Houston Rockets

This Date in NBA History (Oct. 28): Hakeem Olajuwon shows why he was taken No. 1 in his NBA debut

There's a reason that the 1984 NBA Draft class is considered to be the best by many accounts.

On Oct. 28, 1984 - just 24 hours after the debuts of Michael Jordan, John Stockton and Charles Barkley - Hakeem Olajuwon, the first overall pick in the iconic draft, made his NBA debut against the Dallas Mavericks.

Olajuwon showed just why he was selected with the top pick as he finished with a team-high 24 points (on 11-for-18 shooting) to go along with nine rebounds in just 28 minutes of action as the Rockets earned a 10-point win over the Mavs to open the season.

Hakeem's frontcourt mate, 7-foot-4 centre Ralph Sampson, finished with a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double while 1976 No. 1 overall pick John Lucas added 23 points and seven assists for Houston.

Other notable Rockets to take the floor in that game include Mitchell Wiggins, father of Golden State Warriors forward Andrew, former Cleveland Cavalier Craig Ehlo and current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Lionel Hollins.

In his rookie season, Olajuwon started in all 82 games, posting averages of 20.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in 35.5 minutes per game, earning an All-Star selection, All-Defensive Second Team Selection and All-Rookie First Team selection while he was runner-up for Rookie of the Year behind Jordan. The Rockets finished third in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record but lost in the opening round to the Utah Jazz in five games.

It was the beginning of a legendary career for Olajuwon, who earned 12 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA selections, Nine All-Defensive Team selections in addition to winning two titles, two Finals MVP awards, two Defensive Player of the Year awards as well as league MVP in 1994.

Olajuwon, Jordan and Giannis Antetokunmpo are the only three players in league history to win both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Olajuwon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

Also on Oct. 28…

  • DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward made their debuts in 2010.
  • The Rockets and Mavericks met in a preseason game in Mexico City, the first-ever NBA game played in Latin America. The league now hosts NBA Mexico Games, with the Mavericks facing the Pistons and the Spurs facing the Suns in Mexico City this past season. Mexico City will soon be home of an NBA G League franchise.
  • San Francisco Warriors centre Nate Thurmond recorded 28 points and 37 rebounds in a win over the Baltimore Bullets in 1964.
  • Philadelphia Warriors centre Wilt Chamberlain finished with 55 points and 24 rebounds in a loss to the Syracuse Nationals in 1961.
  • Boston Celtics legend Tom Heinsohn made his NBA debut in 1956.

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