Friday, October 25, 2002

Olajuwon to retire Nov. 9 in Houston

HOUSTON - Hakeem Olajuwon will announce his retirement Nov. 9 in Houston, where he started his stellar 18-year career in the NBA, his agent told a TV station Thursday night.

The Rockets said they knew only that Olajuwon would attend a ceremony honoring him that night in Houston before a game against Golden State. The Toronto Raptors, with whom Olajuwon played last season, are at Indiana on Nov. 9.

The 39-year-old center played 17 years with the Houston Rockets, leading them to NBA championships in 1994 and 1995. In college, he led Houston to the NCAA title game in 1983 and 1984.

The Raptors excused him from training camp because of serious back problems. Toronto general manager Glen Grunwald said earlier in the month he doesn't expect Olajuwon to play this season or in the future.

"We've determined he's just not going to be able to play anymore," agent Dan Fegan told KRIV-TV in Houston. "So it's not finalized, but he's going to make that retirement announcement official Nov. 9."

A call by The Associated Press to Fegan's office was not answered.

Fegan told the TV station that Olajuwon is grateful the Rockets are accommodating his wishes to retire in Houston.

"I think it's fantastic. It's a great win for Hakeem and the Rockets," Fegan said. "There's a great love on Hakeem's part and the Rockets' part. This is the right way to finish his career."

The Nigerian-born 7-footer was the first pick in the 1984 draft, and he became one of the league's dominant big men. He's the Rockets' career leader in points (26,511), rebounds (13,382) and steals (2,088), and he's the NBA's career leader in blocks (3,830).

Olajuwon played in 12 All-Star games, was named MVP in 1994 and was named one of the league's 50 greatest players in 1996. That year he also won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic team.

He went to the Raptors in August 2001 after turning down a three-year, $13 million offer from the Rockets. He signed a three-year, $18 million contract with Toronto. In his only season with the Raptors, he played in 61 games and averaged career lows in points (7.1) and rebounds (6.0).

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