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Hakeem Encyclopedia N-O

Join rockets.com as we celebrate the career of one of the greatest centers the game has ever known, Hakeem Olajuwon, with this special Hakeem A-Z encyclopedia. Be sure to check back each week as we continue to bring you notes and exclusive photos from Olajuwon's illustrious career.


National All-Sports Festival - Hakeem represented the Lagos State junior team in handball and basketball in 1979. The team used an ambulance to quickly get Hakeem from the handball field to the basketball court, so he could help both teams win. He led the handball team in scoring and the basketball team in rebounding as both teams won the gold medal.

NBA records - In addition to his blocked shots record, Hakeem is also one of only eight players in NBA history with more than 20,000 points and 12,000 rebounds in his career.

NBA Finals records - Hakeem shares the NBA Finals single-game record for most blocked shots with eight against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 1986 NBA Finals. He also owns the NBA Finals record for most points in a four-game series (131, 32.8) vs. Orlando in 1995.

NBA Postseason records - Hakeem shares the NBA single-game playoff record for most blocked shots with 10 against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the 1990 Western Conference first-round series.

NBA Draft - Hakeem was selected No. 1 in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets on June 19, 1984. Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton were also selected in the draft. Hakeem left the University of Houston one year early in hopes the Rockets would draft him. He announced on April 27, 1984 that he was leaving UH.

New York - Hakeem first arrived in New York from Nigeria on October 10, 1980. He found the city so cold it took him about 15 minutes to decide not to visit St. John's University. He instead jumped on a flight to Houston, where he found the weather much more comfortable.

New York Knicks - Defeated by the Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals.

Nicknames - While growing up in Nigeria, Hakeem was called "Shorty" and "Too Tall" because of his height in proportion to his peers. He did not like either name. He was also known as "Koko One" when he was playing basketball at Rowe Park in Lagos. His freshman year in college he was nicknamed "Jellybean" by a UH secretary, which was quickly shortened to "Jelly" by his UH teammates. For a time he was also known as "Lil Mo" because of the lessons he was being taught by Moses Malone at the Fonde Recreation Center. Then someone called him "The Dream" and the rest is history.

Nigeria - Hakeem's native country, which is officially known as Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the most populous country in Africa and is located on the western coast of the continent. Most of the population is made up of three tribes. The Yoruba are a mixture of Christians and Muslims. The Ibo are Christians. The Hausa are Muslims.

No. 34 - The number worn by Hakeem at both the University of Houston and with the Rockets. UH retired Hakeem's No. 34.

North Carolina State - The Wolfpack defeated UH in the 1983 NCAA Championship game in one of the biggest upsets of all time. Hakeem was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.


Olajuwon - Yoruban word for "always being on top."

Olajuwon, Abike - Hakeem's mother. She brokered cement deals at the Lagos docks and in their neighborhood.

Olajuwon, Dalia Asafi - Hakeem's wife. They were married August 8, 1996. They have two children, Aisha and Rahmah.

Olajuwon, Salaam - Hakeem's father. He worked the Lagos docks brokering cement deals for the growing city.

O'Neal, Shaquille - Hakeem was his idol when he came into the league. O'Neal got a chance to work out with Olajuwon during the summer of 1992 and they became friends. Hakeem taught him the Dream Shake.

Orlando Magic - The Magic were swept by the Rockets in the 1995 NBA Finals. Hakeem was named the MVP of the series and had a tip-in at the buzzer to win Game 1.

Otenigbade, Ganiyu - Became Hakeem's first basketball coach after seeing him on a soccer field and convincing him to split time between handball and basketball. He taught Hakeem the footwork for making a layup and continued working with him on the fundamentals. Otenigbade chose Hakeem to play on the Muslim Teachers College team and for Lagos State.