Olajuwon The Teacher On Dwight Howard

VIDEO: NBA stars seek out Olajuwon to learn the secrets of post play

Many years before he became mentor to the stars, teaching the fine art of his post moves to the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwight Howard (among others), a young Hakeem Olajuwon was a Nigerian student who found answers on the basketball court. “The game was introduced at my school and I learned it from scratch,” Olajuwon said. “I learned about the rules and how to play basketball and I also learned about work ethic, teamwork and communication. Those are tools that are part of a successful life in or out of sports.”

The Hall of Famer was speaking Tuesday from Nigeria, where he was helping to launch a basketball initiative for youth. Even from half a world away, though, Olajuwon was thinking about the struggles of his current pupil, Howard, who he mentored in the offseason after the big man signed a four-year, $88-million free agent contract with the Rockets, Olajuwon’s former team.

“The truth is that I can’t wait to get back to Houston to do more work with Dwight,” said Olajuwon, who left Houston in early October to return to his home in Amman, Jordan and has been keeping track of his pupil on TV. “I wish he was doing a better job.

“Dwight has always been athletic and aggressive and he still is. But when I watch him, what I see are opportunities that he is missing. When he gets the ball, he seems to be taking his time to decide what move to make, where he should go.

“There should not be a delay for Dwight. He must be able to make a faster recognition of the situations and react immediately with a go-to move. You must move right away before the defense has a chance to set up. You must be the one making the first move so that you can force the defender to always be the one reacting.

“I thought we were doing a good job with this when we were working together over the summer and at the start of training camp. But what I see now is that when Dwight gets in competition, he has a tendency to go back to all of his old habits. He’s just doing all of the things that he did before. He needs a reminder.”

Olajuwon plans to return to Houston prior to the NBA All-Star break in February and will remain in Houston through the end of the season and the playoffs.

“Maybe if I am there with him all of the time we can reinforce new habits and make it all feel natural,” Olajuwon said.

Olajuwon, who was a .712 shooter on free throws through his 18-year NBA career, has cringed long distance while watching Howard make a career low .531 from the foul line this season.

“I think this is where a confident routines comes in,” Olajuwon said. “It’s not just putting in hours and hours of work. It’s getting a solid routine and staying with it. With Dwight right now, I think it’s more mental. Sometimes you just have to let it go. Don’t think. Don’t hesitate. Just trust your routine and let it go.

“I won’t say that you can’t ever win a championship as a big man if you don’t shoot free throws well, because Shaq did it four times. But it can be a deciding factor, so you want to fix it.”


Olajuwon, fellow countryman and former NBA player Obinna Ekezie and WNBA champion Swin Cash have joined with the NBA, WNBA, Africare and ExxonMobil to announce the launch of Power Forward, a youth engagement initiative that will use basketball to develop health, leadership and life skills.

The program is being introduced at 10 public and private high schools in Abuja, Nigeria, and will engage 300 students, evenly divided between boys and girls.

Olajuwon, Ekezie and Cash joined 100 youth participants on the court for a series of basketball drills. Basketball is Nigeria’s second-most popular sport with increased interest at the grass-roots level, following the national team’s first-ever qualification for the 2012 Olympics. More than 20 current and former players with Nigerian descent have played in the NBA, more than any other African country.

“When I was growing up, I knew nothing about the NBA,” Olajuwon said. “We couldn’t see games. They weren’t on TV. My goal in playing basketball was to get a scholarship to attend college in America and the rest of my professional career just happened.

“These kids today are from a different generation. They didn’t know me from personal experience. But they did their homework on the Internet. I was surprised to know how much they learned. They are full of energy and enthusiasm and the goal of the Power Forward program is take that energy and channel it into ways that can make productive lives. This is a way that politicians, corporations and educators can unite to get the most out of the next generation.”


