Hakeem Olajuwon got a stylish goodbye from the Rockets last night. The team presented him with the two championship banners that have hung in the Compaq Center since 1995, among other things.
Something that has gotten overlooked in all of the nostalgia is how close all of this came to not happening. Hakeem missed 35 games in 1990-91 due to injury. The Rockets managed to play well in his absence - they won 52 games and Don Cheney was named Coach of the Year. The Rockets struggled in 1991-92 and missed the playoffs amidst turmoil and Cheney's firing. In the middle of all this, Olajuwon had a public spat with then-owner Charlie Thomas. It got so bad that he demanded a trade. Fortunately, everything got patched up before that came to pass. Hakeem bounced back from a subpar (for him) season and embarked on a run of dominance, and the Rockets rode him to the two NBA titles.
Making the sendoff even better, the Rockets won the game to go 3-2 on the season.Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 10, 2002 to Other sports | TrackBack