When Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon first hit the Houston basketball scene, much was still unknown about his Nigerian roots.
"When you say Africa, people think 'uncivilized,' not wearing clothes," said Olajuwon, a basketball Hall of Famer. "So, that was part of the misconception ... that I came here from the jungle."
The two-time MVP of the NBA Finals described life in Lagos, instead, as a fashion-conscious culture. Long before Olajuwon became a household name on the hardwood, "the Dream" had another dream.
"Growing up in Nigeria, I used to see they take some boutiques, some old houses, refurbish them to make them a boutique," said Olajuwon. "I watched that growing up and said, 'Wow, I would love to have my own store one day.'"
With that end in mind, the West Mansion in Clear Lake has become Hakeem's new home court. There, his patented moves have now become licensed products.
"To me, it's a lifestyle. I had to sit down with the designers about the 'Dream Shake.' The movement. It was amazing, because it was they brought out all the designers in the room, and I had to describe the move for them. I had to describe the move, and how I want to feel when I'm playing on the basketball court."
Not just confining his line to athletic apparel, Olajuwon is now showcasing everything from tailored suits to Dead Sea salts in his store, which can be seen by appointment only.
"It's understated elegance," said Olajuwon. "You wear something that is yours. Not just your face. People complement you, 'I like that.' That's the confirmation that you're communicating correctly."
Communicating his creativity off the court has not only reinvigorated, but perhaps redefined the Rockets legend.