After retiring from the NBA, Hakeem Olajuwon launched an incredibly successful real estate career

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By all parameters, Hakeem Olajuwon has had a spectacular NBA career. He spent most of his 18-year career with the Houston Rockets. Along the way, he made 12 All-Star teams, 12 All-NBA teams, won an MVP award and was twice Defensive Player of the Year. He also led the Rockets to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, earning two Final MVPs.

Olajuwon was awarded for his solid play with a Hall of Fame nod. He was also named to the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players list, which was chosen by former players and coaches, general managers and members of the media.

After retiring from the league, Olajuwon just continued to impress… just in a different arena. Instead of dominating the basketball court, he’s rocking the real estate world.

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images

Olajuwon began to delve into real estate investing while still playing. At the peak of his career in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he would take a portion of his $ 14 million to $ 16 million annual salary and set it aside for real estate investments. He ultimately earned a little over $ 110 million in salary during his career.

While many former athletes try their hand at real estate, Olajuwon’s faith drives him to approach the industry differently. As a Muslim, Hakeem does not borrow money for his acquisitions (it is against Islamic law to pay or charge interest). It may make shopping a bit more expensive, but it also shows that it has no credit risk. This strategy also puts Olajuwon in better positions during bear markets when indebted borrowers could be squeezed by interest payments.

By 2006, just four years after his retirement, Olajuwon’s 25 investments had reached a value of over $ 100 million.

Olajuwon chose to invest in Houston, where he claims to have “home advantage”.

He specializes in purchasing properties ready for development via public improvements like stadiums or train stops. For example, he buys large plots of undeveloped land near transportation lines and popular highway exits. In November 2006, he bought a 41-acre property near NASA’s Johnson Space Center and turned it into a retirement community. It owns parking garages, apartment complexes, commercial buildings and single-family homes. He bought the old Federal Reserve Bank of Houston building and turned it into a mosque. He owns the old World Trade Center building in the city, not far from the Minute Made Park.

And as we noted, he never uses borrowed money for any of these purchases. He only buys properties with funds that he actually controls. No debt.

In a New York Times profile, Hakeem explained:

“I have been fortunate so far to be able to work with my own capital, which gives me the flexibility to decide when I want to sell instead of having a bank loan hanging over my head which in some case, may force you to sell even though you may not be ready to do so. “

Today, Olajuwon divides his time between Houston and Jordan. He will continue to look for areas in which to invest – and his properties will only continue to rise in value.

These real estate investments led Hakeem Olajuwon to have a net worth of …

$ 300 million

Enough to make him the seventh richest NBA player in the world.


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