15. Raptors sign Hakeem Olajuwon Toronto Raptors’ new center Hakeem Olajuwon, right, shows off his new Raptors jersey as he shakes hands with new teammate Vince Carter at a news conference in Toronto Tuesday August 7, 2001. (AP Photo/Aaron Harris)
Not many expected the Raptors to sign Hakeem Olajuwon back in 2001, but with general manager Glen Grunwald spending money to try to build a contender, Olajuwon was apparently the “missing piece”.
The only problem with the then 38-year-old hall of fame centre was that, well, he was 38 years old!
Unfortunately for the Raptors, the Olajuwon deal never worked out how Grunwald envisioned it. Olajuwon would play in only 61 games for the Raptors, as a back injury plagued him throughout the entire season. Olajuwon would retire after only one season in Toronto.
However, there was only one problem with the retirement – it was unofficial.
Sure, Olajuwon told the Raptors he was going to retire in 2002. But, he actually did not formally retire until 2004. All the while collecting a cool $17 million from the Raptors while the Rockets retired his number. Ironically enough, the Rockets retired Olajuwon’s number against the Raptors too. Did I mention the Raptors were paying him still too?
Signing Hakeem Olajuwon marked an exciting time in Toronto and showed the fan base that we could in fact lure big name players north of the border. But much like the eventual results of the team, it was just a dream.