By all metrics, Hakeem Olajuwon is believed to have had a spectacular NBA career. He spent almost all of his 18-year career with the Houston Rockets. During that time, he made 12 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Star teams, was a 2-time Defensive Player of the Year, and won an MVP award. He also managed to lead the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, picking up two Finals MVPs in the process.
Hakeem Olajuwon got rewarded for his strong play with a Hall of Fame nod. Also, he was added to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list, which was selected by former coaches and players, media members, and general managers.
After he retired from the league, Olajuwon has just continued to impress… but in a different arena. Instead of being a dominant force on the basketball court, he is now rocking the real estate world.
Olajuwon began testing the real estate market while he was still an active player. At the top of his career in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he would consider taking some of his $14-16 million in yearly salary and putting it aside for real estate investment. He eventually earned a little more than $110 million in salary in his entire career.
While most former athletes try their luck in real estate, Olajuwon’s faith enables him to approach the sector differently. Being a Muslim, Hakeem avoids borrowing money for his acquisitions. It is against Islamic law to pay or charge any interest.
This strategy can make purchases a little more expensive. However, it also means that he does not have any credit risks. That method also put Olajuwon in a great position during down markets when the debt-laden borrowers may get pinched by interest payments.
By 2006, around four years after his retirement, his 25 investments had expanded to be worth over $100 million. Hakeem Olajuwon has chosen to invest in Houston where he insists to be enjoying the ‘home-court advantage.’
He primarily specializes in purchasing properties that are ideal for development through public improvements like train stops and stadiums. For instance, he purchases huge undeveloped plots of land near transportation lines and budding highway Exits.
In November 2006 he purchased a 41-acre property located near NASA’s Johnson Space Center and decided to develop it into a retirement community. Today, he owns apartment complexes, single-family homes, parking garages, and commercial buildings.
He bought Houston’s former Federal Reserve Bank building and changed it into a mosque. Also, Olajuwon owns the city’s former World Trade Center building near Minute Made Park. As noted earlier, he does not use any borrowed funds for any of these acquisitions. He just purchases properties with money that he controls. No debts.
Hakeem highlighted in a recent New York Times profile:
“I have been blessed thus far to be able to work with my own capital, which gives me the ability to decide when I want to sell as opposed to having a bank loan hanging over my head that in some cases, can force you to sell even though you may not be ready to.”
For now, he splits his time between Jordan and Houston. He plans to keep seeking areas available for investment opportunities and his properties will only continue appreciating. These real estate investments have enabled Olajuwon to have a net worth of $300 million.
That is enough net worth to make him the seventh-richest NBA player in the entire world.