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Moves moves moves for days
October 7, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

If you are an NBA basketball player and you do not play for a certain team in Florida, this is probably the most terrifying thing you will see this pre-season: Hakeem Olajuwon schooling Dwight Howard.

Can't get enough of the Dream? Check out this Free Darko series "inspired, and curated, by Brian Phillips of Run of Play: DREAM WEEK features some of your fastest and most favorite writers trying to crack the mystery of Hakeem Olajuwon and his Rockets."
posted by AceRock (54 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love watching professional athletes practice. Howard isn't known for having a soft touch around the basket -- more of a power through and dunk it kind of guy. Seeing how easily he hits jump hooks and fadeaway jumpers in practice just puts into perspective how talented these guys really are.

And how big they are. Goddammit is Dwight Howard huge.
posted by auto-correct at 11:22 AM on October 7, 2010


I love how, without pressure, they make every shot.
posted by Hicksu at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


There was a video out there of Kobe Bryant getting some pointers from Hakeem about his post game a year or so back, but YouTube seems to have removed it for copyright reasons.
posted by callmejay at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2010


Also, Hakeem Olajuwon is 47 years old and 7 feet tall. And he still moves with a smoothness and athleticism that's pretty surreal. He looks like he could totally still bang with Dwight in the post. NBA players really are some of the most impressive athletes out there.
posted by auto-correct at 11:28 AM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, Dwight Howard makes me feel like a hobbit. It's ridiculous how he's so huge and so athletic at the same time.
posted by callmejay at 11:28 AM on October 7, 2010


Shiny Biceps!
posted by helmutdog at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2010


Dwight Howard is an incredibly gifted athlete. Then again, so is Kwame Brown. Some things you can't teach, and some players can't be coached. I'll be mildly surprised if Howard's game is all that much different this season.

Kobe, on the other hand, became a beast in the post after a couple of hours with Olajuwon. But that guy is a basketball sponge.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 11:30 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, the Dream. For my money, one of the greatest low-post players of all time, if not THE greatest. Simply unstoppable on the baseline. At his best, you just had to hope he missed the turnaround.

And such a quiet man usually. It's great to hear him talk about basketball.

Dwight Howard is great, but he's got a looong way to go to catch up to Hakeem on the offensive side. (It's funny to hear Howard talk about matching up against "bigger guys.")
posted by mrgrimm at 11:36 AM on October 7, 2010


Kwame Brown is very athletic for his size, but he's not in the same ballpark as Howard. /Wizards fan.

Also, you can't compare even other all-stars to Kobe. Whole 'nother level, as they say.
posted by callmejay at 11:36 AM on October 7, 2010


I agree with your general principle, though. Kwame Brown is athletic enough to be a very good NBA player, if not a great one. His problems are 100% mental. Kobe defines the high end of the "has what it takes mentally" spectrum and Kwame is close to the other end. Howard is probably somewhere in the middle.
posted by callmejay at 11:38 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll be mildly surprised if Howard's game is all that much different this season

Obviously you can't compare Dwight to Kobe, but I don't know if I agree with you. Howard's shown a willingness to improve the last few years, and his offensive game is slowly getting more polished (in my opinion). Add the extra motivation of what's going on with the Heat this year, plus learning from Hakeem, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Dwight tears through the league this season like a young Shaq.
posted by auto-correct at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be at all surprised if Dwight tears through the league this season like a young Shaq.

Howard reminds me more of a young David Robinson. Ridiculous athlete. Strong, fast, jumped out of the building, squeaky clean image. Great player. Great career. Pretty much killed everyone he played against... except Hakeem. Hakeem destroyed him. To quote from one of the Dream Week pieces:
Robinson always appeared to be the perfect specimen, the test-tube All-Star, programmed for greatness. But in the heat of the moment, he had no answers to combat the relentlessness, improvisation and immediacy of Hakeem's offensive attack. Call it instinct vs. education, nature vs. nurture, art vs. math, whatever -- while Robinson's greatness felt bound by a very precise machine logic, Hakeem could color outside the lines. That made the difference. Rockets in six.
Physically, Dwight is David Robinson 2.0. If you created a center in a video game, you'd probably just create Dwight Howard or David Robinson. But in real life, you'd have him coached up by Hakeem Olajuwan.
posted by AceRock at 11:51 AM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


That video gave me chills. Awesome find.
posted by saladin at 11:52 AM on October 7, 2010


Howard is probably somewhere in the middle.

