HOUSTON — Former Houston Rockets star and NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon was such a defensive presence during his time in the league that now the NBA is honoring him by renaming an award after the center.
NBA announced Tuesday morning that the Defensive Player of the Year award has been renamed The Hakeem Olajuwon Trophy in honor of the Hall of Famer.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate the league’s best defensive player each year,” Olajuwon said in a press release sent out by the Rockets. “Great basketball teams are defined by their ability to defend, with every great team connected by an elite defensive anchor.”
Olajuwon was a back-to-back winner of the Defensive Player of the Year award in 1992-93 and 1993-94 and was named All-Defensive First Team five times and Second Team four times.
The Rockets legend is the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks (3,830) while ranking ninth in steals (2,162) and 14th in rebounding (13,748). Steals and blocks became official NBA statistics in 1973-74.
Olajuwon is the only player in NBA history who is ranked top 10 in both categories. He has 774 more steals than any other center in league history.
The Hall of Famer has 541 more blocks than the second-ranked player, former Rocket Dikembe Mutombo, and would still be the all-time leader in blocks if he never played his final five seasons.
Only five players have recorded more than 3,000 career blocks and no current player has reached 1,800.
Over his first 12 seasons, Olajuwon averaged 12.2 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and 1.9 steals. He averaged at least 10.0 rebounds and 2.00 blocks in each of those 12 seasons, tying Shaquille O’Neal for the most seasons recording those numbers in NBA history.
Olajuwon is also the NBA’s all-time playoff leader in blocks per game (3.26) and is the only player in postseason history with at least 300 blocks and 200 steals.
The University of Houston product was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in 1996 and to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team in 2021.
He was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and had his number 34 retired by the Rockets on Nov. 9, 2002.