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Michael Olowokandi

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Michael Olowokandi
Michael Olowokandi with Earl Barron.jpg
Olowokandi in 2006 with Earl Barron.
Personal information
Born (1975-04-03) 3 April 1975 (age 43)
Lagos, Nigeria
Listed height7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
Listed weight270 lb (122 kg)
Career information
CollegePacific (1995–1998)
NBA draft1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
Selected by the Los Angeles Clippers
Playing career1998–2007
PositionCenter
Number34, 41
Career history
1998Kinder Bologna
19982003Los Angeles Clippers
20032006Minnesota Timberwolves
20062007Boston Celtics
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points4,135 (8.3 ppg)
Rebounds3,414 (6.8 rpg)
Blocks697 (1.4 bpg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com

Michael Olowokandi[1] (born 3 April 1975) is a retired professional basketball player. Born in Lagos and raised in London, he attended college on a basketball scholarship at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, and was the number one pick in the 1998 NBA draft, where he was selected as a center by the Los Angeles Clippers. He played professionally until 2007.

Early years[edit]

Olowokandi was born in Lagos; his father was a diplomat. His family moved to London, and Olowokandi attended the Newlands Manor School in Seaford, East Sussex and Brunel University. At Brunel, he was an athlete in track and field, cricket, and rugby union, and began playing basketball when he was 18.[2][3]

College career[edit]

In 1995, he enrolled at University of the Pacific after opening to the school's page in Peterson's Guide to American Colleges and Universities. At a 7-foot height, Olowokandi called the basketball office at Pacific in the hopes that he would be accepted.[2] During his junior year, he led his team to the 1997 NCAA Tournament and as a senior he led the Tigers to the 1998 National Invitation Tournament. He averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game his senior year and was the 1997–98 Big West Conference Player of the Year. He graduated from Pacific with a degree in economics in 1998 and his No. 55 jersey was retired by the university.[4] After his senior year, he was drafted with the first overall pick of the 1998 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.[2][5]

Professional career[edit]

Because of the 1998–99 NBA lockout, the season in which he was drafted, Olowokandi signed for Italian team Kinder Bologna. With Bologna, in 3 games played, he averaged 4.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game in 17.3 minutes per game, in the Italian League.[6] With Bologna, he also played in 3 games in the FIBA EuroLeague, where he averaged 10.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 0.3 assists per game in 21.3 minutes per game.[7] When he eventually signed for the Clippers he played there for five seasons. Afterward, he signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2003–04 NBA season. On 26 January 2006, he was traded to the Boston Celtics in a multi-player trade.[8]

In 500 regular season NBA games (399 games started), Olowokandi averaged 8.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.39 blocked shots per game. In 15 playoff games (2 starts), he averaged 2.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.73 blocks per game. In the 2001–2002 season, Olowokandi saw the most playing time of his career and averaged 11.1 points and 8.8 rebounds. During the last 20 games of that season, he averaged 17 points a game and 11 rebounds, and was considered one of the biggest free agents in the 2002–2003 free agency class.[9][10] He played 36 games in the 2002–2003 season before sustaining an injury that forced him to miss the rest of the season. In his last year with the Los Angeles Clippers, he sustained a hernia and knee injury, which greatly hindered his ability after being listed as a top free agent prospect for the 2002–03 season. He finished that season averaging 12.3 points (on 42.7% shooting from the floor) 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, and 2.7 turnovers per game. During that offseason, he signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. His time with the Timberwolves was marked by serious injury and inconsistent play.

Notable achievements[edit]

  • On 8th March 2002, he achieved the most notable performance of the season with high 30 points vs. the Chicago Bulls.[11]
  • On 19th November 2002, he scored 24 points and 12 rebounds effort, including 20 in the second half in the win against the Golden States. [12][13]
  • On 17th December 2002, he helped his team defeat San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio for the first time in five years by scoring 17 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists.[14]
  • Olowokandi’s play was competitive against superstar Tim Duncan.[15] That San Antonio team would go on to become that season’s NBA World Champions.[16]
  • On Nov 13th 2002, he scored 19 points vs. Miami Heat, 17 of those points came in the second half alone. Olowokandi’s plays gave the Clippers an 81-66 lead with 9:01 left in the game capped the team's best basketball so far this season. [17] After the game, teammate, Corey Magette said the team realized in the last two games that Olowokandi was one of the team’s key to winning.[18] Against the Orlando Magic he scored 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists in the Clipper's victory.[19][20]

Pre-injury[edit]

