The depth of the NBA offseason is sometimes when the wildest stories of years gone by come out.
Enter 13-year NBA veteran Vernon Maxwell, who went on the “No Chill with Gilbert Arenas” podcast and retold the story of a wild halftime fight between himself and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon. It’s a story Maxwell told before on “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” podcast (hat tip to Matt Young for the reminder).
The Rockets were on the road in Seattle playing the Supersonics and had a terrible first half, as Maxwell tells it. Maxwell was complaining to teammates he wasn’t getting enough touches — he even spat on the floor — and when Olajuwon got word of it, he walked over and slapped Maxwell across the face, in the locker room in full view of their teammates. We’ll pick up Maxwell’s commentary from there:
“I said, ‘Goddamn, this motherf***** slapped the s*** out of me.’ That motherf***** hit me so hard, man, knocked me out the chair. I jumped up, grabbed my chair, and throwed it at [that] motherf*****, bust the glass in the locker room. Everybody running out. Police come in with the guns drawn, like ‘What the hell goin’ on in here?’
“I was like, ‘Damn, they got the guns on me at a professional halftime.’ At a professional game.”
Maxwell also said on the pod he picked up a piece of glass and planned to stab Olajuwon, but the police came in, then the game restarted, and he never did it.
I don’t remember trying to stab anyone but if I did it was out of love. https://t.co/IvGN5LqyQS
— Vernon Maxwell (@VernonMaxwell11) January 2, 2022
Maxwell said the vibe and Olajuwon changed after he converted and became a Muslim.
“After that, he became Muslim. He was so quiet. So humble. So, [he] wanted me to become Muslim. I couldn’t do it. But, he was a great teammate after that.”
Maxwell and Olajuwon went on to win two titles together with the Rockets. Olajuwon was an iconic big man who eventually tutored future generations on footwork in the post. The Maxwell halftime story probably didn’t come up in those sessions.