Hassan Whiteside: Is Hassanity The Next Linsanity?


Hassan Whiteside was welcomed to the Miami Heat with open arms at the start of the season, but only recently did the broader basketball world discover how talented the big man is. And although his story is unique, his sudden stardom does hold certain similarities to what was once deemed, “Linsanity.”

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Whiteside came out of Marshall University, gaining national attention after a feature in ESPN magazine. Entering the 2010 NBA draft after just a year, he was a third, second round pick to the Sacramento Kings.

Jeremy Lin spent four years at Harvard and went undrafted that same year. He played in the Summer League and was then picked up by the Golden State Warriors. However, he received little playing time and was sent to the D-League via the Reno Bighorns on three accounts.

Whiteside was also sent to the Bighorns, twice, before being officially waived by the Kings before the 2012-2013 season. He then bounced around in the D-League, before playing in Lebanon.

Lin nursed a knee injury during the 2011 lockout, but played in a handful of games for the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) at the ABA Club Championship. He was waived by the Warriors and claimed by the Houston Rockets, who waived him only a few weeks later.

During his time with the Knicks (2011-2012), Lin became a sensation; he turned around an 8-15 team that had lost 11 of its last 13 games. His 26 game success included averaging 18.5 points and 7.6 assists, a career high 38 points and 7 assists, and a game-winning three-pointer. In his four starts, he averaged 27.3 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 steals.

Whiteside blossomed in 2013 when he joined the Sichuan Blue Whales (a NBL team in China). He took part in 27 games and averaged 25.7 points, 16.6 rebounds, 5.1 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, on 56.4% shooting. He got Defensive Player of the Year and was selected to the All-NBL First Team. They went undefeated in the Playoffs leading up to the NBL Championship and Whiteside was awarded Finals MVP. He then spent some more time in Lebanon before heading back to China, and then finally returned to the NBA via the Memphis Grizzles.

Whiteside did not find much success there. He was waived in October of 2014 and headed back and forth between Memphis and the D-League.

His luck started to change once he was signed by Miami. Although he was assigned to the D-League again, he was recalled two days later and recorded his first career double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks. He then recorded 23 points, 16 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks, stating:

"“It’s different because I got a coach who will play me, so I get to play. You can’t get on the court without a contract. I called the Clippers for a workout, they said no. I called every team for a workout, they said no, except the Heat. The Heat gave me a chance and, I mean, it’s only right for me to give 110 percent effort every time.”"

Since his days with the Knicks, Lin’s fame has died down considerably. Although he was acquired by the Houston Rockets in 2012 (remaining there until 2014 when he was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers), his performance in an 82-game season did not match what he did in a shortened one. The hype created around “Linsanity” was too much pressure and Lin buckled, stating:

"“I’ll be my harshest critic but I’ll go ahead and say it: I’m doing terrible.”"

Since then Lin has continued to struggle, and his glory days long behind him.

As Whiteside seems to be improving, recording his first triple-double against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon, many are concerned that “Hassanity” will too end up crashing and burning. But luckily, the doubt casted upon Miami this season may work in his favor.

Jeremy Lin is not a bad player, and certainly deserves more of a chance than he is receiving. But after being placed on such a high pedestal, the only direction left for him to go in is down.

Conversely, Hassan Whiteside and the rest of the Heat organization are still expected to fail. Whether hated or pitied, it is no secret that those still believing in Miami are few and far between. Although Whiteside may share a similar spotlight as Lin, his journey will seemingly run a different course.

As long as the focus on his talent rises above any other media coverage, “Hassanity” will be just another nickname, and not a failed movement.

Next: Dwyane Wade is the NBA's Top Scorer in the 4th Quarter