good to be true.  He was able to win during an era where all professional basketball players actually viewed basketball as their main priority,  and,  in most instances,  their only priority,  if  one were as dedicated as Micheal Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Hakeem himself.                     

Statistics  ... Always Statistics 

In hindsight, Wilt Chamberlain was more statistically phenomenal than Hakeem Olajuwon and just about any other player on the selected list. Wilt won just as many championships as Hakeem Olajuwon. Wilt was unstoppable in the paint like Hakeem Olajuwon.  But, one thing that still makes Hakeem Olajuwon a better basketball player than Wilt Chamberlain ties together with what is mentioned in the previous paragraph:   Wilt didn’t play in an era where most of the basketball players viewed basketball as their MAIN PRIORITY.

In fact, during Wilt’s era only the best of the best in the NBA earned decent enough salaries to live off of alone. The others had to hold down second jobs to make ends meet. So, it made basketball less competitive.

Think about it. It is no different than a medical student who has to hold down a full  time job versus another one who does not. Who will be more competitive if both of them had the same capabilities and skills? Obviously the latter one will be because of the ability and flexibility to focus more and dedicate more time to the profession or skills.  

Wilt Chamberlain had it easier than Hakeem Olajuwon. As explained, he played in era with less competition. Secondly, Wilt Chamberlain had two hall of famers (Hal Greer and Chet Walker) to win his first championship in 1967. Hakeem Olajuwon won a championship with no hall of famers in 1994. In fact, Wilt Chamberlain needed Jerry West, a hall of famer and a player who was superior in comparison to any teammate Hakeem Olajuwon ever had to win his second championship. In spite of Wilt’s easier path, Hakeem still won the same amount of championships and MORE Finals MVP’s than Wilt. Hakeem got to the NBA Finals in his SECOND YEAR unlike Wilt Chamberlain.

Hakeem Olajuwon is BETTER than Wilt Chamberlain. Period.

Winning at the highest level is Key

Hakeem Olajuwon was not ranked higher on this list for two reasons. Even though he is better than Wilt Chamberlain he still has the same problem that Wilt Chamberlain has: lack of championships. As one will find out as we go through the top ranked list, the guys above Hakeem have more championships than him. Some of them have way more than Hakeem and one can’t put one superstar over another superstar when one of the superstars has twice as many championships and/or finals MVP with a career about as equally amazing. To be fair to Hakeem, he did play during the Micheal Jordan and the Magic/Bird eras, unlike Bill Russell,  but there comes a time when one just can’t deny Bill Russell’s 11 championships to Hakeem’s two. Even given the fact that Bill Russell had it easier than Hakeem, 11 to 2 is too high of a gap. 

 If Hakeem could’ve won just one more championship then he  could be considered at least equal to Shaquille O’neal, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird because it’s pretty close with those four superstars. If that was the reality, then Olajuwon will have just as many championships as Larry Bird and it will be tougher to pick who is greater.

Championships matter and that’s what hurt Hakeem. Of course its not the only thing that matters; the player has to be a superstar too( Okay Robert Horry, listening? ).  Nevertheless, Hakeem had an amazing career.

Hakeem Olajuwon: A Versatile NBA Player With Multiple Skills

Hakeem is one of only three players in NBA history to record a quadruple double in a game. He is the only player in NBA history to record 200 blocks and 200 steals in the same season. He is the third player in NBA history to lead the league in blocks and rebounds in the same season. He is the only player to win the regular season MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the year award in the same season in 1994.

He is the only Center to steal the ball 200 times in on season. And he is the only player that got close to recording a QUINTIPLE DOUBLE in TWO DIFFERENT GAMES. That’s insane. Also, a long list of NBA players, such as Amar'e Stoudamire and Dwight Howard,  have sought or are seeking Olajuwon for teachings and wisdoms on NBA skills for a reason. Larry Bird and Shaquille O'Neal had somewhat equally great careers in their own rights, but they both have more championships than Olajuwon, with Shaquille having twice as many. That was the deciding factor.

One cannot say it enough: CHAMPIONSHIPS MATTER,  one of the few reasons why Bill Russell ranks higher (barely if we get meticulous) than Hakeem and Shaq. Hakeem is still better than that other guy who lost to an aging Jason Kidd who was past his prime at that point. The other guy also later on lost to an aging Tim Duncan who was past his prime too while having another superstar and a star in their prime on his team when he lost. This will be discussed later on.

Despite a few shortcomings in Hakeem Olajuwon' career,  he remains one of the best players of all time, who has earned the score to be ranked  among the top 10, by AroniSmartLytics™