Will Dwight Howard actually try to learn from Hakeem Olajuwon?

Dwight-Howard-RocketsThe Houston Rockets announced on Monday that they are planning to bring back Hakeem Olajuwon for the first time since 2001 as a mentor for their interior players. We all know what that means — Olajuwom will be brought on board to work with Dwight Howard.

On paper, the move sounds like a no-brainer for the Rockets. Olajuwon is a two-time NBA Finals MVP and one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, so Howard should be able to soak up plenty by working with him throughout the summer.

“(Howard) has improved so much,” Olajuwon told Houston Chronicle, via FOX Sports Southwest. “I like with the Houston Rockets he will get a chance to show his true potential. That’s exciting. The last two years, he has not really been given that opportunity to really, really express his game, his comfort level and confidence. Here he has a team that is willing to do that. They want him to do that.”

Now, the question becomes how receptive Howard will be to the advice. When Dwight announced his decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar expressed doubt that he will actually be open to allowing Olajuwon to help him improve his game. In fact, Abdul-Jabbar claims Howard reached out to him about working together in LA but never followed up with it.

Howard is one of those players that does not want to be compared to anyone else. He didn’t want to be the next Shaq in LA and he won’t want to be the next Hakeem in Houston. He wants to be Dwight Howard. What he has to realize is that he can be Dwight Howard while allowing Hall of Famers to help him get better. If he changes his attitude and is more open to tutoring, the possibilities for the Rockets will be endless.

Shaq on Hakeem Olajuwon: He’s the only player I couldn’t intimidate

shaq hakeemShaquille O’Neal was able to dominate every center whom he faced during his career except for one: Hakeem Olajuwon.

The Dream turned 50 on Monday, so TNT’s “Inside the NBA” ran a tribute to the Houston Rockets legend. Following the piece, which showed Olajuwon mentoring and training select big men, Shaq was full of praise for the man who outplayed him.

“Hakeem Olajuwon was the only guy that I couldn’t intimidate,” Shaq said of Hakeem.

Shaq then talked about his intimidation tactics and how they didn’t work on Olajuwon.

“When I would say something, if you say something back, I had you. If I [elbow] you and you complain, I had you,” Shaq explained.

“Right before the (1995) finals — we had beaten Houston twice that year in Houston and in Orlando — Hakeem was good, but I didn’t know that he was that good. I was in my own zone and wasn’t really worried about anybody else. First play of the game, I gave him the patented Shaq ‘bow, jump hook, 2-0. He just smiled at me. And then he came down and gave me [a move], shot a jumper and said, ‘right back at you, Big Fella.’

“So I came down and did it again, but I could never get to him. I could never intimidate him.”

Shaq then went on to explain how the variety in Olajuwon’s moves made him so difficult to guard.

“He’s a guy that you couldn’t study. Like Alonzo (Mourning) and Patrick (Ewing) and all the Georgetown guys, they would fake left and go hard right with that dumb, running jump hook. Hakeem Olajuwon, he would go left, he would go right, so you really couldn’t study for him. The best defense was put your hands up and hope he misses.”

Olajuwon won two titles during his career, and they came in back-to-back seasons when Michael Jordan took time off to purse a professional baseball career. He was toward the prime of his career when he squared off against Shaq in the ’95 finals. Shaq was still young and much thinner back then. Though Shaq would lose in those finals, he went on to win four titles.

Shaq didn’t have many players who could stop him during his career. Hakeem was probably the only big man ever who got the best of him. Now that Shaq’s retired, it’s nice to see him recognize that.

We’ll also leave you with this classic Taco Bell commercial between Shaq and Hakeem that played on the rivalry between them:

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Hakeem Olajuwon: JaVale McGee should dominate the NBA

JaVale McGee has cultivated a reputation for being a talented player whose goofball tendencies mar his accomplishments. In one moment he can make a highlight-reel block, and in the next he’ll be benched for throwing an alley-oop to himself. That’s what made Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon’s comments about the big man so perplexing.

Olajuwon has been working with McGee at his big man camp in Houston and glowed about his pupil.

“No question, I see him as another star,” Olajuwon said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports in Houston. “That guy should dominate the league.

“He has tremendous talent. I give him all these moves and he can finish and he’s already skilled. So now just show him how to use that skill to (get) to the next level.”

Sure, McGee has the talent to be one of the league’s top centers, but Hakeem is dreaming. That’s like me saying “all Carlos Zambrano needs is a level head and he could be a Hall of Famer.” It’s just too far off from happening. McGee is a good player, but he has a long way to go to put it all together.

via Rotoworld

LeBron James Working with Hakeem Olajuwon to Develop Post Game

LeBron James was criticized for his lack of post game during the playoffs. While LeBron has shown he can play in the post (and has been ranked as a top five post player), there’s always room for improvement, especially if you’re working with one of the best post players of all time.

Just like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, LeBron James has been practicing with Hakeem Olajuwon.

“I look at what he was able to do throughout his career,” James told the AP. “Unbelievable talent. Multiple champion. Just to see how he was able to dominate in the low post, for me as an individual, I just try to look at some of the things I feel I need to get better at and hit home at it. Our team becomes better if I continue to get better and that’s what it’s about.”

“I’m doing whatever it takes just to become a better basketball player,” he told ESPN.

So what we have here is some talk from LeBron. It sounds great, and working with Hakeem can never be a bad thing, but the real test will be if LeBron utilizes his new skills during games. As mentioned before, it’s not as if LeBron doesn’t have a post game, it’s that he doesn’t utilize it frequently enough. If he can start taking advantage of opponents by using it during games, the Heat will be much more difficult.

World’s Best Scorer Isn’t Too Proud to Learn from Another Great

I’ve been more than critical of Kobe Bryant throughout his tenure with the Lakers. Although Kobe’s character has turned me off, I always respected what I’ve heard is a legendary work ethic. Now I have no choice but to once and for all accept Kobe Bryant for what he stands for after seeing a few clips played on TNT Thursday night. When the Lakers were playing the Rockets, not only could you see Kobe show off some of his new offensive moves, but you also saw TNT play a video of Kobe training with Hakeem Olajuwon during the offseason. Turns out Kobe went out of his way to contact The Dream and ask Hakeem if he could teach him his legendary post moves. Hakeem was thrilled to help out:

Could you imagine being Hakeem and just hanging out at home, only to receive an email from the NBA Finals MVP asking to train with you? Usually the young guys in the NBA are the disrespectful punks who think they know it all and don’t want to learn from anyone. But then you have Kobe Bryant, 13 seasons into his Hall of Fame career, and he still wants to add to his game, and he goes out of his way to contact one of the smoothest players ever in order to improve himself. I don’t know if I’ve done a complete 180 here, but this story has completely changed the way I look at Kobe. Now I really have respect for Kobe. Anyway, here’s the originally Dream Shake in action.

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