I think that the fact that Howard has recognized that he can improve, recognized some fairly substantial weaknesses in his game, and gone out and found perhaps the best teacher in the world to help him strengthen those weaknesses puts him much further along the "student of the game" spectrum. Look at the guy - he is enormous, he has superhuman strength, he's handsome, he makes a zillion dollars a year—but he is humble enough to go to this older man and ask him for help. The respect and humility he shows towards Olajuwon augur well for his ability to integrate Hakeem's teachings into his game.
posted by Mister_A at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2010


4:20 ... fuck, he's teaching him the Dream Shake.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:02 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Howard's shown a willingness to improve the last few years, and his offensive game is slowly getting more polished (in my opinion).

I won't disagree with you there, but for me the key word is "slowly." It would take a significant step up for him to tear through the league like Shaq did, and his improvement thus far has been incremental. Would be a damn sight to see, though.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2010


What's really interesting is how much of Olajuwon's game is horizontal. Played with the hips and elbows. John Wooden would've killed to have him at UCLA.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:05 PM on October 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hakeem somehow always ends up in better positions or spots than Dwight, even when they do the same moves. Look at the series starting at 5:20 in the video. Same move. Hakeem ends up with an easy bank shot. Dwight ends up shooting fadeaways straight at the rim every time.
posted by AceRock at 12:08 PM on October 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Not just that but look where Hakeem has the ball out of every move - always exactly where it should be - up high ready to shoot, whereas Howard is holding it low so every shot requires two movements.

That's takes years of reps to fix (as does the spacing AceRock mentioned) - that's just pure repetition and why you can't change your game in a summer.
posted by JPD at 12:14 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Check out this Free Darko series "inspired, and curated, by Brian Phillips of Run of Play: DREAM WEEK features some of your fastest and most favorite writers trying to crack the mystery of Hakeem Olajuwon and his Rockets."

Most excellent. Today's analysis of the power trio of Olajuwon, Thorpe, and Horry in NBA Jam TE is spot on and brings back waay too many memories for comfort. (The Rockets were fucking unstoppable in that game! ... but if anyone could do it, it was those pesky Spurs.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:17 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I assume you mean terrifying for Miami. As a Heat I say "meh."

Sure Howard will be the best big man on the court when we play them, but Bosh is still an all-star. Furthermore while they have one of the five best players in the game, we've got two.
posted by oddman at 12:32 PM on October 7, 2010


[Kwame's] problems are 100% mental.

Not 100%. Kwame has unusually small hands for a man his size. He is a turn over machine because of that. Defensively, he's a significant asset, to the point that Phil Jackson used him consistently in crunch time for defense while he was on the Lakers.

It's true that Jordan crippled him mentally, but he does have other reasons for being such a bust.

Also, I object to the comparisons between David Robinson and Dwight Howard. David Robinson dominated the second he entered the league, averaging 24 points, 12 boards, and almost 4 blocks a game. Dwight, by contrast, took four years to break the 20 ppg mark and has never averaged more than 3 blocks a game in a season, against light competition (Robinson had to fend off Hakeem, Mark Eaton, Tom Chambers, and various other strong defenders in the Western Conference).

Howard is physically imposing, but he plays in an era of weak competition (Yao? David Lee? Brook Lopez? Please. His biggest problem is Kendrick Perkins, who has only one skill: Guarding Dwight Howard). He's a defensive beast but no where near the complete player that Robinson, Olajuwon, or Shaq were when they entered the league. Never going to college will do that to you, I suppose (unless you're Lebron).
posted by shen1138 at 1:02 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. I have such affection and nostalgia for Olajuwon and his fellow Phi Slamma Jamma teammates. I was playing basketball in about sixth and seventh grade and our team adopted the Houston Cougars as our alter egos. I was Olajuwon because I was the center (5'6"!) my buddies were Michael Young, Clyde Drexler, and Reid Gettys. I cried when they lost to N.C. State and then again to Georgetown...obviously there was some vindication when the Rocket beat Ewings Knicks for an NBA title...but this is a great link, glad to see the Dream still getting it done on the court.
posted by vito90 at 1:02 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


god i love this thread and basketball

this is going to be an incredible season
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:47 PM on October 7, 2010


