Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hakeem Olajuwon

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Olajuwon and Islam

Hakeem the Dream was known for being a devout Muslim.

Olajuwon believes that his religious faith supported his drive to a great career. During an NBA season he observes Islam's Ramadan, which includes periods of fasting. He would awaken before dawn to eat precisely seven dates -- the traditional Muslim fast-breaking food -- and to drink a gallon of water. He would follow with a prayer for strength and have no food or liquid until sunset.

When he played an afternoon game, he would pant for water -- but did not drink a drop. Still, he would say, “I find myself full of energy, explosive. And when I break the fast at sunset, the taste of water is so precious.”

Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon
  • Born: 1/21/63 in Lagos, Nigeria
  • Height: 7-0; Weight: 255 lbs.
  • High School: Muslim Teachers College (Lagos, Nigeria)
  • College: Houston
  • Drafted by: Houston Rockets (1984)
  • Was the first player in NBA history to accumulate both 2,000 blocked shots and 2,000 steals in a career
  • Nicknamed "The Dream"
  • Originally named Akeem Abdul Olajuwon, he dropped the "Abdul" while still in college and changed the spelling of his first name to "Hakeem" in 1991
  • Played soccer in Nigeria, where he was born; began to play basketball at age 17
  • Went to University of Houston on a basketball scholarship; played for the school's team, "Phi Slama Jama"
  • Became American citizen in 1993
  • Developed a $35 shoe with Spalding, resistent to attaching his name to a brand that most kids couldn't afford
  • A devout Muslim, fasted for month of Ramadan, even during basketball season, developing a thyroid condition and iron deficiency; was benched for two weeks
  • Has made commercials for Taco Bell, Minolta, Uncle Ben's Rice and Rochester Big & Tall


Introduced to basketball at age 15, when he stood 6 ft 9 in. (206 cm) tall, he soon became the center for the Nigerian national team. In 1981–84 he attended the Univ. of Houston, where he led his team three consecutive times to the National Collegiate Athletic Association's “Final Four” (national tournament semifinals). Drafted by the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, he formed part of the “Twin Towers” offense (1984–87) with the even taller Ralph Sampson, and gradually emerged as the dominant big man in the NBA. “The Dream” became an American citizen in 1993. In 1994 and 1995 he led the Rockets to the NBA championship and was the league's most valuable player for the 1993–94 season. In the mid-1990s he and Shaquille O'Neal were regarded as the NBA's best centers. Olajuwon signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2001 but retired the following year.

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Fast Facts information about Hakeem Olajuwon
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Encyclopedia information about Hakeem Olajuwon
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition Copyright © 2003, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


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