  1. Steven Walker says:

    I lived in the Houston area, during his phi slamma jamma, early pro years, and what I, and others, have always noticed about Hakeem, during his playing days, was his amazing blend of athleticism, balance, control, dynamism and efficiency; he was powerful, yet as graceful an athlete, as I have ever witnessed. He was extremely light on his feet, and had the moves of a much smaller man; for his size, his quickness, explosion and timing, were unmatched; he had a longer torso, and shorter legs in comparison to his peers, of similar height, (and therefore, a lower center of gravity); all of which he used to maximum advantage; he had smallish, but soft hands, you rarely saw him fumbling, and never hot-dogging the ball. he wasn’t as big as other centers, but he played “taller” than most anyone, and got more out of his height, than practically anyone of his era. he was a good jumper, but , more often than not, he dominated his opponents, offensively, by consistently “out-flanking” them, with his spin moves — precipitated by a first step that no one ever caught up with, that left them consistently in his wake — off-balance, out of position and beyond his reach. in the post, he could feint and shoot over either shoulder, and finish in the lane, or toward the baseline, with equal facility; he was a matchup nightmare — too quick for the bigger guys, and too big for the smaller ones; his footwork was light-years ahead of any one else, then or now, and enabled him to put maximum distance between himself and a defender, in a shorter and more compact horizonal plane, than perhaps anyone in the game, I’ve seen, since the 60’s. on defense, he had great anticipation, long arms, amazing vision, and spot-on court sense. he never seemed to be out of position; what I admire most about him, is how he grew his game. we tend forget that he came in as a defensive stopper, somewhat limited on the offensive side of the ball, and not the skilled, finished product and force he became, later in his career. it was only later that he developed into the offensive juggernaut, we tend to focus on, now; as an offensive player, you always had to account for him, and he could get off a practically uncontested, on nearly anyone. one of the best straight up, one-on-one, team concept, and off-the-ball defenders in NBA history — he could guard most anyone, in the post, on the perimeter, and in space, equally well. He was drafted ahead of MJ(1 vs 3) and won rookie of the month three times (MJ won the other 3, as well as rookie of the year), and as great as he was — I still feel he never really got his due, even with the championships, mostly because he played in the era, and in the shadow of MJ.

  2. ry says:

    LMAO hes played for 8 years he will never get it its to late houston shafted there selves lol

  3. ricardo says:

    Dwight dose not need to score. Thats why we have Harden, Parsons, lin, and T Jones!. As long as Howard keeps up the defense with minimal offense, we will be champions! #RedNation

  4. AnnoYouLater says:

    dwight’s arms are too stiff to do Hakeem like moves…someone like Ibaka or Hibbert can be a good student for Hakeem…
    but Dwight?…with his stiffness he cant be too versatile…

  5. A.J. says:

    Hey, Blineubury, I could have done without the press release. Swin Cash. With emphasis on “Cash.”

  6. Coop says:

    Kevin Mchale post moves were of jump shots and fadeways and also things arouond the rim this could make him a better post player

  7. Najeero says:

    Under Kevin McHale and Hakeem’s tutelage, Dwight should become a betta scorer down low. I think he’s capable of gettin 20-25 pts. a game but he doesn’t want the ball enough. He plays around too much too. I always thought he was a carbon copy of Shaq with less fire in him. Its been like 8 years for him now, so we already know that he is as good as he is gonna get.

  8. lucky fri says:

    you cant teach touch, dwight wont ever get an offensive talent. he is scoring cause he is dominant, but he is just not like ewig, hakeem and so on. sorry that player isnt able to something. still he can learn from hakeem. maybe winning important games. (You cant fake chicken)

  9. bonjoyet says:

    dwight is overrated plain and simple, We have no big man like hakeem and tim duncan thats why we keep pushing for howard.. he is just not in the same sentence as the other big men i mentioned… so stop the whinning boys…

  10. JM says:

    Was Dwight your pupil, Olajuwon? For the sake of your reputation, do not tell anyone.

  11. Gillsy says:

    The funny thing is McHale taught KG to be one of the best big man shooters ever. But the main difference KG was young and didn’t have too many bad habits. And the biggest of them all if he wanted it. I think Howard will always needs someone like Harden to take the lime light cause he doesn’t have the drive to do much better than he is doing now. Look at Roy Hibbert a few years ago he seamed like he couldn’t shoot if he tried. Now he has become a constant scorer and a important cog in a team that’s getting better as a unit. That doesn’t just happen by luck.

