Olajuwon: Superteams a ‘dilemma’ for NBA
By Bill Ingram and Yannis Koutroupis, Hoopsworld.com
There are few basketball players who have had the kind of impact on the game that Hakeem Olajuwon had.
During his playing days, Olajuwon reinvented the center position with his agility, footwork and finesse. Sure, he could post up, but his ability to dance around opposing players and foil the most intricate defensive schemes helped him carve out a spot in the Hall Of Fame.
When Olajuwon was still wearing Houston’s #34, the NBA was filled with franchise players, and nearly every stop on an NBA road trip featured marquee names who were as associated with the teams as the teams’ own nicknames. The Utah Jazz had Karl Malone and John Stockton. The Boston Celtics had Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. The San Antonio Spurs had David Robinson. And of course, for the majority of his career, Hakeem defined the Houston Rockets.
Today’s NBA has just as many marquee names, but few seem to impact the game the way those previous legends did. Olajuwon points out that the current trend of having fewer superstars and seeing them team up makes it harder for teams to compete at a high level.
“There are superstars and then there are franchise players,” Olajuwon told Hoopsworld.com. “There are superstars in their own right, but a franchise player is a player who can carry his team to the next level. There are always very few of those in any era, true franchise players. Once you have that player, you can build your team around him. Today, the ones who are franchise players are teaming up together, which makes it more difficult for the teams without a superstar or a franchise player.
“I think in time, when you have guys coming from college who have the potential to be a superstar, they’re going to be drafted by a losing team that can then ultimately be a contender, and that’s what we need to see more of. We need to see college players who are superstars or can be franchise caliber players who can take those teams from being average teams to being a contender.”
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