Hakeem Olajuwon Says Dwight Howard is ‘Still Very Raw’

by August 15, 2013

The Houston Rockets have hired Hall of Famer center Hakeem Olajuwon to mentor Dwight Howard. The Dream says that Dwight, despite going into his 10th year in the League, still has a very long way to go. Per the Rockets’ team website: “This is simply the beginning of a long process that promises to play itself out on a regular basis over the days, weeks, months and years to come. Howard specifically asked Olajuwon and (Kevin) McHale to work with him this week before he departs for Asia on Thursday. Since Dream will soon become an official member of the Rockets organization once more, these workouts will occur every time Olajuwon returns to Houston (he says he’ll next be back in town to work with Howard and Houston’s other bigs during the preseason). And of course McHale will be around every day once training camp begins, giving him ample time to tutor his prized pupil on the finer points of the slippery eel and other low post gadgetry. ‘Having these guys in my backyard and have them pushing me to the limit is just going to make me better,’ said Howard after his 90-minute workout wrapped up. ‘It’s not about emulating Dream. That’s the thing. We get caught up in comparing players, trying to do what this guys does just because you work with him. The thing is, when you workout with a guy like Hakeem or Kevin McHale, you take away certain things. You don’t try to do everything they can do. I could workout with Michael Jordan, but I’m not going to be able to shoot the fadeaway like Michael Jordan. The biggest thing when we’re working out is I’m always watching his feet. Today we were working on spin moves and I was doing a spin move with my left foot in the back and I saw him doing it with his right. So once I caught that, I adjusted. It’s little things like that where you see something and you put your own mix to it – that’s what makes it great.We’ve been working out for years and I’ve never tried to be Hakeem Olajuwon. We made jokes about the Dream shake – he’d call mine the milk shake – but I don’t want to say I’m going to be like Hakeem Olajuwon. The moves we’re doing and how we’re doing them, it’s not about doing it just like Hakeem or doing them just like McHale. It’s about understanding why and how you do certain moves.’ […] ‘Standing there with Coach McHale, for me as a big guy, it was incredible to listen to what he was teaching and to see the look in his eyes, realizing his basketball IQ and understanding of the game,’ Olajuwon said. ‘I was just thinking, ‘Wow, how lucky (Howard) is to be with two Hall of Famers, adding true value to his development.’ As good as he is right now, he’s still very raw. But he has all the tools so I’m like a kid in a candy store. That’s why we give him the fundamentals of these moves. There’s a rhythm. And once he sees it, then it’s easier to emulate and then incorporate with power. He has the power. Now we’re adding finesse to the power. The best big men in the game – they’re game-changers. That’s what he is. And he’s in the right situation where the coach understands it, he demands it, and Dwight can give it.'”