With the launch of The Dream Collection, Hakeem Olajuwon is poised to do to the fashion world what he once did to the Knicks: twist, shimmy, and Shake it into submission, until it's reduced to launching 18 desperate 3-pointers. We caught up with him to chat about passion, tacos, and the fluidity of height.
How tall are you?
6 '11". But they list me at 7 feet sometimes.
We heard there's a controversy.
I'm 6'11". Legitimate.
Don't lie to me Dream.
Well, you know, when you want to go to the pros from college, you give yourself an extra inch.
So you're really 6'6". Who's a better basketball player, 'Akeem or Hakeem? And who's better looking?
It's the same guy, same moves. Most people are better looking when they're younger, I'd say I've gotten better with age.
What was the biggest adjustment moving to the US from Nigeria?
Nigeria is tropical, hot. When I came here it was my first experience of winter. Most people don't think Houston is cold, but to me it was freezing.
What was it like playing basketball during Ramadan?
Psychologically you think that if you don't have food in your stomach you'll be weak. But it's the opposite. You have so much room to breath oxygen.
You filmed a Taco Bell commercial with Shaq in the '90s announcing their Double Decker Taco. How many could you eat, and could you out-do Shaq?
Right now I'm trying to lose weight, so maybe two. I won't compete with Shaq in that area.
You're an entrepreneur. Have you ever thought of making an after-workout drink called the Dream Shake, and what would be in it?
Really, no. I've thought about an actual milkshake. But your idea is better. I like vanilla and strawberry. With banana. You've gotta be creative.
How else do you apply the Dream Shake to your life?
A classic example of that is fashion. Take cashmere. It's a formal fabric, sports coats, overcoats. I'd bring it down, make it casual. But it's cashmere. People aren't used to seeing it in a casual environment. That's a Dream Shake. Shaking from formal to informal.
So misdirection is key to your style off the court?
Yes. The key to fashion is, you don't want to look like you're trying. You've gotta be natural. But what you throw on is making a huge statement without you talking. That's the Dream Shake. Or you could call that a crossover.
Have you ever thought about making Phi Slamma Pajammas?
No, but I am going to do the Dream House collection. A lot of bedspreads, towels. But this is a good idea that you gave me, I'm adding it to the collection. That's what's so good about building your own brand. Any good idea, you can add it to the collection. That's the creativity.
When Nene came into the league, everyone compared him to you. How did you feel about that?
Who is he?
He's a Brazilian player, for the Nuggets.
I don't know, I'm not familiar with him. You have to hurry up now because my battery is dying.
Okay, real quick then: did you ever play the video game NBA Jam?