Rockets unveil sculpture honoring Olajuwon
Former Rockets great honored during Friday's game against Phoenix
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Rockets.com Staff Writer
HOUSTON -- The Dream will last forever at Toyota Center.
The Rockets have unveiled a new bronze sculpture honoring legendary center Hakeem Olajuwon.
The 12-foot high sculpture featuring Olajuwon's No. 34 jersey was placed on the corner of LaBranch and Polk streets, outside the main entrance of Toyota Center.
Designed by local artist Eric Kaposta, the sculpture honors Olajuwon and his numerous career achievements.
"I can not express myself," Olajuwon said. "It's beautiful. I feel so honored that they've given me this gesture."
The 1,000-pound bronze sculpture, which prominently displays Olajuwon's No. 34 jersey with a basketball behind it, rests on a red granite foundation that displays Olajuwon's career milestones.
The Rockets had been planning to honor Olajuwon with a sculpture outside the arena since retiring the center's number in 2002.
"Once I saw what they did for Michael Jordan (in Chicago), I knew we had to do that for 'Dream,'" Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said. "We want to have a tradition of winning and people knowing that when they come here, it's a place to be."
The soon-to-be Hall of Famer is the first and only player in franchise history to be recognized with a sculpture outside the Rockets' arena.
Olajuwon is the NBA's all-time leading shot blocker and set himself apart from the game's other giants with an array of spin moves and twists that have never been duplicated in the post. By leading the Rockets to two NBA championships with his fluid moves, Olajuwon is widely considered the greatest player in franchise history. He was recently selected for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
During halftime of Friday's game against Phoenix, the Rockets paid further tribute to Olajuwon by altering The Dream's retired banner hanging in the rafters to acknowledge his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
"This is a dream," Olajuwon said. "If you write a book, I don't think you can write it any better. All the accomplishments are on there. When a player comes to Houston, they'll have in the back of their mind that this is a winning organization. It sets the stage for every player that we have tradition."