1. Welcome! Please take a few seconds to create your free account to post threads, make some friends, remove a few ads while surfing and much more. ClutchFans has been bringing fans together to talk Houston Sports since 1996. Join us!

Blinebury: Hakeem past career's limits

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Old School, Sep 20, 2002.

  1. Old School

    Old School Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 1999
    Messages:
    2,844
    Likes Received:
    1
    I guess he was having Dream witdrawls.


    By FRAN BLINEBURY
    Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle

    This is the way the end usually comes for the great ones, on creaky legs and assorted other body parts that speak of betrayal rather than past brilliance.

    The medical staff of the Toronto Raptors says Hakeem Olajuwon has degenerating joints throughout his body. The question and joke, of course, among those of us who count our decades on more than just a couple of fingers is, "Who doesn't?"

    After all those years and all those games, all those pogo stick leaps to block shots and all those fadeway jumpers, all those dives to the floor for loose balls and all those indescribable tricks that won games and championships, there comes a time when there is nothing left to give.

    That time for Olajuwon probably came a year ago, maybe sooner. But like most of them before him, he had to push it to the limit and, even then, a little bit beyond to be sure. Just as so many centers and guards, shooters and rebounders, pitchers and hitters, quarterbacks and prizefighters before him.

    They don't leave until each of the gears on what was once a finely tuned athletic machine is stripped clean, until the last drop has been drained from the tank.

    The ones who got out on top can be counted on one hand -- Rocky Marciano, Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax, Secretariat, though you have to wonder if Big Red was ever really consulted.

    Call it sad, if you must. But it is much more in keeping with the natural order to do it the other way.

    The legendary Willie Mays stumbled around fly balls in the outfield for the New York Mets and the late Johnny Unitas tried to throw passes in the ill-fitting helmet of the San Diego Chargers.

    Larry Bird spent his final couple of seasons with the Boston Celtics sprawled on the hardwood floor of the sideline, nursing an excruciatingly painful back that allowed him to play only short stretches as a shadow of his former self. Even His Airness, Michael Jordan, is earthbound and something less than a wizard these days, but can't let it go.

    So a year ago, Olajuwon went off to Canada to prove the Rockets wrong and, in the end, maybe proved himself wrong instead.

    Like Patrick Ewing, a peer in the pantheon of great centers, his name and his game will always be linked to only one NBA city, one team. After 15 seasons with the New York Knicks, Ewing spent two years as an aging gypsy, bouncing from Seattle to Orlando in pursuit of a nonexistent dream and, just this week, acknowledged reality by announcing his retirement to become an assistant coach with Jordan's Washington Wizards.

    They are inextricably bound to each other, from their college days as big men on campus when Ewing led Georgetown to victory for the 1984 NCAA title over Olajuwon and Houston, to their almost parallel professional careers where Olajuwon lifted the Rockets to their brutally exquisite seven-game triumph against the Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals. Olajuwon was the No. 1 pick in the 1984 NBA draft; Ewing was the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft.

    Olajuwon has not yet made the end of a transcendent career official, but it is likely only a matter of timing and working out the financial terms of a divorce from Toronto. There are still two years -- and some $12 million -- left on the terms of the contract he signed last summer.

    But when they bring in the doctors to poke and probe and conclude a 39-year-old body with so many miles has worn-out joints, they are telling you your services are no longer wanted.

    It was, despite the sales pitch by All-Star Vince Carter and Raptors general manager Glen Grunwald, never a good fit for Olajuwon. If he were going to tilt at windmills in a playing life after the Rockets, Hakeem chose the wrong coach and the wrong system.

    Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens is not one to tirelessly drill his players on fundamentals and it was clear early in the marriage that the Raptors guards did not know how to get the ball to Olajuwon in the low post. Also, Olajuwon is not a just-fit-in type of role player. If you have Olajuwon on your team, you must use him, and that was never the Raptors' plan.

    Olajuwon averaged just 7.1 points, six rebounds and 22.6 minutes in 61 games last season; Wilkens repeatedly said he was saving him for the playoffs. Then the playoffs arrived and Olajuwon played even less as the Raptors were eliminated in the first round.

    Wilkens felt trapped and disappointed; Olajuwon felt betrayed and dishonored.

    The problems facing the Raptors have to do with Olajuwon's impact on their salary cap and their exposure to the luxury tax that takes effect this season.

    Olajuwon is in Toronto undergoing rehab for a back problem and his various other degenerative ailments, while agent Dan Fegan and the Raptors negotiate a settlement.

    Does Hakeem follow Ewing's peripatetic path and try to hook on with another team in another place to chase the faded dream?

    Not likely. Now he knows.

    This is the way it often ends, with the lawyers.
     
  2. xlr817

    xlr817 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2002
    Messages:
    790
    Likes Received:
    72
    Sad, ...but true:( !
     
  3. GATER

    GATER Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2000
    Messages:
    8,325
    Likes Received:
    78
    Bird seems like a strange choice to use for this comparison. And the description of Birds last years is a little off (IMHO).

