Olajuwon thrilled by LeBron’s breakthrough
MIAMI – LeBron James might not go there. But Hakeem Olajuwon can say it for him.
“Now, all the critics can shut up,” Olajuwon, a Hall of Famer, said after watching James win his first NBA title on Thursday night for the Miami Heat and take home the Bill Russell Finals MVP award.
Olajuwon calls James his “little brother.” The legendary center worked out with James last summer at his ranch outside Houston, showing him post moves.
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Olajuwon lives half the year in Amman, Jordan. That’s where he was for Game 5, watching on television when it started at 4 a.m. local time Friday.
“I’m just so happy for him,” Olajuwon said in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida after James had totaled 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in Miami’s 121-106 win over Oklahoma City, which clinched the series 4-1. “It’s so well deserved. It’s so special. I feel so proud to have contributed to his career.”
James won his third MVP award during the regular season. Now that he has added one championship, Olajuwon believes there will be more.
“He’s an iconic superstar, and he’s becoming a legend,” said Olajuwon, who won titles with Houston in 1994 and 1995 and both times was Finals MVP. “He will only get better. I think he will win many more championships.”
Olajuwon said he plans to call James “as soon as possible” to congratulate him. He talked to James three times early in the playoffs when Olajuwon was in Texas before he returned to Jordan.
“I just tried to tell him to rely on some of the things we had gone over,” Olajuwon said. “There were so many times when it looked like they might not get out of a series, but he had that determination and confidence level to overcome that.”
The Heat became the first team to win an NBA title after trailing in three series. They were down 2-1 to Indiana and 3-2 to Boston before trailing the Thunder 1-0 in the Finals.
James claimed his initial ring in his ninth season, having fallen short in two previous Finals. Olajuwon has talked to James about having patience since he didn’t win his first championship until his 10th season.
“I think waiting that long makes it much sweeter for him,” Olajuwon said. “It puts more value on it. He was determined to make up for last year (a 4-2 Finals loss to Dallas).”
James’ critics came out in full force after that loss. But Olajuwon said it’s now time for them to be silent.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson