Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie Cards and Other Notable Cards

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Arguably, the all-time best foreign born player in NBA history is Hakeem Olajuwon.  If you followed NBA basketball in the 1980’s or 1990’s, you watched “The Dream” block shots in every basketball arena in the United States. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, the 7’0” tall Center played nasty defense for the Houston Rockets for almost 2 decades!

Hakeem Olajuwon Basketball Cards should always be popular.  As time passes, I have no doubt that they will remain in demand.  Very simply, Hakeem Olajuwon is a legend.  For many years, maybe he was an overlooked legend, but that did not influence the way he played the game.  Let’s take a look at some rookie cards and a few other notable cards.

Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie Cards

1986-87 Fleer Hakeem Olajuwon #82

1986-87 Fleer Hakeem Olajuwon #82

Many collectors consider this the first “official” Hakeem Olajuwon rookie card.  Hailing from the famous 1986-87 Fleer Basketball card set which contains MANY famous rookie cards other than just Olajuwon, this card displays Hakeem in the red and gold uniform of the Houston Rockets.  This card, graded Mint or Near Mint, may cost collectors a pretty penny, but this card graded mid-level may be very attainable.  Notice the name on the front of the card?  That is not a misprint.  When Hakeem first came to America, people at the University of Houston dropped the “H” from his name.  So for about the first 5 years of his NBA career, he was known as “Akeem.”  Hakeem reclaimed that “H” in 1991.  More on that below…

This card displays a perfect image of Hakeem.  As he is boxing out a Laker’s defender, collectors can see the look of determination on Hakeem’s face.  This is a common thread that I have found in Hakeem Olajuwon cards.  That look of intensity was the facial expression that Hakeem displayed on the court.  Could you expect any less from this man?

Find the Card on eBay

1986-87 Fleer Hakeem Akeem Olajuwon Rookie Card RC #82 PSA 5 EX Rockets J697

$21.50  (7 bids)
End Date: Tuesday Jun-21-2022 21:28:23 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer ROOKIE Hakeem Olajuwon RC #82 BGS 8.5 NM/M - SUBS ON BACK - Akeem

$162.50  (13 bids)
End Date: Monday Jun-20-2022 19:04:22 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer Basketball #82 Hakeem Olajuwon RC Rookie HOF SGC 8.5 NM-MT+

$89.00  (7 bids)
End Date: Thursday Jun-23-2022 22:45:42 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer Sticker Hakeem Olajuwon #9

1986-87 Fleer Sticker Hakeem Olajuwon #9

This sticker insert can also be found in the 1986-87 Fleer Basketball Set and it is referred to by some as Hakeem Olajuwon’s 2nd rookie card in the set.  Look closely at this image.  I love it!  Hakeem is blocking a shot from none other than Magic Johnson!  That vertical leap is incredible.  Some great players from an amazing era of the NBA.

This sticker insert is viewed by many as an affordable alternative rookie card.  This Fleer Sticker #9 is attainable for most collectors.  And the image shows us what was to come.  3,830 lay in the future!

Find the Card on eBay

HAKEEM OLAJUWON 1986 87 FLEER STICKER #9 RC ROOKIE PSA 9 HOUSTON ROCKETS

$86.00  (9 bids)
End Date: Monday Jun-20-2022 22:46:30 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer Sticker Akeem Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie RC #9 PSA 4 Rockets K110

$5.50  (2 bids)
End Date: Tuesday Jun-21-2022 22:23:21 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer Sticker Akeem Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie RC #9 PSA 7 NM Rockets K110

$5.50  (3 bids)
End Date: Tuesday Jun-21-2022 22:23:23 EDT

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1986-87 Fleer Basketball Sticker Hakeem AKEEM OLAJUWON Rookie RC #9 SGC 8

$110.00  
End Date: Tuesday Jun-21-2022 14:44:50 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $110.00
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1986-87 Fleer Sticker #9 Hakeem Akeem Olajuwon RC Houston Rockets HOF!

$0.99  
End Date: Sunday Jun-26-2022 18:30:01 EDT
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1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon #237

1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon #237

This is technically the first Hakeem Olajuwon Basketball card and even though it predates the 1986-87 Fleer card by 2 years, some collectors don’t view it as the “official” Hakeem Olajuwon rookie card.  That is a pity because this is a fine card.  Hakeem’s facial features on this card show the intensity that the man played with throughout his career.  The light orange border will grab the attention of anyone, despite whether a person appreciates it or not.

The Star company did not mass produce their cards, so finding an authentic 1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon may be difficult, tricky, or expensive.  And yes, I did say “tricky” because collectors should be warned that Star basketball cards were easy to counterfeit.  PSA will not grade Star cards for this reason, but collectors can still get these cards graded by BGS.  This card may be elusive for some, but obtaining it can be rewarding.

1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon Court Kings #47

1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon Court Kings #47

Why Some collectors refer to this card as an “Oddball Rookie Card,” due to its 5”x7” format.  Star released these Court King cards the same year as Hakeem Olajuwon’s first card.  Again, you can see that intensity as Hakeem is lining up a free throw.  The Deep Blue border will again catch your eye, despite what your opinion is of the format.  Collectors must heed the same warning as the 1984-85 Star #237, Star cards have been counterfeited and there are multiple “fake” Star basketball cards somewhere out there.  But if you can find an authentic Court Kings #47, I am sure you will be quite fond of it.

Other Notable Hakeem Olajuwon Cards

1985-86 Star Hakeem Olajuwon #18

1985-86 Star Hakeem Olajuwon #18

When would you ever expect to see a man who’s 7 feet tall be “dwarfed” by a man standing behind him?  This is my favorite image from an Hakeem Olajuwon card!  Hakeem Olajuwon is a very intimidating 7’0” but on this card he is standing in front of his teammate, the 7’4” Ralph Sampson.  Hakeem and Ralph made up the duo known as “The Twin Towers.”This card displays exactly what opponents of the Houston Rockets faced during the 1985-86 season.  A frightening height advantage.  The border of the card is similar to the 1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon, although this time it is bright yellow.

This card still precedes the 1986-87 Fleer Hakeem Olajuwon Rookie Card, but unlike the similar 1984-85 Star Hakeem Olajuwon, collectors do not view this card as a possible rookie card.  After all, it is from his second season.  I need to issue a similar warning statement as the one I mentioned above.  Collectors should be careful purchasing Star basketball cards because three are numerous counterfeit cards out there.  Mint or near mint versions of this card are available and can be attained for a modest sum.  Like previous Star sets, the print level was limited, so authentic versions of this card may be tough to find.  But for the novelty of this card and a clear display of “The Twin Towers,” this card is worth it.

1991 Fleer #214 All-Star Team Hakeem Olajuwon

1991 Fleer #214 All-Star Team Hakeem Olajuwon

This card is one of the earliest cards to ever print the name “Hakeem” to replace “Akeem.”  As I stated above, Hakeem reclaimed the “H” in his name in March 1991.  Hakeem states in his autobiography, Living the Dream, that in 1991, his thoughts on this aspect were, “I’m not changing the spelling of my name, I’m correcting it.”  So the value of this card is simple.  It was one of the very first times that Hakeem saw his name correctly written on a basketball card.

This card is very attainable and collectors of Hakeem Olajuwon memorabilia may definitely be interested in this card.  Something else interesting?  People remember Olajuwon in goggles but they weren’t common until the 1993 season.  So Hakeem in goggles and Hakeem with the all-important “H,” make this card a nice collectible.

1991-92 Upper Deck #254 Hakeem Olajuwon

1991-92 Upper Deck #254 Hakeem Olajuwon

I included this card as notable because it is the Upper Deck card from the first season that Hakeem Olajuwon was known as “Hakeem” rather than “Akeem.”  But also, I like this card!  The camera captured a perfect instance where Hakeem’s massive body frame was completing the process of a very powerful slam dunk.  Watching Olajuwon in the early ‘90’s, I remember not only seeing him slam home some beautiful dunks, but I also remember hearing them.  There is nothing quite like the sound of a massive hand pounding and pulling the rim of the net.

Find the Most Expensive Hakeem Olajuwon Cards on eBay

1986 Fleer HAKEEM OLAJUWON #82 Rookie PSA 10 GEM MINT RC

$13,995.00  

Buy It Now for only: $13,995.00
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What’s in a Name?

Multiple times in this article, I have mentioned the spelling of Hakeem Olajuwon’s first name.  And for very good reason.  In March 1991, when asked about the addition to his name, Hakeem stated, “It’s no big deal…  I just want to go back to the original spelling, the way it is meant to be spelled in Arabic.”  Well, he may have stated, “It’s no big deal,” but I think we all know it was a big deal.  “Hakeem” when translated from Arabic means, “a wise man, a doctor.”  “Akeem” does not translate into any meaning in English.  As Hakeem became a more devout muslim in the 1990’s, reclaiming his “H” must have meant a lot to him.  Knowing his name means, “a wise man,” and knowing that others now understood his name translation, must have given Hakeem some confidence.

Hakeem Olajuwon Collector’s Cards

Are Hakeem Olajuwon basketball cards valuable?  The very simple answer is, in many ways, Yes!  Some people are Lifelong Houston Rockets fans.  Olajuwon cards have a definite value to these fans.  Even if it is not monetary.  Let’s say you are a collector of cards from certain athletes.  Yes, Hakeem Olajuwon is definitely an individual whose cards you would want to collect.  Even if you only want to collect cards from 3 players in the NBA.  Hakeem Olajuwon could definitely be one of those 3 players.

I hinted at it earlier.  Hakeem Olajuwon still holds the NBA record as the All-Time Leader in Blocked Shots with 3,830.  Fans of defensive basketball love that!  But something else to keep in mind, Hakeem Olajuwon was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary team in 2021.  That means that he is no longer overlooked.  True followers of the NBA now recognize what a valuable player Hakeem Olajuwon was and how he changed the league just by his presence.  These are all factors that will lead to the increased popularity of Hakeem Olajuwon’s cards in years to come.