    True, Bird played hurt his last two seasons but he played 2,227 & 1,662 total minutes. That's alot of minutes.

    By contrast, Olajuwon hasn't logged nearly that amount of playing time since 1,633 in '97-98 & 1,783 in the strike shortened '98-99 season. Hakeems teammates logged the following:
    Clark - 2,185 / Mo Pete - 1,988 / JYD Williams - 1,641

    Bird also averaged 19.4 & 20.2 ppg in his final two seasons. Olajuwon hasn't scored over 19 ppg since the '96-97 season.

    I know this will be construed as Olajuwon bashing, but I just don't see Bird as a very accurate parallel. Blinebury is using alot of writers' leeway.
     
    #3 GATER, Sep 20, 2002
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2002
  4. rimbaud

    rimbaud Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 1999
    Messages:
    8,169
    Likes Received:
    676
    Fran is an idiot.

    First he says that Hakeem might have passed his prime before he left Houston (wow, what insight!). Then he said Hakeem sucked last year because Raptor's guards suck (he made them sound like China's guards) and didn't know how to pass him the ball. And that Wilkins sucks and didn't use Hakeem correctly - thet the offense should be run through him.

    Hmmm....if a player is past his prime, why woulkd you run your offense through him, Frannie?

    Gater - I had been thinking the same thing about the Bird comparison.
     
  5. TCDREAM

    TCDREAM Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2002
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    touching story, i hope olajuwon retires and becomes an assistant with the rockets.

    Gater you really like Bird don't you.
     
  6. super_mario

    super_mario Member

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2002
    Messages:
    479
    Likes Received:
    1
    I don't think that Fran is way off in his assessment of Bird's final years. In 1991 Bird played in 60 games and 1992 he played in 45 games. I do remember seeing Bird on his back a lot on the sidelines. Though his points per game the final two years was still good, watching him I felt he was not close to the player he once was. Jordan's points per game last season was respectable but I think that we all agree that he is a shadow of his former self.

    I would have liked to have seen Fran include Barry Sanders in the group of atheletes that went out on top. Though his retirement was not graceful, Sanders definitely went out while he was still on top.
     
  7. RocketScientist

    RocketScientist Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 1999
    Messages:
    572
    Likes Received:
    29
    Sadly and unfortunately, I don't believe that Dream will be part of the Rockets organization any time in the near future. I think the way that Dream and the Rockets broke it off, left a lot of bad blood.

    I'd love to see him here in some capacity, but I think he has other plans for the rest of his life than coaching in the NBA.
     
  8. JoeBarelyCares

    JoeBarelyCares Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2001
    Messages:
    6,504
    Likes Received:
    1,736
    Now correct me if I'm wrong, sometimes my memory gets a little hazy. But didn't Blinebury write a scathing column early this year after getting his "exclusive" interview with Hakeem in the San Antonio locker room to the effect that the Rockets disrespected Hakeem (given that they chose Cato over Hakeem), and that Hakeem still had something in the tank? Wasn't this the subject of a 100+ post thread after the column came out? Can someone dig this up?

    And now Blinebury is saying Hakeem stayed a year too long?
     
  9. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2000
    Messages:
    20,091
    Likes Received:
    11,800
    Yeah, Blinebury's jaw has snapped back into shape by now.
     
  10. PhiSlammaJamma

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 1999
    Messages:
    28,828
    Likes Received:
    7,090
    Of the Dream Team, who went out gracefully:

    Pippen - No
    Barkley - No
    Ewing - No
    Laettner - No
    Drexler - Pretty much a yes
    Mullin - No
    Jordan - No
    Bird - No
    Stockton - Probably
    Malone - Probably
    Magic - No
    Robinson - Not too bad yet

    only one has retired gracefully, with the potential of three more. It's the price you pay for greatness.
     
  11. verse

    verse Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 1999
    Messages:
    5,775
    Likes Received:
    470
    laettner didn't come in gracefully.






    and for the record, it should've been shaq.
     
  12. edc

    edc Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    3,116
    Likes Received:
    14
    The only "non graceful" thing about Barkley's exit was his annual "yes I'm retiring, no I'm not" dance. Drexler's departure was much more bizarre, and likely would've been another "No" had the UH job [which he definitely left without grace :)] not come along...
     
  13. GATER

    GATER Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2000
    Messages:
    8,325
    Likes Received:
    78

    Birds career ppg average is 24.3. While you are correct in that he only played 60 & 45 games, it's important to note that when the back was healthy he played close to 38 minutes and scored 20 points. My deduction would be that skills were still basically there, but could not be used for 82 games.

    Let me put that in a different light.

    Shaq is arguably the best player in the game today. What if his toe continues to hamper his play? Let's say this season, Shaq misses the first 10 games, passes on the All Star game and rests the toe further, then a little more rest at the end of the season once the playoff spots have been secured. And the toe hampers him to drop from 27.6 ppg to 23.6 ppg in the 60 games he played.

