Player Focus – Hakeem Olajuwon

When talking about the best big men of all time, one will be hard pressed to find a list without Hakeem Olajuwon on it. He has been known as one of the greatest players ever, as well as being the greatest post player ever seen. His combination of height, speed, strength, and skills has propelled him as the prototypical center that every team covets. Let’s take a look at the aspects of Hakeem The Dream’s game and why so many fans, and even players, almost worship his body of work.



Post Moves

Perhaps the thing that made Hakeem a household name, is his seemingly endless array of post moves. He post moves, counter post moves, and even counters to his counters. This makes defenders go crazy in trying to predict what move Olajuwon is going to make against them, and by the time they realize, they are left in the dust via the Dream Shake. Olajuwon’s uncanny combination of speed, finesse, and footwork makes his post moves fatal especially when defended one on one.


UNDATED: Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon #34 looks to pass during a game. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Hakeem Olajuwon  


On offense, it’s not only his scoring ability that makes The Dream a nightmare to defend, but his passing as well. He has excellent vision and can pass the ball should the situation call for it. This is why teams cannot just double team him down low as he will find the open man most likely. This results in single coverage, where Olajuwon leaves almost all of his defenders dumbfounded as to what happened.




Not only does Olajuwon strike fear in the opponent’s heart with his offensive arsenal, but also with his excellent defense. Whether in a one on one or help situation, Olajuwon has the ability to affect every shot that goes up. He can block shots and alter the ones that he did not block. Despite his height, he also has the ability to anticipate the ball carefully, resulting in steals and turnovers. He is a former Defensive Player of the Year and the award is well-deserved.




Hakeem has been known as sort of a quiet individual. He rarely displays any emotion on the court and does not engage in any trash talking. Shaquille O’Neal has repeatedly said that his trash talking ways have never gotten anywhere when doing it to Olajuwon. Despite all of this though, you will be hard pressed to find many guys who is as competitive as him on the basketball court. Perhaps the most notable display of this competitiveness is during the 1995 Western Conference Finals against San Antonio, where he faced then MVP, David Robinson. Hakeem wanted that trophy and feels he deserved it, and he certainly played like it, destroying The Admiral and showed the world just who was the best basketball player in the world.




When the Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995 as the 6th seed, it was then that the world got to see Olajuwon’s greatness, and of course, his leadership. In the 2nd round against Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns, they were down 1-3 but came roaring back to win the series behind Olajuwon’s leadership. He led the team eventually to the finals, where they impressively swept the young and talented Orlando Magic which were led by Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway.



Though he didn’t win as much as other greats, Olajuwon has maintained a career long excellence and is considered as one of the greatest ever. The fact that he didn’t start playing basketball at an early age makes it even more surprising that he has achieved the success he has on the court. Carrying his teams to championships while being comparatively inferior talent wise is why Hakeem is so looked up to in the basketball world and his knowledge of the game is always sought after by fans and players.

Player Focus – Shaquille O’Neal

Very few players have the impact that matches what Shaquille O’Neal has brought to the NBA ever since he first stepped on the basketball court. The self-proclaimed MDE(Most Dominant Ever) has been an unstoppable force that every team fears. There were only a few who could match his production, and almost none who exceeded them. We shall take a look at the best aspects of Shaq’s game and how he dominated the floor each and every night.



What’s fairly obvious just from seeing O’Neal, is his immense strength. His massive frame requires a lot of strength just to move, which makes it amazing to see him move around the court, especially during his Orlando days. His strength allows him to bulldoze his way inside for the easy basket, and also allows him to body up anyone that he’s defending. He does not have a lot of post moves, which is really not that important since his strength allows him to move straight ahead without worrying about the defense.




One of the most surprising things about Shaq especially the first time you see him play, is his incredible athleticism. Despite his massive frame and sometimes out of shape state, he can run the floor, jump for blocks and rebounds, and move quickly around the rim. This makes him very hard to game plan for. With his back to the basket, he can either bulldoze his defender or move around him using his quickness. This makes him impossible to guard on a one on one situation.



Mental Fortitude

One of the most underrated characteristics of Shaq is his mental toughness. Due to his frequent battles with his weight and his goofy persona off the court, people have this impression of him that he does not take the game seriously. However if we take a look at some of his biggest games, especially the playoffs and finals, it’s very rare that he has an off-night and he has proven to frequently hit his free throws whenever the game is tight. This makes him one of the toughest minded competitors in the league.



While he was not as dominating for a long time that everyone expected him to be, Shaq’s impact on the league was felt in every city throughout his prime. Even when past his prime, he helped Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat win their first ever championship, thanks to his inside presence which helped D-Wade transform into a prime time player. He has also feuded with a few of his teammates and coaches but everyone knows that every time you have Shaquille on your team, you will contend for the championship every year.