On many occasions, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan has gone out of his way to show respect to Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets, who were the only other NBA champion from 1991 through 1998.
There’s long been mutual respect between the two Hall of Famers, who were each selected within the first three picks of the 1984 NBA Draft and effectively served as the league’s cornerstones in the 1990s.
Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the admiration extends to family members. Marcus Jordan, Michael Jordan’s son, was recently asked on the Bulls Talk Podcast of NBC Sports Chicago who he viewed as the second-best NBA player of all-time (after his father, of course).
Marcus Jordan responded:
Until LeBron’s journey is over, I can’t put him there. …
I’m probably going Hakeem. I’m just thinking of guys that really changed the game. … It’s hard to take somebody from this era and put them in that 90s era. If you didn’t play in that era, you don’t really understand the magnitude of what it was, day in and day out. It was a grind.
Marcus, who is Michael’s second-oldest son, played college basketball at the University of Central Florida from 2009 until 2012.
According to a recent story, former Rockets coach and recently crowned Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich met up with the elder Jordan in a group dinner setting after his 1998 retirement from the Bulls.
Per Tomjanovich (via The Athletic‘s Michael Lee), here’s what Jordan said:
Unprompted, Tomjanovich said, Jordan offered some praise for what the Rockets accomplished.
“He gave our team great respect,” Tomjanovich said. “He didn’t feel that they could contain Hakeem [Olajuwon]. They just didn’t have the personnel to do it. And he said he thought we were the team that gave them the most trouble.”
Olajuwon clearly earned Jordan’s respect, as evidenced by Jordan selecting the Houston legend for his all-time NBA team.
For his 18-year career, Olajuwon averaged 21.8 points (51.2% FG), 11.1 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game. A 12-time All-Star, “The Dream” was a two-time champion and NBA Finals MVP; a two-time Defensive Player of the Year; and the league’s 1993-94 regular season MVP, which concluded with Houston’s first-ever championship in a major sports league.
A recent ESPN list ranked Olajuwon as the NBA’s No. 12 player of all-time, though some former players immediately said that was too low.