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On June 19, 1984, the Houston Rockets had the first pick in the National Basketball Association draft.

In a stacked lineup that included numerous future All-Stars and several future Hall of Famers, the Rockets selected center Akeem (later Hakeem) Olajuwon from the University of Houston.

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Olajuwon led the Houston Cougars to the Final Four in each of three years he played, including two appearances in the NBA championship game.

The team, which also included future Hall of Famer and Rockets teammate Clyde Drexler, became known as “Phi Slamma Jamma.”


As a former soccer goalie, Olajuwon was only playing basketball for four years when he was drafted by his hometown Rockets. He was drafted ahead of future Hall of Famers Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, as well as eventual All-Stars Alvin Robertson, Otis Thorpe and Kevin Willis.

In Olajuwon’s first year with the Rockets, the team improved by 19 wins. The “Twin Towers” of Olajuwon and center Ralph Sampson blocked shots and intimidated opponents who dared to step into the lane. His footwork as a soccer goalie helped him develop his trademark low-post move, the “Dream Shake.”

The pinnacle of Olajuwon’s professional career came in 1994, when the Rockets battled the New York Knicks in seven grueling games to win Houston’s first major pro sports championship.

Olajuwon and the Rockets would repeat the feat the following year when he, along with former Cougar teammate Clyde Drexler, swept the Orlando Magic in four games to win the 1995 NBA Championship.

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Olajuwon also won Olympic gold as part of “Dream Team III” in Atlanta in 1996. He was voted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

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