Last night, the Houston Rockets came together to pick up a 109-106 win over New York. The game was tight all the way through, and despite Carmelo Anthony’s best efforts with a season-high 45 points, the Rockets got it done in the end. Currently 6-4 and third in their division, the Rockets will host the struggling Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.
Nearly two decades ago, during the start of the ’95-96 NBA season, Houston was one of the most dominant teams in the west. They had won the NBA Championship the previous two years, and were looking to push towards elite territory with their third consecutive title. Armed with a versatile starting lineup that included Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Kenny Smith, and Robert Horry, the Rockets crossed the Canadian border for a November 15, 1995 game against the newly founded Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors were 1-6 going into the game and had lost 6 straight games, but they put up a fight until the last minute during the 96-93 Rockets win. During this game, Hakeem Olajuwon had 7 blocks, which made him just the third player in history to reach the 3,000 mark. Olajuwon would go on to play for another six years, racking up a total of 3,830 career blocks, a record which stands as the highest of all time.
Despite his prowess on the hardwood and a laundry list of career accolades, Hakeem Olajuwon’s signature sneaker line doesn’t seem to get as much attention as those of his peers. He wore brands like Spalding, Etonic, and LA Gear throughout his 18 year career, and during the beginning of the ’95-96 season, he wore the Spalding Finish Strong. Later in 1995, the Inquirer of Philadelphia put together an interesting piece examining the lack of demand for Olajuwon’s signature style. Long before the Internet took over the sneaker industry, consumers were controlling the market by voicing likes and dislikes with the strongest tool of all: their hard earned dollars.