    Is this a demonstration that his skill level has diminished from age or from a persistent injury?

    I realize I am drawing a fine line, but there is a difference between a player who no longer has a 40" vertical because of his age and one who has a 40" vertical but the balls of his feet hurt like hell when he hits the court thus limiting the number of times he may want to use that leap.

    Some of the more knowledgeable can correct me, but I also think Bird played out the two seasons with the bad back because his contract ended after those two years. I do not recall the specifics but I am almost positive his contract was part of it.
     
    #13 GATER, Sep 20, 2002
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2002
  14. CBrownFanClub

    CBrownFanClub Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 1999
    Messages:
    1,871
    Likes Received:
    64
    I'll try to keep this short, but isn't Hakeem also proving Blinebury wrong? Maybe I'm mistaken, and granted, I could figure a way to blame Frannie for the Cuban Missle Crisis if I tried (Blinebury-era reference intentional), but I seem to recall him writing more ZRB-esque "Respect The Dream" stuff than "You need to retire" stuff.

    A more interesting topic would be "what would have been if we did like I wanted us to and caved to Olajuwon's 'new-reason-to-call-him-The-Dream' demands last summer.

    I would like to see Frannie eat a little crow on behalf of the "Hail Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon" consituency.

    Clearly clearly clearly, Rudy and Carrol Dawson were justified in their hesitance to the mortgage cap space, team chemistry and the future of the team out of "loyalty" to a aging, injured, inflexible, semi-delusional former Franchise player. If anything, they were wrong to offer Hakeem as much as they did.

    The article I'd like to see? Here is what could-have-been if he had accepted our two or three year offer.

    You have your topic, Frannie (or anyone else). Discuss. Prove me wrong.

    CBFC
     
  15. heypartner

    heypartner Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 1999
    Messages:
    62,593
    Likes Received:
    56,350
    in my best ability to ignore a rimbaud post I will say:

    You can't point out Hakeem's moment of decline (which Fran did) and have it precede a $4.1m offer for one year that Les gave (which it did precede) and have the one yr offer prove to be actually generous offer (which Hakeem's last season and his medical physical results prove) and call Rudy a coach who isn't using Hakeem (which he previously did) and then say the move is good for Hakeem (which both Hakeem and Fran did) and then say Lenny wasn't using Hakeem right (which both Hakeem and Fran did)

    ...and not deny

    that Fran cannot get a Rockets player interview for the last 5 yrs from anyone other than Hakeem.

    let me attach to Hakeem and dream on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  16. edc

    edc Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    3,116
    Likes Received:
    14
    Going to the Chron Archives...Dec 13, 2001

    (I won't repost the whole thing, just a couple of key points)

    WHILE HE'LL ALWAYS TREASURE HIS 17 SEASONS WITH THE ROCKETS, HAKEEM OLAJUWON IS FEELING REJUVENATED AND NEWLY APPRECIATED AS A TORONTO RAPTOR.

    What a difference ten months make...
     
  17. Easy

    Easy Boban Only Fan
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    35,389
    Likes Received:
    24,503
    Huh?:confused:

    HP, I suspect that most people on this board have about the same IQ as mine, which is about 80 points lower than yours. Can you state your point in plain English rather than Rocket-scientish?
     
  18. rimbaud

    rimbaud Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 1999
    Messages:
    8,169
    Likes Received:
    676
    I can't believe you would try so hard to ignore me, heypee...and then agree with me, myself, and my comment.

    Maybe it would have been better if you had made your reply post into a numbered list. That way sloweasies could understand.
     
  19. NewYorker

    NewYorker Ghost of Clutch Fans

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2002
    Messages:
    6,130
    Likes Received:
    41
    I don't know if you can say Barkley didn't retire gracefully. He took a bad injury and let it go. The man didn't try to come back.

    As for Jordon, he's still the best player on that Team, and he may not be the best in the world anymore, but he's loving every minute he plays. He's not embarrassing himself out there.

    Drexler is a rare yes, but even his skills were deminishing.

    I don't understand why people are so intent that athletes should retire while someone is still willing to pay them a salary. These guys aren't 65, they are in their late 30's when people say they should leave. Let them play as long as they want....until every last bit of basketball juice is squeezed from them. Just because fans can't bear to see them a shell of their former selves means nothing. So long as they contribute they should be allowed to play if that's what they want.

    It's the media that's ungraceful...or perhaps ungrateful.

     
  20. NewYorker

    NewYorker Ghost of Clutch Fans

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2002
    Messages:
    6,130
    Likes Received:
    41
    Double post.
     

Share This Page

  • About ClutchFans

    Since 1996, ClutchFans has been loud and proud covering the Houston Rockets, helping set an industry standard for team fan sites. The forums have been a home for Houston sports fans as well as basketball fanatics around the globe.

  • Support ClutchFans!

    If you find that ClutchFans is a valuable resource for you, please consider becoming a Supporting Member. Supporting Members can upload photos and attachments directly to their posts, customize their user title and more. Gold Supporters see zero ads!


    Upgrade Now