A month ago, 25-year-old Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside was looking like he wasn’t long for the NBA. Over 19 total career games with the Sacramento Kings in 2010 through 2012 and very few minutes, the seven-footer hadn’t earned himself a solidified spot in the pros — not even on the end of benches.
He’d been out of the league for the better part of two seasons when this January happened. Miami’s reclamation project has boomed as Whiteside is suddenly looking like one of the most dominant big men in the league. No performance more clearly announced Hassan’s arrival more than his triple-double against the Chicago Bulls yesterday afternoon, on national TV.
Whiteside led the Heat to an impressive 96-84 victory, collecting 14 points, 13 rebounds and an otherworldly 12 blocks in just 25 minutes. No player has ever tallied a triple-double including blocks in so few minutes. He also took the cake in the category of post-game interviews, referencing his NBA 2K numbers right after his performance:
In January, Whiteside has shot 72 percent from the floor, averaging 12.1 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 21.4 minutes per game — I want to play that video game. His overwhelming presence in the lane has added some stability to Miami’s attack in a transitional year, and drastically changed the future outlook for his franchise. While Whiteside’s unbelievable play of Sunday afternoon is not likely to be maintained, he certainly looks like the Heat’s best starting center since Alonzo Mourning.
“Hassanity” has become the buzzword for Whiteside’s surge into basketball’s mainstream, and it’s an appropriate one. Not since Jeremy Lin’s flurry of clutch scoring in 2012 has a player burst out of obscurity with such force. Stay tuned as one of the season’s best stories continues.
— John Wilmes