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

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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.

THE BEST OF MARCH MADNESS:

19 PHOTOS
Best men's March Madness photos 2016
See Gallery
Exclusive Q&A: Hakeem Olajuwon talks volunteering, memories, Final Four
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels defends a shot by Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange in the first half during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Chris Steppig - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Buddy Hield #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts in the second half against the Villanova Wildcats during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Marcus Paige #5 celebrate defeating the Syracuse Orange 83-66 as Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 27: Malachi Richardson #23 of the Syracuse Orange falls off of the court in the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional Final at United Center on March 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26: The Villanova Wildcats celebrate defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 64-59 during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks falls as he drives between Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats and Kris Jenkins #2 in the second half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25: Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after a basket in the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils goes up for a shot against Jordan Bell #1 of the Oregon Ducks in the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at the Honda Center on March 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Ben Bentil #0 of the Providence Friars dunks the ball in the first half over Elijah Stewart #30 of the USC Trojans during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels rebounds against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basbetball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Zach Johnson #5 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles dives to shoot the ball in the first half against Isaiah Hicks #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 17: Roger Woods #0 of the Arkansas Little Rock Trojans and P.J. Thompson #3 of the Purdue Boilermakers fight for a ball during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17: Taurean Prince #21 of the Baylor Bears dunks the ball in the first half against the Yale Bulldogs during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 20: DeAndre Bembry #43 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks goes up with a reverse dunk against hte Oregon Ducks in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 20, 2016 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Adam Woodbury #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes goes up against Phil Booth #5 of the Villanova Wildcats in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 18: Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins puts up a shot against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 18, 2016 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17: Derek Willis #35 and Skal Labissiere #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats reject a shot by Rayshaun McGrew #11 of the Stony Brook Seawolves in the first half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 18: Isaiah Taylor #1 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after Paul Jesperson #4 of the Northern Iowa Panthers hit a half court three pointer to win the game with a score of 75 to 72 during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 18, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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