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Fan Responses to Hakeem Trade

August 3, 2001

How do you feel about Hakeem Olajuwon leaving the only basketball city he's ever known? With Wednesday's announcement that Olajuwon has broken off negotiations with the Rockets and is requesting a trade, we would like to know what you think about his decision. Just click on the "Fan Mail" link on our home page to send us your thoughts. The following is a small sample of the responses we have received.

Jack and I moved to Houston in 1980. We have always been avid basketball fans and needless to say, Hakeem has been a household word. I have a box full of memorabilia regarding Hakeem's career, including a plaque which hangs on the wall in our breakfast room. I am 70 and Jack is 72, have both retired and still basketball fans. We will miss Hakeem, Houston will never be the same. We love him and wish him well. We hate to see him go but we support him in his decision. God Bless Hakeem.
Jack and Donna Miller

I've always liked Hakeem but it was time for him to go, one way or the other. He was great for Houston and that will never be forgotten but now the game has passed him up. Hakeem has seen limited action over the past few years so why would the Rockets shell out all the money for a part time player? Along with that, it's time to let all these young guys get out and play like they can, as opposed to waiting on Dream to get down the court. A sign and trade deal was the best thing the Rockets could have done. At least this way they get two draft picks out of the deal. Last but not least, not signing Dream to some crazy deal allows the Rockets to spend that money on another center that will play just in case Cato doesn't come to play every night.
Larry Mills

All I can say is that I'm embarrassed by the media and some of the posts on Rockets.com indicating Hakeem made a financially-based decision to leave Houston. That's absurd considering the difference between the contracts was a couple of million dollars, which is a drop in the bucket now for Hakeem. If anything, the Rockets organization made the financial decision to develop the younger players over Olajuwon's touches. There was obvious mismanagement of balance required to develop younger players while utilizing Dream. When the Rockets wised up last year they went on a tear. He clearly made the decision to go where he was wanted. Hakeem is the greatest player to play the game in my opinion - not just Houston's greatest athlete. Being a center you are completely at the mercy of your ball handler and coaching staff to receive the ball. He wasn't getting it anymore. Drexler understood this fact, which Barkley and Pippen did not. If you want a ring it goes through Dream. It took Phil Jackson to implement a system that allowed Shaq to get his titles. Hakeem is a living legend that brought the ONLY championship to Houston sports. He should be allowed to do what he wants no questions asked. Don't be bitter - just remember Sammy and Horry riding on that fire truck during the parade. Or making Charles Barkley eat his guarantee in the '95 playoffs. Watching Phi Slama Jama all over again with the Glyde in '95. Being in the only city where a pair of Etonics are cooler than Air Jordans. There are just countless memories of watching Dream play a sport I love. Unlike other Houston icons that were dealt (Nolan Ryan, Warren Moon) this was Hakeem's decision. I wish him and the Rockets the best of luck next year.
Bryan Abbott

I have been a long time Rockets fan since the Moses Malone/Calvin Murphy era. The Hakeem era came to an end in 1999. Hakeem has been a shell of himself for the last several years. With that in mind he received $16+ million last year for 1/2 a season, the other half injured or brooding about being traded or released. Hakeem was a true warrior, but loyalty and gratitude are not in his vocabulary. Hakeem signed with the Raptors for an extra 4 million dollars. I guess he needed the extra money. I salute you Hakeem for what you brought the Rockets but I think greed is what drives you now, not the hunger for a championship. I guess that is why you feel like a "rookie" now. Good Luck Hakeem.
Jimmy Rivers

I can't say whether management has done the right thing or not - because they are the professionals in the business, not me. The value of the $5 million dollar trade exception is being missed, for understandable reasons, during this emotional time. But the exception will some day be handy to have in the pocket. Matching salaries of players in any trade and staying the cap can be pretty tough.

Hakeem was great and I hate to see him go. I think he could have still made valuable contributions to the team. But he has been paid $32 million for the last two seasons, while playing more like a $5 million a year player; not, however, due to a lack of effort or desire.

All that being said, it was pretty tough to tell my nine-year-old son news this morning. I tried to explain the reasons to him, but as he choked up and the tears welled up in his eyes, I knew that no explanation would be good enough for him. I'm sure he is not the only little fan with a broken heart in this town today. It would have been much preferred to be wishing Hakeem well into his retirement, rather into another jersey. Our family won't be watching him in that new jersey on TV or when the Raptors come to town - not out of bitterness, but simply because I know my son just couldn't stand it - and I'm not sure I could either. Nonetheless, we wish you well Hakeem. You can still prove all the naysayers wrong.
Denis Abercrombie - The Woodlands, TX

It was very disappointing to wake up and find out that the greatest basketball player in Rockets history is going to Toronto because he wants more money. He WAS a great player and I WAS a big fan of his, but that has all gone down the drain. What is even more disappointing is the fact that fans are blaming the Rockets front office for not trying to keep him. That is BS. They tried all they could to keep him, but in the end, the true Hakeem finally surfaced. I can remember when he demanded to be traded several times in his career in Houston because he wasn't getting the ball. Well it was justified then, but not in the last three years. There is a new sheriff in town and his name is Stevie "Franchise." All I can say is at least we got some draft picks out of it. I am looking forward to booing him when he comes to Houston in March.
Alex Chang - Houston, TX

