NBA

Hassan Whiteside’s Miraculous Journey

Imagine dealing with a knee injury that ended your rookie season. Then imagine everyone else giving up on you, not even getting workout’s when you’ve tried everywhere and every team to try to get a chance to live your dream. This is what Hassan Whiteside had to deal with, not being able to get a chance, and not being able to prove himself for years.

Hassan Whiteside’s journey is the fell good story in the NBA this season, as he really started to get tons of national attention after he had a triple double versus the Chicago Bulls on January 25th. Whiteside had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 rebounds in the game. His story, however goes much deeper then just one moment.

Whiteside grew up in Gastonia, North Carolina he lived with his mother and six other siblings. While living with his mom in North Carolina he attend the high schools Hunter Huss, Ashbrook, and Forestview. For his junior year of high school, Whiteside moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he attended East Side High school.

Whiteside averaged 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 5.5 blocks while at East Side. He then moved back to North Carolina  for the 2007-2008 school year. Whiteside attended Hope Christian Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2008-2009, Whiteside started to get noticed. He was playing prep basketball at The Patterson School, in which he lead Patterson to a 34-2 record, plus a number one national ranking.

Whiteside was ranked as the 19th best center and the 87th best player coming out of high school. Whiteside chose to attend college at Marshall University. He picked Marshall over Kentucky, Auburn, Charlotte, South Carolina, and Mississippi State. Whiteside came into the college basketball season as one of the NCAA’s most underrated players, but it wasn’t to long before he ended up getting national attention.

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Whiteside appeared in the December 28th addition of ESPN The Magazine. Whiteside appeared in the magazine after his 14 point, 17 rebound, 9 block game against the Ohio Bobcats on November 28th. On December 12th, Whiteside recorded the first triple double in Marshall school history, scoring 17 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and swatting 11 shots. The game was the lead factor in Marshall’s 104-54 win over the Brescia Bearcats.

Whiteside broke the C-USA record for most blocks in a single season with 182 blocks. He also broke the Marshall record for most career blocks and blocks in a single season with the same number, in just one season at Marshall. On March 29th, 2010, Whiteside declared for the NBA Draft after averaging 13.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 5.4 blocks per game at one season at Marshall.

Draft Day:

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Whiteside was selected with the 3rd pick in the 2nd round of the 2010 NBA Drat (33rd overall), by the Sacramento Kings. Whiteside then signed a four-year 3.8 million dollar contract. The first two years were worth a guaranteed 1.7 million.

Call up to the NBA:

After Whiteside was assigned to the Kings D-League affiliate the Reno Bighorns on November 29th, 2010, he was re-called by the Team a month and a half later on January 9th.

Knee injury:

On March 5th,2011, Whiteside underwent surgery to repair a partially torn tendon in his left knee. The injury kept him sidelined for the remainder of his rookie season, after only playing one game of it, in which he played just two minutes.

Year 2:

In Whiteside’s second year with the Kings, he was assigned to the Kings D-League team once again in January 2012, then recalled on February 4th. Whiteside appeared in 18 games with the Kings during the 2011-2012 season, as he averaged 1.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and .8 blocks per game. The Kings waived him on July 16th, 2012 after just 19 games with the team.

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On December 14th, 2012, the Sioux Sky Force of the NBA’s Development League (current Miami Heat D-League affiliate) acquired Whiteside. On January 4th, 2013, the Sky Force traded Whiteside to Rio Grande Valley Vipers, were he spent the rest of the NBA D-League season.

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Whiteside signed with the Sichuan Blue Whales of the NBL (China). In 27 games with the Blue Whales, Whiteside averaged 25.7 points, 16.6 rebounds, 5.1 blocks, and 1.4 steals per game. Whiteside won the NBL’s defensive player of the year award, the center of the year award, and was selected to the all NBL first team. He lead the Blue Whales to an undefeated playoffs, winning the league championship. Whiteside was named Finals MVP.

In November 2013, Whiteside joined the LBL, where he signed with Al Mouttahed Tripoli. The Tripoli released him in April 2014. Whiteside then went back to China, where he signed with the Jiangsu Tongxi. Whiteside left the Tongxi after 17 games, for another chance in the NBA.

On September 25th, 2014, Whiteside signed with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies however waived Whiteside almost exactly one month after they signed him on October 22nd, 2014. On October 30th, 2014 the Rio Grande Valley Vipers reacquired Whiteside. Two days later, he was traded to the Iowa Energy. Whiteside officially joined the Energy November 14th. 5 days later, Whiteside re-signed with the Grizzlies, but the Grizzlies waived him the very next day. Whiteside returned to the Iowa Energy on November 22nd.

