Sunday , Sep , 07 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Best Hall of Fame center: Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon?

Yes, the set-up was ironic and perhaps bittersweet for the Jamican-born post who lost the 1984 NCAA Final Four and 1994 NBA Title to ‘The Dream’. However, the ceremony re-ignited a debate about whether Ewing or Olajuwon is the best center? After all, Ewing carried an undermanned Knick squad and the MSG faithful for several years. His leadership and heart must factor into any match-up against Olajuwon, right? …

Best Hall of Fame center: Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon?Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon spent years competing over NCAA and NBA championships. Yesterday, they were inducted into the James Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Together. 

Yes, the set-up was ironic and perhaps bittersweet for the Jamican-born post who lost the 1984 NCAA Final Four and 1993-94 NBA Title to ‘The Dream’. However, the ceremony re-ignited an age old debate if Ewing or Olajuwon is the better center?

After all, Ewing carried an undermanned Knick squad and the MSG faithful for several years. His leadership and heart must factor into any match-up against Olajuwon, right?

Possibly. However, this debate is for the HoopsVibe masses to decide. Read both arguments, watch both clips, and let us know if Ewing or Olajuwon is the premier five-man?

The Case For Ewing …

  • Let’s start with the numbers: Rookie of the Year (1986), All-NBA First Team (1990) All-NBA Second Team (1988, ’89, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’97), NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1988, ’89, ’92) 11-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996), 2-time Olympic gold medalist (1984, ’92) NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player (1984), and Naismith College Player of the Year in (1985).
  • Ewing’s most impressive accomplishment may be thriving in basketball mad New York. This is rare. Day-in, day-out and year-in, year-out, he played in the ultimate pressure cooker, where each shot and rebound is relived in print and with sports radio. 
  • Two subtle things stand out from Ewing’s career. First, MSG gave him an amazing ovation when he returned to New York after getting traded to Seattle. Second, when on the low-block, he had a knack for feeling the double team, spinning baseline away from the extra defender, and nailing his trademark jump shot.

(Ewing’s first game back at MSG after the trade to Seattle.)

The Case For Olajuwon …

  • There are some serious individual accolades: 2x NBA Finals MVP (1994, ’95), NBA MVP (1994), Defensive Player of Year (1993, ’94) All-NBA First Team (1987, ’88, ’89, ’93, ’94, ’97), All-NBA Second Team (’86, ’90, ’96), All-Defensive First Team (’87, ’88, ’90, ’93, ’94) 12x All-Star, Olympic gold medalist (1996), and named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).  
  • In 1993-94, he became the only NBA player to EVER win the regular season MVP, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Finals MVP, and, most importantly, an NBA Title. 
  • Olajuwon dominated Ewing during the 1993-94 Finals, posting averages of 26.9 points per game on 50.0% shooting compared to Ewing’s 18.9 points per game on 36.3% shooting. Of course, this helped Houston erase a 3-2 series deficit and capture the championship. 
  • The Dream had grace. His on-court moves, particularly a famous up-and-under fake, were executed with the athleticism and quickness of a smaller player. Off-court, he avoided trouble and controversy (even signing a personalized autograph for my brother when he visited Vancouver).

(Best of ‘The Dream’ with a little Jay-Z.)

Our Call: Olajuwon by a nose (for the record, David Robinson obviously factors in the larger  debate of the nineties best center). His teams twice beat Ewing’s squads on basketball’s biggest stage in the Final Four and NBA Finals. Individually, the Nigerian also outplayed his Hall-of-Fame peer, winning their one-on-one battles.

Who is the best Hall of Fame center: Ewing or Olajuwon? Get at us with thoughts in the comment box below and return to HoopeVibe The Blog for more NBA Tidbits. Photo courtesy of Beneath The Beat.