Everyone loves a good story. That's why in 2012, when Jeremy Lin brought life to the New York Knicks with his incredible play, the media ran with it and made Linsanity. But what happens when someone is doing something on par with that, but hasn't been recognized to the same degree?
Here we take a look at what Linsanity was all about, and the new feel-good story of Hassan Whiteside, Hassanity.
Linsanity lasted for 26 games in 2012, starting from February 4th when he scored 25 points in 36 minutes -- his first double digit scoring game of the season and only his third of his career. And it ended on March 24th, when he played his last game before sitting out the rest of the season with a knee injury.
The Knicks won their first 7 games with Linsanity underway, including a 38 point game from Lin in a win over the Lakers. The Knicks went 16-10 over the time Lin was playing. 11 times he scored 20+ points and seven times he racked up 10+ assists.
Side note: We all remember the one right on the middle of Linsanity, right? The one where it came to Miami and the Heat point guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole put the breaks on Linsanity and began it's downward spiral. They held Lin to 8 points and 1 field goal and forced him into 8 turnovers. It started a streak of 7 losses in 8 games for the Knicks and Linsanity.
But over the coarse of those 26 games, Lin averaged 18.4 PPG. Before he got to Miami, he was averaging 23.9 PPG when the wheels started to come off a bit. Linsanity was a major hit. It was talked about everywhere. It wasn't just the numbers, it was how he was doing it. There was an element of flash and sizzle happening, and...you know it happened in New York!
After Lin got hurt, he didn't play again that season. The Knicks got rocked by the Heat in the playoffs on their way to the championship and Lin waited for free agency when he signed with the Houston Rockets. Things didn't work out to plan there and Lin was traded to the Lakers last offseason.
Hassan Whiteside joined the Miami Heat in November on 2014. He hadn't played in an NBA game in a few years, yet the Heat dropped veteran swingman Shannon Brown to pick him up. Were they ever right! It took Spoelstra about 5 weeks before he knew what he had one his hands. Since December 27, Whiteside hasn't gone a game without getting double digit minutes.
That's a span of two months and 23 games (he's missed 3 games to injury). During that time Whiteside has averaged 12.5 PPG. But he's also averaged 11 RPG...and 2.8 BPG. That includes the impressive triple double against the Chicago Bulls where Whiteside had 14 points, 13 rebounds and 12 blocks.
Whiteside worked his way into the Heat's starting lineup and seems like he is there to stay. Miami was also fortunate enough to lock Hassan up at a minimal contract for the following season, so he'll be in a Heat uniform for at least one more year to come.
Less impressive numbers overall? Probably so...
Who's Sanity was/is better?
There's no doubt that Jeremy Lin's media starved attention had more drama in it than what Whiteside has seen. Carmelo Anthony elevated that when he came back and demanded the ball from Lin, and things quickly fell apart. Lin was a sensation and because he stepped out while the ball was still rolling, it created a free agent market for him that did him well.
We've seen what Lin has done since then.
But it also seems like Whiteside's numbers are more sustainable and reasonable. There was a crave in the media for a short amount of time the pinnacled around the triple double, but it certainly hasn't been to the level of Jeremy Lin. What has been the most impressive thing about Whiteside is that even when he isn't having a flashy night with alley-oops and monster dunks or crazy blocks, he's still ending up with very solid numbers.
It's not uncommon now for Whiteside to go pretty much unnoticed and before you look and realize he has 10 points and 10 rebounds. We started this with seeing Hassan get rebounds, put-backs and oops. Now, he's shown us he can score in the post, hit a mid-range shot (occasionally), and actually be semi-productive from the free throw line (although improvement is needed).
He's much more skilled that any of us thought he ever would be. And with a summer and extended workouts with the Heat training staff, it's not unreasonable to think Whiteside could come in next season and average 16 PPG and 12 RPG. In fact, for the month of February he is averaging 14.3 PPG and 12.7 RPG.
Jeremy Lin brought the dazzle to a cinderella story. Hassan Whiteside is doing the dirty work to be a dominant force for the long run.