Is there such a thing as an “overnight success?” Personally, I don’t think so and here’s one example I’d like to share with you about an NBA player who’s journey is a compelling example of my reasoning.
It was just a year ago when Hassan Whiteside was practicing his guard skills at a local YMCA in Charlotte, N.C. The 7 foot, 265 lb Center, now a starter for the Miami Heat, was once in a hollow gym wondering where his next opportunity was coming from. Whiteside actually played in 6 different locations professionally before finding a home in Miami.
According to ESPN’s Player Efficiency Rating, the 25-year-old Whiteside is currently the 10th most impactful player in the NBA. The elite class that stands before him on the list is filled with current and potential all-stars. Whiteside’s presence is an anomaly, as he’s jumped from a low D-league prospect to a high impact player for a playoff contending Eastern Conference Team. Through his long journey, there’s a great deal to learn about persistence and fighting against all odds in pursuit of a sports dream.
Whiteside averaged a respectable 13 pts and over 5 blocks per game during his college career at Marshall University. After coming into college, he declared for the NBA draft just after one year and was drafted by the Sacramento Kings as the 33rd pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
Yes, Whiteside has all of the upside of an ideal NBA center, his talent and size allowed him to lead the nation in blocks during his one season at Marshall. He even charted three triple-doubles in points, rebounds, and blocks on the collegiate level. But team executives across the board put Whiteside’s ability to be a team player and overall determination in question.
After being drafted, Whiteside was soon assigned to the Kings’ D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns. Under the Kings organization, Whiteside was recalled twice during his two years of play. But his rookie year was plagued with a partially torn tendon injury which would sideline him for the rest of that season.
In 2012, Whiteside was waived by the Sacramento Kings and would begin his world tour to an additional 5 teams before finding a home in Miami. Whiteside’s path began would continue on to Sioux Falls, S.D., McAllen, Texas, Des Moines, Iowa, China and even Lebanon.
Five years after entering the NBA as a young, 20 year-old rookie, Whiteside finds himself sharing a locker room alongside NBA greats Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The relentless work ethic and openness to change not only externally but internally has led Whiteside to one of the most reputable organizations in the National Basketball Association.
Under the direction of Hall of Fame coach and executive, Pat Riley, the Miami Heat have established a strong culture and direction that has amounted to both individual and team successes. The Heat organization has also instilled group rules and regulations that force Whiteside to better himself on and off the court. His path to an NBA starting role has been quite a journey but it undoubtedly shows that the fight is never over if the desire is strong enough … and “NO” … There’s no such thing as an “overnight success.”