Today is Day 34 of the Omer. Yesod sheb’hod. The Humble Pioneer.
Day 34, ultimately came down to two 7 foot superstars with Nigerian roots: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Hakeem Olajuwon. On yesod sheb’hod, you can’t go wrong choosing between two humble superstars who have become pioneers in professional basketball. Giannis is already a League MVP, but we’re giving the nod to Hakeem for being a top 10 player of all-time.
The Hall of Famer is a 2x NBA Champion and former League MVP. The 12x All-Star was a defensive force, leading the leagie in blocks (3x) and rebounds (2x), while being a 2x Defensive Player of the Year and 9x All-Defensive Team member.
Oh, and he was pretty good on offensive too. Over 18 years, he averaged 21.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.5 assists, with an incredible range of moves and countermoves. His signature Dream Shake even deserves it’s own highlight video.
There’s no way to do justice to Hakeem’s whole basketball journey from Lagos, Nigeria to the Final Four with the University of Houston, to playing pickup vs Moses Malone.
For the Houston Rockets, he formed one of the original Twin Towers with fellow 7 footer Ralph Sampson, fasted through Ramadan while playing in the NBA, and winning two NBA titles. If you’ve got twenty minutes, enjoy Hakeem’s NBA story below.
Hakeem was a pioneer, paving the way for players like Giannis. I wish I could see Hakeem play again today. With his size, speed, skill, and agility, he’d still be the best center in the NBA, but he’s probably too humble to think so.