  12. Gillsy says:

    I was watching Charles and Shaq talk the other day about his problems. They said the same thing he has no real go to move other than spin square to the basket or dunk if close. Everyone agrees that he grabs the ball than takes 5 minutes to think about his move than moves. They have all said The Dream, Shaq and Charles who play win very different ways he needs a few moves that he is confident in that he doesn’t need to think about and go for it. Cause he is never going to get the moves of The Dream. But I do agree he should be getting more help from McHale in practice. However, I like how The Dream said he will spend virtually from the all-star break until the rest of the year with him and not just a few days to try and help him through his problems. Cause if having two of the best inside big men helping him doesn’t help nothing will.

  13. J says:

    Olajuwon is the best post player ever, why is Dwight not playing better in the post? I think he is a power big not a finesse big, that’s why.

  14. G says:

    To me this shows that Howard just is not as smart/intelligent. That also explains his ideas about retiring his shirt in Orlando……

  15. brainman says:

    Rockets need to trade Dwight before he loses market value. Perfect trade would be him for Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert. And they are championshio team with those changes.

  16. Oh Dwight…. Houston you have a problem…!

  17. Frivera says:

    Well, here we are talking about a young man, tha decides not to work with kobe, that does not takes seriusly the game, thats does not going to be a leader in houston, and now that does not remember what post move is going to use…mmm…somebody needs to tell him that he can practice another sport…the truth is that, all stars dont think the move, they feel, they make…they moves are 3 plays ahead, but they are not thinking…now im going left, no no, right…should i stop here? coach!! coach!!! come on howard…come on!!!! by a ps4 an go home to play alone…men!!

  18. Zacula says:

    The dream is a legend but unfortunately no one can teach Howard anything…. horse muscles with a mosquito brain… oh wait mosquitos actually have several moves.

  19. Max says:

    Everything the former Rocket said about Howard is true!!!
    Now Shaq helped to win Championships, because his size and weight was so powerful and the spur’s Coach HAD NOT made the league aware of how bad Shaq was at shooting FRE THROWS. Now that is OUT and Howard is so bad and he does not have the weight and determination that Shaq had. Not a good listener to change. Doubt anyone can Improve Howard. One can lead a horse to the Water but cannot make that Horse drink!

  20. Dan says:

    Dwight has bad habits that he won’t be able to correct, no matter what he is taught. Many of the post moves from some of your great players have are “natural” and not taught. Dwight is in another planet and he just wants to have fun and smile and do his thing. That has always been his problem, not taking the game seriously. Lebron used to do the same thing until he realized he was no longer a child. Dwight still thinks and plays like one. Good luck in Houston…….they will contend but will not win anything…with Dwight.

    • PetrGSW says:

      I mostly agree with what you’re saying, but I dont agree that its all that bad to play for fun. Like I thing Shaq had lots of fun while playing and some of it was pretty goofy, but he knew when to get serious, and not just for the media, but in game! He did all he could to be as dominant as he could be with what he was given!
      The difference is that Dwight really is like a little kid, he just wants everyone to thing he’s awesome, but he cant man up to the challenges that being a great player brings.
      He will never be more than s physicaly gifted player…

  21. ronhawkster says:

    This is key “But what I see now is that when Dwight gets in competition, he has a tendency to go back to all of his old habits. He’s just doing all of the things that he did before. He needs a reminder.”

    That’s because the longer play the more you get set in your ways and the harder it is to break those old habits. The old habits were there first, deep in your psyche, and that becomes second nature. It’s every difficult for people to try to de-program old habits and hardwire new ones. It’s very difficult for dedicated players, much less for goofy man-boys like Dwight. I doubt he’ll ever break out of those habits because he has never had the drive and dedication of top tier superstars like Bird, Magic, Kareem, Hakeem, MJ, Kobe and Lebron. He’s in there for the fun first. If glory comes, great, he’s not going to reject it. He’ll even say all the right things in interviews because he has learned that art. But his heart is elsewhere. He got set in his ways because he has so much talent in other areas that he never addressed them until when it was too late to change those habits, and now he’s in a bad spot, which means the pressure is working against him, not for him. I doubt if DH will ever play at the level of greatness that people imagine for him.