If Howard adds a reasonable version of the Dream Shake to his repertoire this season, watch out league.
posted by e1c at 2:19 PM on October 7, 2010


After the recent Bear's debacle, I texted a friend that, oh well, the NBA starts soon. What did I get for that? Boozer's broken hand (Bulls fan), and Jonas Jerebko tearing his achilles six minutes into the preseason (Pistons fan). I get to look forward to the Pistons starting Charlie Villanueva. It's okay though, football season starts in 11 months.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2010


Dude the Bears lost one game and you're giving up on them already?

shen, yeah I'm not saying Dwight is at the Admiral's level just yet. But in terms of physical prowess they are pretty similar. And OK, Robinson had to battle Hakeem and Ewing, but (when healthy) Yao Ming is no joke. He would have given Robinson problems as well.

The kid is 24 years old! David Robinson entered the league at 24, already a grown ass man, and he was extremely productive right away. Dwight is getting there. He's not there yet, but at 24, you're still all potential.

It's interesting to look at all these guys compared at age 24: Shaq, Dwight, Hakeem, Robinson.

Hakeem looks like the worst of the lot, but you could make a good argument that he ended up being the best of the three older guys. We don't know what Dwight's ceiling is yet.
posted by AceRock at 3:44 PM on October 7, 2010


Never going to college will do that to you, I suppose (unless you're Lebron).

Or Kobe, of course. Or Kevin Garnett. Or Brandon Jennings.

College definitely makes some players better.

Some players are definitely ready to compete in the NBA without college.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:56 PM on October 7, 2010


> Hakeem Olajuwon schooling Dwight Howard
who are these people? Why should I watch them? So I watched your slyt - still none the wiser. Is there any context at all? Am I expecting too much from mefi?
I like watching professional athletes, too. Did you see the gymnastics at the commonwealth games today?
posted by mjg123 at 4:12 PM on October 7, 2010


The three wins were the fluke. They shelled out cash on a DE, a running back, and a tight end the year after leading the league in sacks allowed. New OL? Who needs that? The OL is a joke, and the rest of the league knows it. Of course, when the QB doesn't understand that, rather than throwing the ball away, stepping out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage is a sack, what's the point, really. The defense is fantastic, the offense pathetic. What's changed in 10 years?

As for basketball, Noah. Howard is a dominant center. Maybe someday he'll actually start using this stuff during the season. On the other hand, I groaned outloud when the Bulls drafter Joakim Noah. The thing is, he's improved each and every year, and is clearly the emotional leader of the team. I can see how easy it would be to hate him if I was a fan of a different team, but good lord, I think, if given the chance to grab any center, I'd probably stick with Noah.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:19 PM on October 7, 2010


mjg123, how would you feel if we hopped into your post about the commonwealth games expressing our ignorance and demanding that we be enlightened? The tags say hakeem, basketball, and NBA. Why click on it if you're not interested, or willing to become interested?

(though a freedarko tag wouldn't be out of place)
posted by Ghidorah at 4:21 PM on October 7, 2010


If I were making a post about the Commonwealth Games; I would make some effort to make it interesting to a variety of people, I would try to include some of the background of the concepts and people involved. I would try to imagine how the post read to someone who had never even heard of the Commonwealth Games.

I was interested in this, and I was willing to become more interested - but this post didn't give me anything to go on, and now I'm just randomly googling the people from the video in hope of enlightenment.

If the tags said: requiresPreviousKnowledgeOfNbaAndItsSuperstars (is that who these people are?) I guess that would be ok, if obnoxious.

If this argument is played out then I guess I'll just flag it and move on. But, I used to like metafilter because, even if a post wasn't about something I was already interested in, there would be enough content to interest me and lead me further...
posted by mjg123 at 4:35 PM on October 7, 2010


I see your point, but respectfully, this post wasn't for you. What is happening in the video is way too subtle for a non-basketball fan to get. Some of it you'd have to have played basketball at a fairly high level to appreciate. So I didn't post this expecting it to have universal appeal, because it doesn't. And again respectfully, gymnastics at the Commonwealth Games is not NBA basketball, which is growing in popularity so fast in Asia that it will probably overtake football as the most popular sport in the world in a few years.

