The Miami Heat has had something of an inconsistent season. While the team has struggled to find some coherence trying to overcome mediocre play and injuries, hope may have come in the form of a seven-foot journeyman who is capable of head-butting skyscrapers and obliterating basketballs like flies.
Hassan Whiteside, a 25-year-old former castoff, has emerged as the Heat's biggest surprise this season. And on Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, he was unleashed to the rest of the basketball world, recording a triple-double by blocking 12 shots, grabbing 13 rebounds, and scoring 14 points, leading the Heat to a 96-84 victory
Heat fans have already warmed up to Whiteside prior to Sunday's game. While his minutes have been sparse, his high-energy style and ability to rebound and block shots and change the overall momentum of games has made Heat Nation sit up and take notice.
Whiteside has bounced around the world, playing pro ball in China and Lebanon, and ultimately was relegated to being a D-League castoff. But then the Heat gave him a shot and signed him in November. And he's rewarded its faith by being a total rock star on the basketball court.
On Sunday, on the road against a championship-contending Bulls team, Whiteside basically destroyed any shot that dared cross his path, swatting shots like Godzilla did Mothra, and basically drop-kicking in the throat the Bulls' hopes of an easy win.
Taj Gibson felt the brunt of Whiteside's wrath, being blocked five times. No other team has blocked Gibson five times this season.
Anything that even remotely resembles a basketball comes near him, Whiteside immediately incinerates it, attacking it with the ferocity of a category 5 hurricane and swatting shots away with the force of an F5 tornado.
The block party didn't just help the Heat get an important road win; it also shattered some records. In Sunday's game alone, Whiteside set a Heat single-game franchise record with his 12 blocked shots. He also became the first player in Heat history to record a triple-double with blocked shots and is the first player with at least 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 blocks in a single game since 1997.
And while he's got an awshucks manner to him, he's also not afraid to talk some shit whenever it's appropriate.
Asked after the game how it felt to face Joakim Noah for the first time, the cocky rookie allegedly responded, "Ask Noah how he feels about facing Hassan Whiteside for the first time."
And asked what motivated his performance, Whiteside said he just wanted to get his NBA2K rating up.
Hassan Whiteside has arrived.
You've been warned, Universe.
Whiteside: "I told Coach Spo I wanted to be the defensive anchor here. They gave me the chance that nobody else would."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 25, 2015