  22. CornHole says:

    keep it up dwight!


    2 fired coaches and three teams later……..who to blame now? Kobe made his free throws on a torn Achilles….what’s dwight’s excuse?

    • L.B.J.F. says:

      Dwight’s excuse is the media. He said something about how the media has pounded in him that he cannot hit free throws so, now he thinks about it too much in game. But he says it’s no problem during practice, to stay focused. Isn’t that what basketball is all about?…performing under stress while millions are watching you. Basketball is 50% skill and 50% mental toughness.

    • imurk713 says:

      Torn Achilles has nothing to do with shooting a free throw. If he had broken his wrist and made his free throws I’d be impressed.

    • imurk713 says:

      A torn Achilles has nothing to do with shooting free throws. If Kobe had broken his wrist and then made his free throws I’d be impressed.

  24. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    lol, he needs a reminder

  25. Tony C says:

    In order to see what dwight howard is doing wrong in the post, I went back to look at some of his post moves when he was in Orlando. I thought I saw one post move that he used. And then I said let me check out Olajuwon and Mchale’s video post moves in the past. Wow, Olajuwon and Mchale’s post moves were so beautiful to watch. Dwight Howard has nothing at all – I mean nothing. He needs to learn or use the post moves taught by Olajuwon or just give up his starting spot. He is a joke and it was quite embarrasing to see him play the other night. Qite pathetic. When you have two great hall of famers with some of the best post moves in NBA history teaching you and you don’t listen or use what they taught you – something is wrong here.

  26. James says:

    Dream Pick Up Team
    PG: LeBron James
    SG: Kobe Bryant
    SF: Michael Jordan
    PF: Hakeem Olajuwon
    C: Shaquille O’Neal

    • J says:

      I would switch Lebron with Iverson.

    • artifex says:

      I respect that Kobe is among the best ever, but he’s “just” Jordan-like, doesn’t bring anything else to the team.
      So, with MJ already in, Kobe makes no sense, sorry.
      Thus, LeBron at his usual SF and put in a “real” PG (though LBJ is quite good at that)
      My favs’d be Sorckton, Kidd, Nash and Iverson.

      However, “pick up” means, players you’d choose to play with
      (and as Jordan chose, it’s not only about how good the player is, but how much you’d like to play with him).
      “Pick up” is not to win a league or tournament, but to have a good and fun game.

      So, mine would be:
      PG Stockton
      SG me
      SF Jordan
      PF Nowitzki
      CE The Admiral

      Who doen’t wnat to play with the GOAT, the others are known to be great at bball and have a very positive personality.
      So, that’d be FUN (and despite me we could still win…)

      • Yao Ming says:

        PG – Derek Fisher aka the Fish aka I GET RINGS
        SG – Brian Scalabrine aka the White Mamba aka the Veal
        SF – Eduardo Najera aka the Nightstick
        PF – Shawn Bradley aka the Stormin’ Mormon aka Posters
        C – Greg Oden aka Lebron’s dad

  27. leroy says:

    dwight howard upper body is too stiff when he post up, he need to learn to post up with the side of his body rather than using his shoulder to bulldoze defenders he gets called for at least 3 offensive fouls per game for trucking defenders.

  28. There is a psychological aspect that comes with development as well as a sociological. My background is in Kinesiology and sport psychology, as well as coaching for 10+yrs and doing individual athletic development with athletes at the collegiate and professional levels).

