The greatest of all time or GOAT debates never seem to end. It often ends with critics being torn between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. But Jordan’s son, Marcus, has an interesting take on this. While speaking to NBC Sports, Marcus said, “Until LeBron retires, I can’t put him there yet. For me, I’m probably going Hakeem [Olajuwon]”
The only player to have a basketball move named after him, Hakeem Olajuwon was literally a dream for Rockets franchise. He ended a 27-year wait for a title when Houston won a ring in 1994. That year, Olajuwon won MVP, DPOY, and Finals-MVP in the same season, becoming the only player to achieve this feat. Michael Jordan himself has praised Hakeem on multiple occasions. While addressing a basketball camp, he said, “If I could get any player of All-Time? Hakeem Olajuwon, not counting myself of course.”
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Hakeem Olajuwon has made people forget he was drafted ahead of Michael Jordan
During the 80s, the NBA was filled by dominant centers like Moses Malone, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Robert Parish, to name a few. So it made sense for Houston to pick a seven-footer who had just led his team to the national championship as a junior. Olajuwon averaged 16.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.6 blocks per game as he took the Houston Cougars to the championship game.
The all-time blocks leader’s defensive prowess was not just limited to his swatting or rebounding ability. He is currently the record holder for most steals by a center, both in a season and overall. All of his achievements sound more astonishing when you consider he started playing basketball only at the age of 17. One reason why he is underrated is that he won titles only when Jordan was not in the league. But he still played against the Utah Jazz and the New York Knicks, who weren’t shy of world-beating talent.
LeBron James is undoubtedly one of the all-time greats. But one cannot ignore the fact that to this day, not many complain that Hakeem was drafted ahead of Jordan.