“The Kandi Man”: Michael Olowokandi



Position: Center


  • University of the Pacific (1995-1998}
  • Los Angeles Clippers (1998-2003)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves (2003-2006)
  • Boston Celtics (2006-2007)


  • Born in Nigeria, raised in London, came to the United States to play college basketball
  • Didn’t start playing basketball until age 17
  • Averaged 22.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.9 blocks per game as a senior at Pacific
  • 1st overall pick of the 1998 NBA Draft
  • Drafted ahead of players like Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Antawn Jamison, Mike Bibby, and Rashard Lewis
  • Averaged just 8.3 ppg over his 9-year career
  • Considered one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history



Olowokandi began his college career in England at Brunel University. In case you are wondering what English college basketball is like, watch Brunel take on Oxford. Olowokandi then transferred to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He was the definition of a “project”, since he didn’t start playing basketball until age 17. In three seasons at Pacific, his progression was outstanding. Here are his year-by-year stats at Pacific (courtesy of ibiblio.org):

95-96 Pacific 10.3 52.6 0.0 55.6 3.4 0.2 0.8 1.3 0.1 4.0
96-97 Pacific 22.8 57.0 0.0 33.3 6.6 0.4 2.2 1.7 0.4 10.9
97-98 Pacific 31.7 60.9 0.0 48.5 11.2 0.8 2.8 2.9 0.3 22.2



Olowokandi’s year-to-year improvement in college, combined with his size, strength, and athleticism, had NBA scouts drooling going into the 1998 NBA Draft. Just how great of a physical specimen was Olowokandi? He stood 7’0″ tall, weighed 265 lbs., bench pressed 350 lbs., leg pressed 1200 lbs., and was a champion triple jumper in high school. Here are some excerpts from his NBA Draft scouting report on ibiblio.org:

  • “…has so much potential…”
  • “…unquestionable work ethic…”
  • “…developed an outstanding turn around jump shot and a baby hook his senior season…”
  • “…can take over down the stretch and score in bunches.”
  • “The Kandi Man definitely can.”
  • “…big hands, active body, quickness, long arms, and is extremely strong…”
  • “…a very intelligent kid…”

The Los Angeles Clippers believed in Olowokandi’s potential enough to select him with the #1 overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft. It was a decision they would later regret.


Olowokandi never came close to being the player the Clippers hoped he would be. He started for them for 5 seasons, but only averaged around 10 points per game. He wasn’t completely worthless, but was certainly a waste of a #1 pick. Sports Illustrated named him the #3 biggest draft bust in NBA history, behind Sam Bowie and Chris Washburn. Wow, how hilarious is the little writeup on Chris Washburn. He will for sure be a future Random Forgotten Player on this site.

After the Clippers, Olowokandi played a couple of seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves before being involved in a huge trade with the Boston Celtics. Nope, not THAT Celtics-Timberwolves trade. I’m speaking of the 2006 trade that sent Olowokandi, Wally Szczerbiak, Dwayne Jones, and a 1st round pick to the Celtics for Marcus Banks, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis, Justin Reed, and two 2nd round picks. At the time, the Celtics were “ecstatic to acquire a player of Wally Szczerbiak’s quality to complement Paul Pierce” (quote from Celtics’ executive Danny Ainge). In hindsight, the humor in that quote is killing me.


Olowokandi’s trade from Minnesota to Boston and the subsequent Kevin Garnett trade between the same two teams led to what I am going to step out on a limb and call the greatest piece of RFP poetry to date. Enjoy this fine limerick about the KG trade:

For Boston the trade comes in handy,

But what makes the Celtics so dandy,

After thinking a while,

KG said with a smile,

“The reunion with Olowokandi!”

I’m not sure if this is the original source of the limerick, but I retrieved it from this collection of limericks about the KG trade. And this gives me a great idea. RFP Limerick Contest!!! Someone start a thread on the forums or send us an email at admin@rfpoftheday.com. If enough people participate I will come up with an RFP-related prize for the winner.

Intentionalfoul.com debates who was the bigger draft bust, Michael Olowokandi or Kwame Brown. It’s a fun read.

Kids love RFP’s!!!


Michael Olowokandi mix:

The NBA: Where Michael Olowokandi Happens

>>Return to RFP Homepage


    One Response to ““The Kandi Man”: Michael Olowokandi”

    1. Thanks for the link-love guys. Fantastic retrospective on the Kandi man.

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