September 20, 2010
For the next few weeks, I'm going to pick an NBA-related subject, A-through-Z, and tell you why it's worth your time, and why it's one of the reasons I love covering this league. Because that's why I wanted to become a scribe who's paid to cover this league. Sharing the things I know and love with those of my kind. All that stuff.
Because I'm lucky enough to have your ear for however long, I don't care that this might come off as a bit twee. A little embarrassing. A little too forthright. I'm OK with that. Hopefully you are, as well.
"H" is for "Hakeem Olajuwon."
NBA fans don't bring up Hakeem Olajuwon as often as they should. Because discussing his greatness a couple of times an afternoon still isn't often enough.
The overwrought plaudits and accomplishments - believe me, I've tried to list them in several meaningful ways - just aren't enough, as well. One just has to walk away from any discussion surrounding Hakeem understanding that, at his peak, there may not have been a more unguardable post presence in the NBA's history. That even Kareem's skyhook, Karl Malone's direct hits, Tim Duncan's(notes) steely dirty work, and Shaquille O'Neal's(notes) way with brute force, at their best, might not be able to top the center that could do ... well, everything.
Face-up, jump shot, dribble drive, pass to a cutter.
Low post? Jump hook, turnaround jumper, spin move for the lay-in, pass to a cutter.
From anywhere? The dream shake.
Sorry. Let me re-type that.
The Dream Shake.
I'm not going to waste your time. Not going to muse aloud too much about why he isn't remembered as often as he should be, what his trip to Toronto may have done to his legacy, or the way ceding to Charles Barkley and then Steve Francis(notes) in his last few years in Clutch City may have needlessly dulled most NBA fans' recollections of this giant.
What I would like you to do, because no words suffice in the face of his brilliance, is ask you to watch this clip.