Olowokandi in 2006 with Earl Barron.
3 April 1975 |
|Listed height||7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)|
|Listed weight||270 lb (122 kg)|
|NBA draft||1998 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall|
|Selected by the Los Angeles Clippers|
|1998–2003||Los Angeles Clippers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||4,135 (8.3 ppg)|
|Rebounds||3,414 (6.8 rpg)|
|Blocks||697 (1.4 bpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Michael Olowokandi (born 3 April 1975) is a retired professional basketball player. Born in Nigeria and raised in London he attended college on a basketball scholarship at 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.
Olowokandi was born in Lagos, Nigeria; 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, Olowokandi was an athlete in track and field, cricket, and rugby union, and began playing basketball when he was 18.
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, Michael Olowokandi called the basketball office at Pacific in the hopes that he would be accepted. During his junior year, Olowokandi 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. After his senior year, he was drafted with the first overall pick of the 1998 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Because of the 1998–99 NBA lockout, the season in which he was drafted, Olowokandi signed for Italian team Kinder Bologna. 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.
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. 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.
Overall, Olowokandi's professional career was remarkably underwhelming and he has repeatedly been named among the biggest disappointments in NBA history. The Clippers' pick of Olowokandi was particularly unwise as the 1998 NBA draft produced players such as Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Rashard Lewis, and Mike Bibby, all of whom went on to have exceedingly more successful careers than Olowokandi.
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