Hakeem Olajuwan in a 1995 Spalding Signature Sneaker

Today in Performance Sneaker History: Hakeem Olajuwon Leads Rockets to ’95 Title in a Spalding Signature Model

Let’s flash back to the NBA postseason of June 1995. Shaquille O’Neal has just led the Orlando Magic past the Indiana Pacers for the Eastern Conference Title. Out west, the Houston Rockets put away the Spurs after six games to advance. And so the stage was set: Houston vs. Orlando. Both teams featured some of the biggest names of their era, but the real draw was the showdown between Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaq. The two towering centers were literally and figuratively at the top of their game, but something had to give as the Finals series began. Houston ended up taking an early 3-0 advantage, and Game 4 took place on June 14, 1995.

On this night, Hakeem “The Dream” dominated as usual, scoring 35 points, snatching 15 rebounds, and dishing out 6 assists. Mario Elie and Robert Horry also contributed in big ways offensively with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Despite Orlando’s best efforts, including 25 points a piece from Shaq and Penny Hardaway, the Rockets finished off the sweep with a 113-101 win. This was the second consecutive championship win for Houston, and Hakeem Olajuwon ended up winning the NBA Finals MVP honors.

Before Mario Chalmers, Hakeem Olajuwon was endorsing Spalding’s supportive high-tops. Towards the end of 1995, Spalding would introduce the officially branded “The Dream” line, but at this point the sneakers did not feature Hakeem’s moniker. With design cues that scream “’90s” like flowing lines and a chunky midsole, a retro of this signature model would likely become a hit in today’s environment.

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