Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (born January 21, 1963) is a retired Nigerian American professional basketball player. From 1984 to 2002, he played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. He led the Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Listed at 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) but closer to 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) by his own admission, Olajuwon is considered one of the greatest centers ever to play the game.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon traveled from his home country to play for the University of Houston. Under Coach Guy Lewis, he had a standout career for the Cougars alongside future NBA Hall of Fame player Clyde Drexler, which included three trips to the Final Four. At the time, he spelled his first name Akeem. Olajuwon was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the first overall selection of the 1984 NBA Draft, a draft that included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton. Olajuwon joined the Houston Rockets and was affectionately known as "Akeem The Dream" for his grace on and off the court. He combined with the 7 ft 4 in (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson to form a duo dubbed the "Twin Towers". The two led the Rockets to the 1986 NBA Finals, where they lost in six games to the Boston Celtics.
After Sampson was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1988, Olajuwon became the Rockets' undisputed leader. He led the league in rebounding twice (1989, 1990) and shot-blocking three times (1990, 1991, 1993). Raised as a Muslim, Olajuwon became more devoted to the faith during this period and changed the spelling of his name from Akeem to Hakeem. In the 1993-94 season he became the only player in NBA history to win the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP), Defensive Player of the Year, and Finals MVP awards in the same season. His Rockets won back-to-back championships against the New York Knicks, avenging his college championship loss to Patrick Ewing, and Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando Magic. In 1996 Olajuwon was a member of the Olympic gold-medal-winning United States national team, and was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He ended his career as the league's all-time leader in blocked shots. Olajuwon is the only NBA player ever to end his career in the Top 10 for both blocks (1st all-time) and steals (8th all-time).