And I mean... the wikipedia entries for these guys are pretty extensive. And there is no shortage of YouTube highlight videos for either of them.
posted by AceRock at 4:47 PM on October 7, 2010


Ghidorah, I'm a Bulls fan and I hated that they draft Noah (mostly because I hate Florida basketball). But I love that he plays for my team. I really hope that they don't trade him for Carmelo. And yeah, bummer that Boozer's hurt, but he's not out that long. I still think the Bulls can win 60 games.
posted by AceRock at 4:51 PM on October 7, 2010


I see you read my comment, but respectfully, it wasn't for you. What was happening in my comment was way too subtle for you to get. Some of it you'd have to have read other people's high-level posts to appreciate. So I didn't comment expecting it to have universal appeal, because it doesn't.
posted by mjg123 at 4:53 PM on October 7, 2010


[Couple comments removed. Cut it out.]
posted by cortex at 5:27 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


AceRock, there's no need to worry. They just signed him to a 5-year, $60 million dollar deal. Because of some arcane part of the salary cap having to do with players on their rookie contracts signing extensions, he's essentially untradeable until his extension kicks in (he'd have a cap figure that involved both his current salary and his projected salary mixed together). For once, the Bulls seem to be doing the right thing, and as long as Rose gets whatever he wants for his extension, I'll be a happy camper.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:40 PM on October 7, 2010


Great post, Acerock.
posted by Mister_A at 5:44 PM on October 7, 2010


There is one main difference between Dwight Howard and Hakeem (or Kobe for that matter): Howard wants to be a star and enjoy the perks fame and fortune have brought him; Kobe and Hakeem want to dominate the competition and are interested in little else. This lack of innate competitiveness (which David Robinson) also possessed is what will keep Dwight Howard a great player rather than a transcendent one.
posted by reenum at 5:57 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dwight Howard looks like I would imagine Spider-Man looks like without his suit if Spider-Man were black. Dude looks like an action figure.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:07 PM on October 7, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: "What's really interesting is how much of Olajuwon's game is horizontal."

That's because the vertical is well taken care of.
posted by bwg at 6:13 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


8th grade, 6'2.5" son, already a pretty good center + this video = 10 years from now I'll be driving a Cadillac. Plus he gets to go to Georgetown.
posted by timsteil at 7:16 PM on October 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Beautiful video, AceRock. I loved the dynamic between the two superstars--for Howard, who is almost supernaturally gifted, to continue to study with the "old master" speaks volumes about Dwight's commitment to excellence. Florida will be the happenin' place for NBA fans this year, regardless of who you're rroting for.

As a Gator fan, I'm sorry to hear you hate Florida basketball, but I agree completely with your view of Joakim Noah: his natural gifts are nothing like those of Dwight Howard, but he has always played with a drive that is impossible to teach. i'm glad to hear that the Bulls are hanging on to him.
posted by rdone at 7:24 PM on October 7, 2010


I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video. Thanks for sharing. They make it look so easy, and yet I know it's NOT!
posted by Fizz at 7:32 PM on October 7, 2010


As soon as there's a FreeDarko book about this, I am totally going to be able to make a worthwhile comment. They made basketball ideas so accessible to me, but the problem is that now I yearn to understand, whereas before I just ignored it all.
posted by redsparkler at 7:54 PM on October 7, 2010


I love watching how smooth all of Hakeem's moves still are. I cringe at how many extra steps some of them involve but are still NBA legal. Step as you gather -> 2 step spin -> pro hop. Or pro hop gather -> pivot -> switch pivot foot for the layout. Ouch.

And timsteil: I was 6'2.5" in 8th grade. Now I'm 6'3" in my 30's!
posted by thecjm at 9:25 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or Kobe, of course. Or Kevin Garnett. Or Brandon Jennings .

My comment was more precise than that. I was clear that I was referring to the ability to dominate upon entering the league. Kobe, Garnett, and Jennings were / are mediocre players upon entry to the league (amusingly, Jennings has had the best start, and he had a year of pro ball in Italy). It took them at least 3 years to become good, and even longer to dominate. Meanwhile, Robinson, Hakeem, and Shaq made a huge impact immediately.

