Sports Nicknames - The Dream

At the 1984 NBA draft, Houston Rockets picked up Hakeem Olajuwon as the first overall pick of the draft. Arguably, this proved to be the most iconic pick by Houston Rockets in NBA history as Hakeem went on to serve them over the next 17 years. In acknowledgment of his contributions and achievements, the Rockets retired Hakeem's Jersey number 34.

Hakeem Olajuwon, nicknamed The Dream - Profile illustration.  Drawing.  Avatar art.

Unlike the majority of the NBA players, Hakeem did not start off in a perfect system or suitable conditions. He was born in Nigeria and had his initial years there. Later, he moved to the USA and played for the University of Houston. At Houston Cougars, he had a fabulous college career.

He attracted immediate attention because of his effortless dunks. That's where his nickname originated as well.


The Dream:

Hakeem's Coach at Cougars was so impressed and inspired by his ability to score dunks at will that he defined it as a dream. Soon, his teammates also felt that dunking came naturally to him and started calling it "The Dream."

The term became particularly famous as Hakeem continued to impress and inspire for the rest of his career, and the term "The Dream" became synonymous with Hakeem's name.

That's the story behind one of the most iconic NBA nicknames. That is the reason why Hakeem Olajuwon was called "The Dream."

Phi Slama Jama:

The 1982-84 Houston Cougars team had the likes of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, who made dunking look like a routine job. They would rout oppositions with their aggressive ability and swift gameplay.

A Houston Post Columnist named Thomas Bonk observed the pattern and generated the phrase "Phi Slama Jama" which became the nickname of the Houston Cougars mainly because of Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. This was the first Slam Dunking Fraternity at the College Level. Cougars even wore the nickname on their warmup suits, as they liked the nickname coined by Thomas Bonk.

After Hakeem's promotion to the NBA level, Houston Cougars retired the Jersey number 34 in his honor.

Twin Towers:

At Houston Rockets, he formed an iconic duo with Ralph Simpson. Simpson's height was 7 feet 4 inches, while he himself was 7 feet tall. The duo was dubbed the "Twin Towers" because of their height.

Career Achievements and Performances:

Hakeem stayed at Houston Rockets between 1984 and 2001. During the period, he led the Houston Rockets team to two consecutive NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. On both these occasions, Hakeem was the MVP of the NBA Finals.

He was also the NBA MVP in 1994. Overall, he made it to the NBA All-Star 12 times which included two streaks of 6 seasons between 1985-90 and 1992-97. He also made it to the All-NBA First Team 6 times.

He was also part of the US National Basketball Team that won the Gold at Atlanta in 1996.


Though he played for Houston Rockets for most of his career, his final season was with Toronto Raptors. He played the 2001-02 season with them before retiring.

Hall of Fame:

In 2008, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Later, he was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2016.


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