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Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rockets’ legend tutors Yao Ming

Olajuwon challenges big man in 90-minute workout

May 23, 2007

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— As long as he plays for the Houston Rockets, Yao Ming will always be compared to Hakeem Olajuwon. He might as well turn to The Dream for advice.

Yao worked out with Olajuwon Tuesday at the Toyota Center, the cornerstone of the Rockets' future getting his first lesson from the greatest center in franchise history.

"For a young player, how many people get this chance?" Yao said. "I'm the honored one of those."

The 44-year-old Olajuwon is the NBA's career leader in blocked shots (3,830) and led the Rockets to their only two championships in 1994 and '95. The 12-time All-Star spends most of his time now in Jordan, though he still has a real-estate business in Houston.

Olajuwon worked with Yao for 90 minutes, picking apart Yao's post moves and giving him pep talks.

"How do you dominate the game?" Olajuwon asked. "You are hardworking, you have the conditioning, you have the shots. You have everything. Now, you have to dominate."

Olajuwon showed off a few of his old moves, too, dropping in some baseline jumpers and jump hooks as easily as he did 10 years ago.

"The biggest difference between him and me is the mentality," Yao said. "He's got two championship rings. I can hear very strongly from him, 'You are the biggest player on the court. You need to go in and change the game. You need to be dominant.' He repeated that time and time again. I feel a little bit different. I feel his heart," Ming said.

Olajuwon retired after the 2001-02 season and the Rockets drafted Yao with the first pick a few months later.

Yao has blossomed into one of the league's top centers, averaging 25 points and nine rebounds last season. But he showed in this year's playoffs he still has much to improve, committing 33 turnovers against Utah.

Olajuwon showed Yao how to get into the lane from various spots and score using a single dribble.

"If you get the ball here, they're in trouble," Olajuwon said.

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