  • In the 2001 season, Olowokandi led the game and his team with 12 rebounds to go along with 4 blocks and 3 steals in a victory against the Atlanta Hawks.[21]
  • On Nov 8th, he led with a game high 5 blocked shots in a victory against the Memphis Grizzlies. [22]
  • On Nov 9th, he led with a game high 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots against the Portland Trailblazers [23]
  • On Nov 11th, he contributed 11 points, 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in a victory against the Phoenix Suns. [24]
  • On Nov 18th he had a game high 3 blocks in a victory against the New York Knicks. [25]
  • On Dec 16 he had 13 rebounds and 2 blocks in a victory against Detroit Pistons. [26]
  • On Dec 21 Olowokandi had 13 points 11 rebounds and 2 blocks in 27 minutes in victory against the Sacramento Kings.[27]
  • On Dec 29th he had 16 points, 9 rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers [28]
  • On 29thDec, he grabbed a season high (82) 20 rebounds against Boston Celtics. [29]
  • Jan 11th 2002, he scored 12 points and 10 rebounds against the New Jersey Nets.[30]
  • In January 32002, he had 13 points 12 rebounds and 3 blocks against the Sacramento Kings. [31]
  • On January 5th he grabbed 11 rebounds and a game high 4 blocked shots against the Charlotte Hornets [32]
  • Jan 13, 16 points 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots in a win against the Toronto Raptors. [33]
  • Jan 19, 19 points 11 rebounds in a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. [34]
  • Jan 23rd, he had 14 points 10 rebounds and 6 blocked shots in a win against the Denver Nuggets. [35]
  • Jan 24th, he had 12 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks in a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers. [36]
  • Jan 27th, he had 15 points and a game high 8 rebounds with 3 assists against the Dallas Mavericks. [37]
  • Jan 29, he had a game high 27 points, 8 rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies. [38]
  • Feb 1, he 20 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in a victory against San Antonio Spurs [39]
  • Feb 3rd, 18 points, 14 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks. [40]
  • Feb 5th, 27 points 15 rebounds 2 steals and2 steals against the Boston Celtics. [41] 
  • Feb 15th, 15 points 12 rebounds 3 blocks and 2 assists against the San Antonio Spurs. [42]
  • Feb 17th, 15 points 11 rebounds 4 blocks and 3 assists in a victory against the Dallas Cowboys. [43]
  • Feb 19th, 15 points 15 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks against the Portland Trail Blazers. [44]
  • Feb 24th, 15 points against the Indiana Pacers. [45]
  • March 3rd, 13 points 10 rebounds, 3 blocks in a win against the Golden State Warriors. [46]
  • March 9th, 30 points, 16 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals in a victory against the Chicago Bulls.[47]
  • March 16th, 16 points 9 rebounds against the Phoenix Suns. [48]
  • March 26th , team high 26 points, game high 17 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals against the San Antonio Spurs. [49]
  • March 27th, team high 23 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists against the Sacramento Kings. [50]
  • March 30th, 14 points 14 rebounds in a victory against the Phoenix Suns. [51]
  • March 31st, 28 points, 4 assists and 2 blocks against the Utah Jazz [52]
  • April 5th, 19 points 8 rebounds, 3 assists 2 blocks against the Dallas Mavericks. [53]
  • April 7th he had a game high in 23 points and game high 6 blocks in a win against Denver Nuggets. [54]
  • In April 13th, 21 points and 7 rebounds against the Sacramento Kings. [55]
  • April 14th, 13 points 8 rebounds 2 blocks and 2 assists against the Minnesota Timberwolves. [56]
  • April 17, 25 points 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks in a win against the Memphis Grizzlies. [57]
  • April 18, 10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals against the Golden State Warriors [58]

In the 2002 season[edit]

  • On October 31st, despite his abdominal and knee injury he played the season opener and achieved 18 points and 13 rebounds. [59]
  • On 3rd November 2002, he led his team in points and rebounds scoring 19 points and grabbing a career high 20 rebounds against the Detroit piston to lead his team to their first victory of the 2002-2003 season. [60] The Clippers began rallying in the third quarter. He scored 12 of the team’s total 24 third quarter points. When Clippers had a deficit against the Pistons, the Clippers erased that deficit with a 20-3 run in the third where Olowokandi had contributed eight of those points. [61]
  • On 21st November 2002, he led his team in rebounds against the Sacramento Kings with 12 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. [62]
  • On 19th December 2002, against the Portland Trail Blazers, he led the game in rebounds with 10 rebounds to go along with 10 points, 2 assists and 2 steals. [63]
  • In December 14th 2009, in his first game back after taking 5 games off in order to rest his persistent injury, he led his team with 20 points and 11 rebounds. [64]
  • On 9th January 2003, he led the rebounding effort against the Memphis Grizzlies with 10 rebounds. [65]