I personally support allowing high schoolers to directly enter the league, because as you point out the league is dominated by such players. If you look at the population of NBA players that came from high school, they not only have a very high success rate relative to college and international players, but they also turn into superstars at a higher percentage. But excluding Lebron, none of them dominated the league the moment they stepped onto an NBA court like the three we were discussing.
posted by shen1138 at 9:36 PM on October 7, 2010


shen, there's a bit of a selection bias there. Only players with exceptional potential to become superstars have been/would be drafted straight out of high school.

I think David Stern's explanation is legit: “This is not about the N.C.A.A., this is not an enforcement of some social program. This is a business decision by the N.B.A., which is: We like to see our players in competition after high school.”

The NBDL is becoming a legitimate alternative to playing NCAA ball. Which I think is a good thing. I would love to see a legit minor league professional football league (as an alternative to playing college football) -- it would be better for the athletes.
posted by AceRock at 8:00 AM on October 8, 2010


This is a little late, but an explanation for the uninitiated.

Hakeem Olajuwon is one of the best centers in NBA history. Centers are routinely 7'0 tall, which means that their best skill is often being tall, grabbing rebounds, and occasionally scoring from 5 feet away because they are taller than everyone else. However, Hakeem had the agility, balance, and quickness of a man much smaller, all within a 7', 250lb frame. He used an incredible array of quick moves to score easy points, which made him all but unstoppable when he was on.

Watch this video to get an idea of his dominance; look how he fakes, twists, and turns his way to create wide-open shots. He covers so much ground using so few steps. This is against one of the NBA's all-time best centers too, so the competition was no slouch.

Dwight Howard, on the other hand, is the center for the Orlando Magic. He's a freak of nature in that he's 6'11, but has the body and athleticism of a superhero; witness his Superman dunk or anything else he's done in the dunk contest.

This natural power and leaping ability mean that he's been able to overpower opponents on every stage besides the NBA. The only critique of his game has been that his offense is unpolished and clumsy, because unless he can muscle his way to a dunk, he isn't smooth enough to work for an open shot.

So, if Dwight Howard can learn the intricate moves of Hakeem while retaining his explosive power, man. Look out.

(Judging by the video, he isn't yet ready. His shots always seem to come a foot further out than Hakeem's, and he doesn't spin with the same authority as Olajuwon. It's like his balance is a hair short.)
posted by Turkey Glue at 10:29 AM on October 8, 2010


Nice to see Hakeem passing on the knowledge. I agree with most of the comments on here, but particularly Turkey Glue. Dwight Howards has the strength, but if he ever gets the finesse part down (because you can't overpower everyone), he will truly be a force to be reckoned with. I think it would also help if would just be mean and nasty on the court, but honestly, I think it's just so far out of character for him. But hey, stranger things have happened, so you never know.
posted by KillaSeal at 11:23 AM on October 8, 2010


Did I hear him say he's an "undersized center"? Dude is 6'11, 265 lbs according to Wikipedia. As somebody who doesn't follow basketball at all, really, I find it astounding that he would be considered an undersized ANYTHING.
posted by antifuse at 6:38 AM on October 11, 2010


Dude is 6'11, 265 lbs according to Wikipedia. As somebody who doesn't follow basketball at all, really, I find it astounding that he would be considered an undersized ANYTHING.

He's not an undersized center. I'd say he's right about average. Most centers are (or list at) 6'10" to 7'. Ben Wallace is an undersized center. Dwight Howard is not.

So, if Dwight Howard can learn the intricate moves of Hakeem while retaining his explosive power, man. Look out.

He still needs to be able to reliably hit an 8-foot turnaround, which he has not yet demonstrated.

I'm not too worried about Howard, really. As a Pistons (and Warriors, jeez) fan, I have plenty of other worries.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2010


He's not an undersized center. I'd say he's right about average. Most centers are (or list at) 6'10" to 7'. Ben Wallace is an undersized center. Dwight Howard is not.

Hence my confusion. He clearly does say it in the video (I went back to double check).

Interesting stuff, but not interesting enough to make me want to watch the NBA. Oh Raptors, why must you let me down so continuously?
posted by antifuse at 6:00 AM on October 14, 2010


Interesting stuff, but not interesting enough to make me want to watch the NBA.

Probably true. I used to be a huge fan when I was younger, but now I think it would be just as satisfying to support the local high school team.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on October 14, 2010


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