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HAKEEM'S BAD BACK LEAVES SHAQ PLAYING ONE-ON-NONE
Published September 29, 1995
"The much ballyhooed Taco Bell One-on-One Championship will fall apart like a soggy tortilla at a news conference today when Hakeem Olajuwon announces he is withdrawing from the showdown with Shaquille O'Neal due to a back injury," according to Fran Blinebury in this morning's HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Olajuwon hurt his back last week in London while playing on a promotional tour for the NBA, but the decision to cancel was not made until last night when it was clear the injury was not responding to treatment. The event, with $1M in prize money on the line, was scheduled to take place at Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City and be shown on pay-per-view. Olajuwon, who participated in an afternoon media event in New York and several national conference calls yesterday: "I'm extremely disappointed. I was looking forward to the challenge. I thought it would be fun." One source: "He feels embarrassed after all the talk and the build- up." There were two preliminary matches scheduled -- Nick Van Exel vs. Kenny Anderson and Joe Smith vs. Kevin Garnett -- but the CHRONICLE's Blinebury reports, "With Olajuwon injured, Taco Bell is now expected to cancel the whole enchilada" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/29). Taco Bell had taken a full-page ad in USA TODAY this morning.