San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich stated that Olowokandi is incredible after he scored 26 points and take 17 rebounds in the Spurs' victory over the Clippers [66].He was succeeding to prove that he was the second best center in the NBA before the unfortunate episode of his knee and Hernia Injury [67].This contradicted the false interpretation that Olowokandi didn’t put in the necessary effort to be an All star. Rather, the truth was he trained vigorously after the 2001-2002 season before the start of the new season which led to overtraining [68]. This over-training led to a Hernia pull and knee injury at the start of the new season. He continued to play with the injury and pain before retirement, which subjected him to several unfair and inconsiderate criticisms. [69]

Post-injury[edit]

Just before the start of the 2002-2003 season, Olowokandi prepared vigorously for the upcoming season. The vigorous off-season training contributed to his Hernia and knee injuries at the start of the season. Despite the injury, he kept playing and didn’t want to complain about it even though he had been enduring pain all season.The team doctor misdiagnosed it as just Tendinitis and couldn’t provide any more answers which urged Olowokandi to keep playing.He finally received consultation with a private, external, non-team-affiliated doctor, Dr Arthur Ting, who properly diagnosed it as an erosion behind the knee cap. He had season ending knee surgery at the Fremont Surgery Center in northern California [70][71] This injury would continue to plague him throughout his career with numerous more surgeries while he played for other teams.[72] He also lived with a Hernia injury, which was previously misdiagnosed as just a hip injury/abdominal injury. [73][74] Even though he started the season strongly, these injury would progressively take its toll on his ability to perform at his usual level. [75]

In 2009, Dr. Ulrike Muschaweck properly diagnosed the ailment as Sports Hernia, which was a torn protruding Transverse Abdominus, 6 years after the initial injury and 2 years after retirement. He underwent Hernioplasty reconstructive surgery in May 2009, two years after his retirement. Prior to Olowokandi’s injury complications, Hall of Famer, Yao Ming, who was averaging 17 points was only able to score 4 points due to Olowokandi's defense. Yao Ming, praising Olowokandi, said: 'Olowokandi is very strong and he has very good moves.[76] The team was dismayed when the Clippers didn’t sign Olowokandi and Brand, who were due a contract extension, prior to the 2002 season. [77] It is customary for teams to extend contracts of players who are due for an extension in order to prevent uncertainty and contract-related topics of distractions in the team. The General Manager, Coach and team mates stated that “Olowokandi's growing presence in the middle has allowed All-Star Elton Brand to concentrate on his more natural position, power forward. Brand already has said that his future with the team is tied to Olowokandi's". He was also held a vital position in the organization before the injuries. Clipper forward Corey Maggette stated that "I feel Michael Olowokandi has improved 300% from where he started. He has become a dominant big man. The sky is the limit for him. But they still need to pay him that money." The General Manager of Clipper, Elgin Baylor wanted to keep him in the team.[78]

It was a commonly held belief around the NBA that the young talented Clippers would not be signed and kept together due to the then-owner’s reputation of not paying to keep the players. Many other teams were known to sign Clipper players. Olowokandi was the first choice to be signed by five-time world champions, San Antonio Spurs, to replace Hall of Famer, David Robinson. [79][80] He was also the first choice to be signed by the Denver Nuggets after being wined and dined by the Nuggets while he was still a Clipper. "He's a legitimate center," Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "There are very few legitimate centers out there”. [81][82]

Prior to his injury, and in his fifth year in the NBA, Olowokandi was listed as the 4th most valuable free-agent in the top 20 free agents in the NBA because of his rapid improvement.[83] ESPN said: “big men with Olowokandi's size and skill are few and far between in the NBA, he can score, block shots and rebound” [84] Prior to his injuries, Olowokandi was a dominant player against some the best NBA defenders like Dikembe Mutombo, the Clippers ran their offense through him.  The No. 1 pick of the 1998 draft put up a solid 12 points and 12 rebounds against Philadelphia's Dikembe Mutombo and followed with a 20-point, eight-rebound, four-block performance against Houston. [85]

