This has not been the easiest season for Miami Heat fans -- things haven't gone according to plan thus far. Someone is always injured. The team is fighting just for the last playoff seeds in the East. Birdman keeps spraining things. It's been a rough first third of the year. The LeBron hangover reached morning-after-a-cheap-tequila-shot-competition levels this past week during the Heat's four-game losing streak.
Thankfully, the NBA D-League gods have granted the Heat seven-foot center Hassan Whiteside, saving the Heat's entire 2014-15 season. OK, well, maybe just the past week or so -- but this dude is coming on quick.
While the Heat was attempting a three-peat last season, Whiteside was playing professional basketball in Lebanon. Now he's here, in a Miami Heat uniform, wrecking opponent ass around the rim.
Whiteside had his best game in a Heat uniform in last night's 88-84 win over the Brooklyn Nets. His 11-point, 10-rebound effort was his first double-double as a pro, and he became just the third player in franchise history to record a double-double (points and rebounds) and five blocks in less than 30 minutes. The others? Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning. Not bad company, not bad company at all.
Again, this guy was playing in China and Lebanon only a few months ago, and now he's going all young Kevin Garnett on the Brooklyn Nets.
Whiteside is contributing more than empty highlights, though. He's making a big impact in games and gaining the team's trust, which has resulted in more minutes of game time. Last night, with the Heat clinging to a six-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Nets guard Deron Williams tried to bring that weak sauce. Whiteside promptly sent Williams' shot attempt directly into some rich dude's lap in the first row. Hassan chop!
If Whiteside reminds you of someone, he should -- that's exactly the look he's going for. After the game, Whiteside told Sun Sports' Jason Jackson that when he first arrived to work out for Miami, he told coach Erik Spoelstra, when picturing his future impact on the team, he had a certain ex-Heat hall-of-famer in mind.
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I concur. this sounds like a splendid idea, young fella -- let's brainstorm more on how to make this happen. I'll go start the GoFundMe in case.
In a season that's had more downs than ups, it looks like Heat fans have something to cling to in terms of hope for the future. We thought it might be James Ennis or Shabazz Napier who would inject promising youthful play into this team, but so far the most impressive play by a fresh-faced newcomer has come from Whiteside.