Olajuwon, Saying He Is Fit, Demands Trade
Saying he is ready to play, Houston Rocket center Hakeem Olajuwon also said he wants to be traded at the end of the season.
Olajuwon, who has played his entire career at the University of Houston and for the Rockets, said too much has been said in the controversy over his injured left hamstring.
“I’m not coming back for them (management),” Olajuwon said Monday. “It’s for my teammates and the fans, but I would not like to play for the Rockets next season. It’s so obvious after all that’s happened.
“Would you like to work for a management like that, that say all these things? It’s better for everybody to pack at the end of the season.”
Steve Patterson, Rocket general manager, declined comment.
Olajuwon was suspended by the Rockets on March 23 when he refused to play after being cleared by a team physician.
The Rockets believe Olajuwon is faking the injury as a negotiation ploy. Olajuwon has repeatedly denied the allegation and has filed a grievance with the NBA Players Assn.
Olajuwon was suspended for three games, but league rules stipulate that a suspended player must stay out for five games. The Rockets have petitioned the leagues’ other 25 teams to waive the rule.
If 21 teams do not approve of Olajuwon’s early return, the six-time All-Star will have to sit out tonight’s game against the Lakers at Houston and Thursday’s game against Denver. The teams have until 2 p.m. PST today to cast their ballots, giving the Rockets little time to prepare for the Lakers.
“We’re trying to prepare both ways,” said Rocket Coach Rudy Tomjanovich, whose team is battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference behind the Lakers.
“We put in a couple of things on the road, and now we’ve got to get ready to play with or without Hakeem. That’s tough. This is the most important game of the year for us.”
The Rockets are 2-10 this season when Olajuwon has been sidelined. He sat out seven games early in the season because of an irregular heartbeat.