When it came time to NBA teams to re-sign Olowokandi; though Olowokandi had continued to perform better than many other players who played his position.His constant opposition with the Clipper franchise held him back. In the 2001-2002 season before his injury he averaged 16.5 points and 9.6 rebounds in the last 23 games of the season. However what he was remembered for his candid, critical and truthful words about the tight-walleted Clippers that centered around players worrying about their contract situations.[86] Even though his criticism of the Clippers was controversial, his comments were often what everybody already knew but would only say in private. [87] The player he replaced averaged 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks on 52 percent shooting. On the other hand, Olowokandi averaged 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks on 42 percent shooting in only 36 games last season and is about to sign a contract for half as many years as the man he is replacing and, at a total of $16.2 million, almost one-third the money. [88][89]

He initiated the season of 2002-03 on a positive note beforeinjuries hit him and affected the performance. His hernia and knee injury restricted him from being signed as a maximum-contract free agent after being listed as a top prospect for the 2002-03 season.Olowokandi's bid to build on his solid 2001-02 season began poorly when he missed all eight preseason games with a knee injury. Nonetheless, he averaged 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds over the first 17 games last season, but on Dec. 1, the knee problems returned. Eventually, his troublesome left knee required surgery and he missed the final 2½ months of the season.[73]

In the season, he averaged 12.3 points 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks.[90] In 2003, he also signed with the Timberwolves for a lower market price.[91] Though he encountered with injuries, he played 43 games and received unsuccessful rehabilitation treatments for the remainder of his time in the NBA. As a result, he decided to retire on 2007. In 2009, two years after retirement, he underwent Hernioplasty re-constructive surgery in Munich, Germany. [92]

Overall, Olowokandi's professional career was remarkably underwhelming and he has repeatedly been named among the biggest disappointments in NBA history. Additionally, Olowokondi was the first pick by the Green Mountain Java in the 1998 Bunton League draft.[93] The Clippers' pick of Olowokandi was particularly considered a "bust" as the 1998 NBA draft produced notable players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Rashard Lewis, and Mike Bibby.[94]

Charity[edit]

Michael Olowokandi is known for his generosity and his many personal charity contributions, some of which were unaffiliated with his teams. While in University, he agreed with the University that sales from his University Jersey be donated to children with critical illnesses at the Make-A-Wish-Foundation.[95] He donated $100 000 the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles for the purchase of a new incubator to the premature babies' ward.. He chose to do this discretely and not through his team- hoping it would be undisclosed to the media. [96][97]

He was also inducted as a member of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles ‘Living Proof Honor Roll of Donors. These donors have enabled the Children’s Hospital to fulfill their mission to create hope and build better futures for children in the community and beyond.[98] On Thanksgiving Day, as it is customary to spend it enjoying dinner with family members, he chose to spend it with critically ill children who couldn’t be at home at the Children’s hospital Boston. He also spent it by serving home cooked meals to over 200 homeless men and women at the Pine Street Inn.[99] He still participates in various undisclosed charitable projects. His #55 jersey was retired by the University of the Pacific Tigers.[citation needed]

Career statistics[edit]

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
Denotes seasons in which Olowokandi won an NBA championship
* Led the league

NBA[edit]

Regular season[edit]

Year Team GP GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
1998–99 L.A. Clippers 45 36 28.4 0.431 - .483 7.9 0.6 0.6 1.2 8.9
1999–2000 L.A. Clippers 80 77 31.2 0.437 - .651 8.2 0.5 0.4 1.8 9.8
2000–01 L.A. Clippers 82 82 25.9 0.435 - .545 6.4 0.6 0.4 1.3 8.5
2001–02 L.A. Clippers 80 79 32.1 0.433 - 0.622 8.9 1.1 0.7 1.8 11.1
2002–03 L.A. Clippers 36 36 38 0.427 - 0.657 9.1 1.3 0.5 2.2 12.3
2003–04 Minnesota Timberwolves 43 25 21.5 0.425 - 0.59 5.7 0.6 0.4 1.6 6.5
2004–05 Minnesota Timberwolves 62 34 19.6 0.456 - 0.667 5.2 0.5 0.2 0.9 5.9
2005–06 Minnesota Timberwolves 32 24 23.5 0.446 - 0.487 5.6 0.5 0.6 0.8 6
2005–06 Boston Celtics 16 0 10.4 0.444 - 0.625 2.6 0.4 0.2 0.4 2.8
2006–07 Boston Celtics 24 0 9.8 0.413 - 0.667 2 0.2 0.3 0.5 1.7
Career 500 393 26.3 0.435 0.597 6.8 0.7 0.5 1.4 8.3

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