About five minutes into the second quarter of Monday Night's Game 4 in the Eastern Conference finals, just after Jason Williams(notes) went up top for a too-easy two-hander by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, SLAM's Marcel Mutoni took to Twitter to ask, "OK, guys. Who slipped a Hakeem Olajuwon mixtape into Dwight Howard's(notes) DVD player this morning?"
Making the rounds Tuesday morning, Mutoni tells us that, according to George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel's "En Fuego" blog, it might actually have been "The Dream" himself:
Hakeem Olajuwon, the former great with the Houston Rockets, talked to Dwight [before Game 4] to offer words of inspiration.
"Me and him had a great talk," Howard said. "He just inspired me to keep playing.
"So I didn't want to give up, because I just felt like there was a lot of people pulling for us to keep going. That was it."
So how did that work out?
Pretty darn well, I'd say. Howard punished a Boston Celtics frontcourt that held him to just 7 points and seven rebounds in 39 minutes of burn in Game 3, racking up 32 points on a Kal-El-efficient 13-for-19 shooting from the floor to key Orlando's Game 4 victory. (He looked more like Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen at the foul line, missing eight of 14 freebies.) He was also in pretty deep R.E.M. on the defensive end, snatching up 16 boards and rejecting four Boston shots, including this timely rotation to erase a Rajon Rondo(notes) layup on a pretty curious post-up move on the C's first possession in overtime.
At the moment, we can neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Magic/World of Warcraft fans eager to even up the best-of-seven series have looked into casting "Dreamstate" on their center to keep the good times rollin' into Game 4 on Wednesday night. Rest assured that we're looking into it, though, and that we'll report any new NBA/MMORPG-related news as it happens. Just like always.
- Hakeem Olajuwon