Hassan Whiteside finished ninth in the 2015-16 Kia NBA Most Improved Player Award balloting. Although his popularity has not caught up with his accomplishments, Whiteside's sights are set on a more ambitious trophy: the 2016 Larry O'Brien NBA Finals trophy.
Except for members of the Golden State Warriors, the players who received more votes than Whiteside may be home watching Hassan hopefully leading the Heat to playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. Justise Winslow had a great response about how winning fixes many problems. When Gabrielle Union tweeted him about people misspelling his name, he wrote her,
— Justise Winslow (@IAmJustise) June 26, 2015
Constantly snubbed by writers and coaches alike outside of South Florida for the many awards he believed he deserved, Whiteside will get his chance to shine on the national stage to prove his doubters wrong. In fact there is nothing to prove. Championship athletes such as Floyd Mayweather, Michael Jordan and LeBron James care more about bringing home hardware from winning their contests, instead of pleasing critics.
Winning, like revenge, never gets old.
There can be no sweeter payback for Hassan than dominating the opposition in postseason victories, while players who finished ahead of him in the voting pack their bags and go home. By the second round of the "real season," fans will see how many of the popular players will still be helping their teams win games.
The present series versus the Charlotte Hornets presents a special challenge for Hassan to oust the second-place MIP finisher, Kemba Walker, from the playoffs in his own home court. Goran Dragic, winner of the Most Improved Player Award two seasons ago, can tell Hassan which achievement means more to Goran, individual awards or playoff wins?
Awards such the MIP and DPOY are popularity contests gauging a person's likeability. To winners opinions of others don't count. Call them insensitive, but they live to prove their team is second to none.
Once Whiteside drops the need to be accepted (sounds like Dwight Howard), he'll find that eventually winners get the most votes. The Miami Heat brought him to the dance, which could last many years and awards down the road of their partnership.
HOW WARRIORS PLAY BASKETBALL
Two people voted for Draymond Green, who took down HeatNation's beloved Michael Beasley on national TV. Winning it all has become personal for Heat fans. Two games down and 14 more to go until Hassan and the Heat claim the only prize that matters.
2015-16 KIA NBA MOST IMPROVED PLAYER AWARD VOTING
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