Former NBA Champion Asserts Hakeem Olajuwon, and Not James Harden, is the Rockets GOAT

Published 01/22/2021, 6:40 AM EST
Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) before the game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


After an eight-year association, Houston Rockets bid farewell to James Harden earlier this month. The 2018 MVP joined them via trade in 2012 and was their best player since then. The Rockets brought him in to end their title drought, but he wasn’t able to break their winless run.

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After all these years of failed attempts, Harden decided it was time to move on. He felt that there was no chance of him winning a title at Houston anymore, so he asked for a trade and eventually left for the Nets. Following his departure, fans started discussing whether he was their best player in franchise history.

Some fans may have felt that way, but former NBA champion Vernon Maxwell doesn’t agree. He clarified that he likes Harden too, but there is no doubt about who is the best player in Rockets’ history. He said that it was two-time champion Hakeem Olajuwon, who is also his former teammate.

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Why does James Harden fall behind Hakeem Olajuwon?

During his eight seasons at Houston, Harden established himself as one of the best scorers of his generation. He won three scoring titles and was also among the top candidates for the MVP award, which he won once.

He made the Conference Finals twice and was close to advancing to the NBA Finals in 2018, but Chris Paul’s injury killed their chances.

The Rockets got eliminated in a seven-game series against the Warriors, and with that, he lost his best chance at a ring. So although he had enough regular-season success in the playoffs, he often struggled. Thus, he wasn’t able to win a ring at Houston.

Jan 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Toyota Center on January 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Compared to this, Olajuwon’s achievements with the franchise are incomparable. He brought two NBA championships to the city, their first and only titles in franchise history. He beat two of the greatest centers of all-time, Patrick Ewing and Shaquille O’Neal, in back-to-back Finals to win those rings.

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His triumph in 1995 also gave him a Finals MVP. which made him the only player in NBA history to win MVP, DPOY, and the Finals MVP in the same season. No one has yet achieved this feat.

Aside from these achievements, Olajuwon is arguably the most skilled center of all-time. His post moves are second to none, and he also has a move (Dream Shake) named after him.

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Harden is good, but Olajuwon is far greater. So there shouldn’t be any comparison between the two.

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Aaron Mathew

1550 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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