Exclusive Q&A: Hakeem Olajuwon talks volunteering, memories, Final Four

Hakeem Olajuwon: Early Championship Losses Gave Me Drive to Win
Hakeem Olajuwon: Early Championship Losses Gave Me Drive to Win

In the spirit of the Final Four, members of the Allstate NABC Good Works Team will bring their passion for volunteerism to Houston to teach Special Olympics of Texas athletes the fundamentals of basketball.

NBA legend Hakeem Olajuwon will join the team members to help coach the group through a variety of basketball skills, drills and activities. In addition, the former Rockets great also gave his take on this year's tournament and discussed some March Madness memories from the past.

Q: You've gotten involved with the Allstate Good Works Team. How much fun and rewarding has that been for you?

A: It's been fun so far because of the nature of this team. We're helping players in their community and I think it's commendable.

Q: When you were younger, you turned to Moses Malone for guidance and practice. Did you pick up any coaching techniques or life lessons from him?

A: The advice of, assuring that I have a great opportunity and to keep composure while working hard. You can accomplish anything if you stay focused and take advantage of opportunities that are given to you. And, do your best to do the right things.

Q: Looking back to when you played in March Madness when you were in college, what made it most enjoyable?

A: Winning (laughs). With conference games, all the way to the regionals, all the way to the Final Four, it was fun. When you play outside your conference, you're unfamiliar with the guys and it's a whole new experience. Going through that, competing at that level, and believing 'wow, we can win it all.' It's about growing and the competition.

Q: Did you get the feeling that the support from the student body often becomes the most cherished part of March Madness?

A: It was. When you go to class the next day and walking around students on campius you're representing, it's the best. You're making them proud of the university. That kind of feeling is joyful. You see the students with t-shirts and sweatshirts, there's so much pride.

Q: What was the most difficult part?

A: For me, it was just to relax and be yourself and play your game. All the distractions ... some players try too hard to force things, rather than just play the game with a rhythm. Relax and take it like another game –- once you get it going, then you get the confidence that will carry through.

Q: What are your thoughts on this Saturday's games?

A: I'm thinking Oklahoma and Syracuse. I like Syracuse's story and Oklahoma has been playing really well. It's wide open.

Q: Did you fill out a bracket?

A: (Laughs) No.

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