I feel bad for this new generation of NBA fans. So many of them didn’t get a chance to see Hakeem Olajuwan play in his hey day. The man was as smooth as it got on the block. His footwork was sublime. His creativity was mind blowing. His touch was breathtakingly soft. Just go watch this video and take in how spectacular The Dream was.
So it’s no shock that big men everywhere spend their offseasons making a pilgrimage to Dream’s door in an effort to learn a thing or two. Last season it was Dwight Howard, who emerged with a clearly improved offensive game. This season, Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat will be studying under the master.
I asked Gortat about it in New York City today as he prepares for Steve Nash’s annual “Showdown in Chinatown” soccer event. Here’s what he said.
I can only imagine what’s going through Steve Nash’s mind as he sat there listening to Gortat talk about improving his offensive game. “Yeah, no kidding you need to improve.” Gortat is a valuable asset as a defender, rebounder, and guy who does the dirty work. But his offense is mostly relegated to put-backs, dunking or laying in Nash’s lead passes, or occasionally dropping in a jump hook. What Gortat needs to learn is how to create a little something for himself (not much, just enough to get free here and there) and how to get past one guy how might jump out at him on a pick-and-roll.
But Dream was graceful, and Gortat is anything but. The thing Olajuwan will have to work on most with Gortat is getting his feet to work in concert with the rest of him. With Dwight Howard, Dream was working with a guy how had natural agility. Gortat’s agility is summed up by his nickname, “The Polish Hammer”. Gortat’s as graceful as bull seeing red. If Dream can soften that up a bit and make Marcin a little more nimble out there, it will go a long way in helping the Suns find a little offensive outlet where one didn’t exist last season.