What else is new? Just another Houston sports legend shown the door before being allowed to retire on his own terms. I'm certain Hakeem will demonstrate his best Nolan Ryan impersonation and show us all how much gas was left in his tank. It's just a shame that Rockets management didn't show any interest in Hakeem until Webber and other possible replacements were not available. The negotiations should have taken place last year before the season ended. Sure Hakeem cried out loud a couple of times by trying to latch on with the Heat, but I'm sure he just felt he wasn't getting the respect from the coaches, players and management like he deserved. Well the Rockets will surely realize his value after they see the hole that Hakeem will leave behind. I sure hope the Texans learn from the Oilers, Astros and Rockets and don't operate the same by letting home town or state legends retire under adopted teams.
James Alexander

The Rockets came perilously close to having two very overpaid centers instead of one. Extending an offer to Hakeem for three more years was incomprehensibly absurd. The Rockets should breathe a sigh of relief that, in the end, it was all about money for Olajuwon. Close call, but at least now a significant chunk of salary dollars has been freed up and the Rockets have a number one and number two draft choice. They can proceed with speed and youth without the encumbrance of a player who is no longer great. Olajuwon is clearly the greatest Rocket ever to play, but not in the last few years and not in the future. Loyalty cuts both ways. When Hakeem came to town, he thought the size 11 basketball shoes he wore were the largest made. He leaves a multi-millionaire, more than adequately compensated for his services. In the end, it was all about money to him, and that is sad.
Pat Jensen - Kingwood, TX

Hakeem has long been my favorite player in the NBA. In fact, I will find it very difficult to ever admire anyone more, including MJ, who I admire greatly! The Dream gave Houston (my hometown) two championships! He lifted Houstonians up on his shoulders and carried us to glory. I have lived all over the country and no where have I ever heard anything from opposing fans but respect for him. No one will ever argue his status as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.

Think about it. He came to our country as a former soccer player (a goalie) and practically learned the game of basketball in college at U. of H. Can you imagine trying to score a goal on him? Quite intimidating! He quickly caught on to the sport and dominated. He lived the dream. He is "The Dream!" Alas, it is over for him in Houston. It is time for hime to move on to other challenges. For those who think he is less than loyal, check your sights again. Both the Rockets and Raptors see that change is needed.

The Rapters give Hakeem a better chance of seeing a championship again. The Rockets are not too far from one as I see it. However, it may not have come before Hakeem's retirement. But, if I would want anyone to succeed, it would be Hakeem. Good luck. We'll be cheering for you!
Tom Culotta - New Jersey

I am a Ghanaian-born-Nigerian. I have idolized Hakeem since arriving in the U.S. 15 years ago. I am disappointed with his decision to leave the Rockets. However, he is a man of principle. And I do believe that in his heart he feels he's made the right decision. As his loyal fan, I can't help but to support his decision. I know he will contribute significantly to the Raptors - both defensively and offensively. I wish him the best and fruitful three years in Toronto. Keep your faith and play hard, brother Hakeem.

At his age of 38, he is still significantly better than most centers in the NBA. While he doesn't have the trademark footwork, he can still rebound and score. Other than Alonzo Mourning, and perhaps Dikembe Mutombo, Hakeem is better than every center in the Eastern Conference. He can impact a game from both ends of the court more so than Dikembe, Ewing, and other high-priced centers in the East. Please look forward to Hakeem representing the East in the All-Star game. I will always be your loyal fan, Hakeem!
Tunde Brimah

I don't have the words to express my extreme disappointment with both Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. I don't believe either of you tried very hard to work out an agreement that would keep Olajuwon in Houston. The Rockets management didn't seem to want to pay enough to keep him and he seemed anxious to go. I don't understand this at all. Hakeem should have stayed and retired as a Rocket, and management should have done whatever it took to make this happen. I will be very slow getting over this blow.
Billie Bolton

What Hakeem is doing for his last year is no different than what his friend Clyde Drexler did when he left the Blazers. He wanted a ring before he retired and he knew Houston could do that at that time. I feel the same is the case here where Houston did not place in the playoffs last year and I think he believes as many others do, Toronto has a good chance this coming year of taking it all.
Owen Adams

The greatest player in Rockets history. You came, you saw, and you conquered. And now it's time to move on. Of course he wasn't what he used to be - no one can stay at 100 percent throughout his career in professional sports. Why are we so negative to the Dream's decision? He did us the favor, he brought two consecutive championships to this city and we owe him our gratitude. Instead of condemning him for his move, we should be throwing a farewell party for him. The Dream has left us all with great memories and high expectations for a talented Rockets team. I don't speak for everyone in this city when I say this, but I'm thrilled just to see the Dream playing again. I'm glad he feels he's still got game, which he does. And I simply want to say it's time for us all to wake up from our Dream, and continue to look back on the great memories and look forward to the impression that man has left for this team. Thanks Hakeem.
Zeb Agbanyim - Maryland

Go to More Hakeem Trade Fan Responses -- Page 2