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“Man, Can You Imagine If We Ever Got Back Together?” is a song by American singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams. The song was released on March 23, 2014 as the third single from his second studio album “G I R L”. It has since become one of his most popular songs, peaking at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and reaching number one in Canada.
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler have been friends since their undergraduate days at the University of Houston, when the two were part of the legendary Phi Slama Jama teams. Both Hall of Famers have long wished to play together in the NBA.
The Houston Rockets selected Hakeem with the first overall choice in the 1984 NBA Draft, a year after the Portland Trail Blazers selected Drexler. After more than a decade, The Dream and Clyde the Glide were finally given the chance to make up for past mistakes, something they’d both wished for for years.
The Houston Cougars of Phi Slama Jama dominated collegiate basketball but were unable to capture an NCAA championship.
In the early 1980s, the Houston Cougars changed collegiate basketball.
Guy Lewis, the head coach, got into his team’s hyper-athletic attitude by playing at a fast-paced, high-flying speed unlike anything seen in the college levels previously. The Cougars were known as a “dunk fraternity” known as Phi Slama Jama because of their run-and-gun approach.
On those Cougars teams, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler both played key roles. Drexler was a slicing guard who impressed with aerial gymnastics, while Hakeem showed his immense potential as a big player who could run the floor, finish at the rim, or step out and shoot midrange jumpers right away.
During the 1982-83 season, Houston dominated, winning 31 games and attracting national attention. However, their fame backfired when they were shocked to lose to Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State team in one of college basketball’s most dramatic endings.
Drexler left for the NBA that summer, but Olajuwon had one more chance to win an NCAA championship. The Cougars were defeated in the national final game by Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas.
While both Olajuwon and Drexler went on to lead their respective Rockets and Blazers teams to several NBA Finals trips, they were always thinking about what might happen if they ever paired up again.
Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon dreamt of playing together in the NBA.
Tilman Fertitta, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Clyde Drexler (L-R) pose during a game at the Toyota Center on March 28, 2019 in Houston, Texas | Getty Images/Bob Levey
Despite the fact that they were on separate Western Conference teams, Olajuwon and Drexler could only reminisce about the good old days and the tantalizing prospect of playing on the same NBA team.
Former Phi Slama Jama players often discussed reunion in the professional ranks, said to Olajuwon in 2000 (h/t ESPN). If given the chance, both stars seemed to believe they could reach the peak of the sport together.
“Man, can you image if we ever got back together?’ we’d say when we got together. If we did, I’m sure we’d win it all.”
–Hakeem Olajuwon, through ESPN, in 2000.
After failures in 1984 and 1986, the Dream won his first title in 1994 during an MVP season, owing in part to a crucial block in Game 6. Meanwhile, Drexler found himself as an elderly star on a Blazers team that was in the process of rebuilding.
The Glide was able to accomplish his dream of playing alongside Olajuwon and rectify their shortcomings as college teammates because to Portland’s downward spiral.
Drexler and Olajuwon helped the Rockets win the NBA title in 1995.
Early in the 1994-95 season, the Portland Trail Blazers looked like postseason candidates, going 25-20 before the All-Star break. Management, on the other hand, planned to demolish everything, and Drexler wanted out. He had a clear idea of where he intended to go.
Drexler and Tracey Murray were traded to the Rockets in exchange for veteran big man Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and a first-round selection. Clyde and Hakeem were once again teammates.
Initially, the deal didn’t seem to be a good one for Houston. In 35 games, Drexler averaged 21.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while shooting over 50% from the field. The Rockets, on the other hand, finished 18-18 and were the Western Conference’s No. 6 seed into the playoffs. The Phi Slama Jama brothers were barely getting started, so it didn’t matter.
The Rockets began a stunning postseason run. They made it to the Finals after surviving a seven-game series with the Phoenix Suns in the second round, thanks to Olajuwon’s domination against San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson.
Unlike in Houston, Dream and the Glide would complete the task. Olajuwon averaged 32.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists as the Rockets swept the Orlando Magic. Drexler provided crucial scoring and playmaking in the backcourt for Houston, averaging 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in winning his first ring.
Finally, Olajuwon and Drexler shared the floor as NBA champions, putting an end to the agony of their Phi Slama Jama losses.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
Michael Jordan once expressed his ‘great respect’ for the Rockets and questioned if the Bulls could have defeated them in the NBA Finals.
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“Man, Can You Imagine If We Ever Got Back Together?” is a song by American R&B singer Pharrell Williams. The song was released as the first single from his third album “Girl”. Reference: phi slama jama meaning.
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