Whiteside finally gets a chance:

Issac Baldizon
Issac Baldizon

On November 24th, 2014, the Miami Heat finally Gave Hassan Whiteside a chance. The Heat sent Whiteside to the D-League on December 13th, but recalled him two days later. January 4th, 2015 is when Hassanity begins. Whiteside recorded his first NBA double double versus the Brooklyn Nets, as he scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and blocked 5 shot’s in the Heat’s 88-84 win.

A week after his first career double-double, Whiteside scored 23 points with 16 rebounds and 2 blocks versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers were one of many teams who Whiteside called and was not even given a workout. On January 25th, 2015 Whiteside had the game of his career. In the Heat’s 96-84 win over the Chicago Bulls, Whiteside scored 14 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and blocked 12 shots in the win. In the game, Whiteside became the the 4th player in the last 25 seasons in the NBA to record 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 blocks in a game. Whiteside also became the first player since Manute Bol to record 12 blocks in less then 25 minutes off the bench.

On February 4th, 2015 Whiteside scored a career high 24 points with 20 rebounds on 12-13 shooting. His 90% shooting in the game and the 20 points and 20 rebounds makes him only one of 4 players in NBA history to do that.

Whiteside has a unique motivation as you might have heard, by him trying to get his NBA 2k rating up, but there’s also more than just video game ratings behind that statement.

 “I got a chip on my shoulder. Everybody in the NBA saying no to me.” – Hassan Whiteside

“I called the Clippers for a workout, they said no. I called every team for a workout. They said no. Except the Heat. And the Heat gave me chance, and its only right for me to give 110% effort every time. It means a lot, like I said I called every team. Its crazy I’m on a team name called the Heat cause there’s always a flame in me, so I always try to come in and prove people wrong.” – Whiteside

Hassan’s success story has made him a Miami Heat fan favorite. He’s jersey is in virtually every store in South Beach, and at a recent autograph session he had, thousands of Heat fans came out to meet Whiteside.

”It feels like I’m living a dream,” Hassan Whiteside said. ”A couple months ago, I couldn’t even get anybody to look at me. It’s crazy. It’s just a dream I never want to wake up from and every day I come to the arena I just feel blessed. Even when I started my first game, I was like ‘Wow.’ You just look up and have to soak it all in.”

The praise comes from several other players and coaches across the league as well.

”He’s big and he plays big,” Dwyane Wade said. ”He protects the basket for us, he catches it and he finishes it. If he keeps doing that he will have a long, successful career.”

“Keep dunking and blocking shots and that’ll be $60 million,” Danny Granger said.

”Sometimes it takes the right team, the right opportunity, the right frame of mind, all of it working together,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”We’d gotten to know him over the last four years. We’d brought him in enough. I met with him extensively, for an hour, after the workout this year and there was something about how he responded, how he looked me in the eye, that I believed him.”

Whiteside isn’t really mad about teams giving up on him as he understands why.

”It just doesn’t work out with some organizations,” said Whiteside. ”Coach Spo, he really gave me a chance, just with the minutes. When they give players a chance, they’re really all-in. They’re invested.”

Whiteside has a few goals in mind for himself as well. One of them is to average a double double, which is very close to right now, averaging 10.8 points, and 9.6 rebounds, with the stats not updated from Whiteside’s career high 25 rebounds versus the Lakers.

“I worked out for the Lakers. I thought they could use me. I guess not.”

Another one of Whiteside’s goals is to become a top three shot blocker in the NBA, which he may already be.

Whiteside is mostly humble about the chance to play again with the Miami Heat, by the look of some of the tweets he posts on social media. He shows tremendous respect towards Miami’s star players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Whiteside also loves the Miami Heat fans:

Whiteside also reaches out to people he doesn’t know.

Dwyane Wade is/one of Whiteside’s biggest supporters. It’s nothing but praise from D-Wade on Whiteside.

“It’s like when I grew up in the hood one year, waking up like, “We got Christmas?!” – Wade on Whiteside

“He’s what you call special. He’s so long, everything that gets off the rim he has it. He’s for real about what he does. He protects the basket and when he gets mad he’ll dunk on everybody. He’s very, very important to this team’s success.”

When Whiteside was in high school he was watching Dwyane Wade throw alley-oops to Shaquille O’Neal. It’s hard to imagine yourself being in the same exact place Shaq was 9 years into the future, but it happened, and everyone in South Beach is loving them some Whiteside.

Next time people give up on you, or tell you that you can’t do something, use their hate comments as motivation, work hard, and strive for greatness. Then maybe one day you’ll be talking about getting your video game ratings up.

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