    Psychologically, a player must perceive his environment as safe in order to play without reservation. Social and media pressure has taken a toll on Dwight obviously and it will take some time for the locker room, team, coach and organization to provide the safe environment he needs to flourish (unlike Los Angeles). His building confidence and the feeling of acceptance in doing what he has the greatest confidence in doing os a part of this process. His play now should not be indicative of what or where his play level will be come playoffs. Side note: The Omer Asik situation dragging out only hinders this process, creating an even more uneasy environment for him and how he may be believing he is being perceived by those he is needing to gain acceptance from.

    During development the skill must be practiced in as close to performance context as possible. For example, shooting free-throws in an empty gym, to with teammates on the lane lines, to crowd noise miked in, to literal fans behind the basket. Each increases the effectiveness of the acquisition of the skill for the performance environment.

    Hope this helps if actually read, GO ROCKETS!

  29. leroy says:

    tim duncan is a better post move coach than hakeem, hakeem post moves are more about show boating. anyways is not difficult to learn post moves use head fakes and have counter move for your post moves and your good.

    • Craig says:

      why mention Tim Duncan, when he’s got Kevin McHale at practice *every single day*. that should be more than sufficient…

    • Jibba says:

      @leroy “hakeem post moves are more about show boating”…
      I think you just posted the dumbest comment I have ever read.
      Hakeem is a legend for his skills and technique, not for showboating.

      • JStew says:

        So your telling me that a 9 year plus vet needs a babysitter to make sure he does the correct moves, get the ____ outta here. Dwight has forgotten what got him to the NBA finals in Orlando , which was being the work horse. He had shooters galore and basically dominated the inside by blocking shots and rebounding. Dwight Howard is a MUCH BETTER BEN WALLACE, and should focus more on being a Dennis Rodman type, and strive for record breaking rebounds, and block shots. He is not a post player, and never will be. If you need another grown man to be at every game to remind you how to do a move and what move not to do every game for a full season then i am just going to call this a lost cause. Check it out! Ben Wallace did the same thing, after going to the NBA FINALS he came back the next season demanding the ball , as if he was all of a sudden the second coming of Shaq , Duncun, The Dream and so on and so forth! He is who he is a athletic big man who should be using that to has advantage and doing what works , instead of trying to re-invent himself. Over the last few years , this dude just comes off as a big baby , i don’t know him so i could be wrong, but that’s what it looks like !

    • Aces says:

      Tim Duncan is NOT a better post player than Hakeem but I agree with him being a better post coach for Dwight than Hakeem is. Hakeem’s post moves were God givin and you will not find many bigs that can move like that which is why guys like LeBron and kobe benefit more than Dwight.

    • Sundoulos says:

      I wouldn’t say that Tim Duncan is a better post move coach than Hakeem Olajuwon, I think that Timmy looks more fundamentally sound because he doesn’t do his moves with a lot of flash. Truthfully speaking, Olajuwon is fundamentally sound, it’s just that his perspective has soccer in mind (where the foot movement either seems unorthodoxed or fancy). Neither perspective is wrong, but I think that Olajuwon’s approach would actually give Howard an advantage (if he can become a creature of good habit)…

    • J Ry says:

      You are an example of the ignorance NBA fans of today have and show daily on the internet.
      I don’t think i’ve ever heard anyone refer to any part of Hakeem Olajuwon’s game as show boating before.
      Hakeem’s moves had finesse, yes. Show boating?! Blasphemy.
      And why mention Tim Duncan at all here? The story is about Dwight’s game and needing more work. Is Duncan, a current player of the Spurs, meant to head to a rival team in Houston and coach him? Then head back to San Antonio and play for the Spurs again and eventually play against Dwight? Great idea. I’m sure management from both the Spurs and Rockets will love that idea.

      Or maybe the real issue that you are a Spurs fan and dislike The Dream for humiliating The Admiral in the ’95 Playoffs?

      Understand this. Hakeem’s so called “show boating” moves worked very VERY effectively. Do a YouTube search on Hakeem and interviews of players who played with/against Hakeem to get some real education about how effective the really were.

      Educate yourself before commenting.

  30. Aleksndar says:

    Dwight need to stop pumping Iron and just do Posting Up work for hours ! Drill just 3 moves for hundreds of times, and live out his free time on the Dreams ranch!