Nearly three decades after his first NBA pre-season stint with the Houston Rockets, Sam Cassell is still blown away by Hakeem Olajuwon’s bizarre routine.
Sam Cassell entered the NBA in 1993 after being drafted by the Houston Rockets. At the time, Hakeem Olajuwon was already in his prime and had been dominating the entire league.
As a rookie, Cassell was called-up to play for the Rockets in most of the pre-season games.
The young Cassell was so hyped up heading into his maiden NBA experience only to get baffled by Olajuwon’s poor pre-season showing.
“In my rookie year, we go 0-7 in the preseason,” Cassell said on Point God with Baron Davis. “We lose by 40 to GP [Gary Payton] and Seattle [Supersonics]. I remember calling my boy and saying, man, Hakeem Olajuwon, sorry as s–t. He was 3-12 and only got 3 rebounds in 15 minutes. He got 3 rebounds, not knowing veterans didn’t take preseason serious[ly], they used the preseason to get in shape. [Because] Back then, the preseason was a full month.”
It didn’t take long for Cassell to finally realize that the Rockets big man was just kind of fooling around in pre-season.
According to the three-time NBA champ, “The Dream” went off right in the Rockets’ opening game of the regular season.
“Opening night comes, we play the Golden State Warriors; Hakeem Olajuwon is out there handling his business!,” he recalled. “I’m sitting back, saying, where did this come from? Why didn’t he do this in the pre-season? I mean he gave those boys the business. He comes out of the game, I say ‘way to work Dream.’ He says, ‘Son, preseason don’t count, the popcorn is popping now. Pre-season stat sheets?, they don’t send to New York, these stats sheets, they send to New York.’ He put on a show. He had like 37 and 15 in 3 quarters.”