When’s the best time to ask your boss for a $15 million contract extension? For most of us, never. For big man Hakeem Olajuwon, it was the winter of 1992. Sure, the Rockets weren’t doing so hot and had just fired coach Don Chaney, but Hakeem was making less than the league’s other elite centers, so what’s the harm in asking? Beef? Is beef the harm in asking?
Yes. First, owner Charlie Thomas and GM Steve Patterson refused to negotiate with him. Then Olajuwon strained his hamstring, and the Rockets brass was like, “Oh yeah right, you’re not hurt, you’re just refusing to play until we negotiate your contract.” They suspended Olajuwon and took to the press with their fake-injury allegations. Hakeem fired back in the press, really going after Thomas and Patterson’s intelligence. The word “stupid” was used quite a bit. Oh, and he also demanded a trade.
The 92-93 season rolled around and Hakeem did not get traded, though he did eventually land a contract on par with David Robinson and Patrick Ewing. Despite the ugly months, Hakeem managed to find happiness with Houston, – it helped that ownership and GMs changed. And best of all might be Olajuwon and the Rockets took home two, that’s right TWO, subsequent championships, via Secret Base.