Hakeem Olajuwon has a book out with - let's see, how to put this nicely? - "interesting" insights into some of his encounters with the Utah Jazz over the years.
The book, titled "Living the Dream" and co-authored with Peter Knobler, covers Olajuwon's life from growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, to the capturing of back-to-back NBA titles.Written in first-person viewpoint and at elementary school level, it is, for the most part, only of interest to his most ardent fans.
But there are a few parts of interest to Jazz fans. For instance, Olajuwon's description of his run-in with Jazz center Billy "Whopper" Paultz during the 1985 playoffs, after Olajuwon's rookie season. Olajuwon describes how, in the fifth game of that series, Paultz was assigned to defend him.
"He wasn't part of their offense, all he was out there to do was get in my way," Olajuwon wrote. "And he did. It was very irritating. He shadowed me, hung real close, and wouldn't give me any room to move. When I tried to get some space he would flop, fall back like I'd hit him with a brick, and the referee would call a foul on me.
"I don't like flopping; it is not real basketball," he continued. "For some reason, that night the referees were letting him get away with it. He would flop, I'd get a foul. Flop, foul. They called me where he hit the ground and I hadn't even touched him. He was a pest. I couldn't even shrug him off because once I moved so much as an elbow Paultz would go crashing to the floor and the referee would whistle me again.
"I said, 'Well, if you're going to flop I might as well hit you for real.' Ralph Sampson got a rebound and as soon as Paultz came over to cover me and flop, I hit him. I gave him a real good shot."
The referees apparently were so intent on watching Paultz flop that they didn't see Olajuwon's punch, but the TV cameras did, and the Houston rookie was fined. The Jazz's indignation over that punch is generally credited with spurring them to victory, 104-97. Olajuwon also fails to mention that despite Paultz's smothering defense, he managed to score 32 points.
Olajuwon also wrote about Game 5 of last year's playoffs. He said that early in the game, he was lining up for a free throw and saw Karl Malone looking at him. "I knew what he was looking for, I got the message in his eyes . . . he was smiling, searching my face, as if to ask, Are you concerned that this will be your last game? You will lose your title, you will no longer be champion."
Later in the game, he wrote, a Rocket was at the line again and Olajuwon looked over at the Mailman. "This time he was sweating. I knew he was worried. He had played a great game but he didn't look at me."
(Don't you wonder how he would have described that incident if the Rockets had lost?)
WHO'S HOT: In his last 11 games, Jeff Hornacek has shot 62.5 percent from the field, 56.3 percent from the three-point line. Malone has shot 58.7 percent in his last six games. In five games, John Stockton has made 27 of 49 shots (55.1 percent). Since returning from a disastrous (for him) road trip, Chris Morris has made 10 of 19 shots (52.6 percent).
WHO'S NOT: Over his last five games, David Benoit has made 18 of 46 shots (39.1 percent); over his last 17, he's hit 15 of 53 three-pointers (28.3). In the last five games, Antoine Carr has averaged 4.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and shot 23.5 percent.
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STAT STUFF: Howard Eisley continues to play steadily. Over his last 10 games he's shot 47 percent and handed out 27 assists, compared to nine turnovers, while averaging 13 minutes per game. And he's second on the team in free-throw percentage, at .855.
After scoring 16 points in 16 minutes against Boston on Feb. 20, Greg Foster has virtually disappeared. In the 17 games since, he's averaged 6.2 minutes and 1.9 points, while shooting 32.4 percent. The big reason? The re-emergence of rookie center Greg Ostertag.
Ostertag, by the way, averages one blocked shot every 10.8 minutes. By comparison, the next closest Jazzmen in that category are Carr, with one every 23.3 minutes, and Felton Spencer, one every 24.5.