The NBA is the perfect theater for making childhood dreams come true, but the NBA also has the particularity of sometimes turning off the light even faster than it turned it on. Off-peak times oblige, this summer we are looking at names that are familiar to us, some more than others, names that “mean something to us” but which no longer really make the first headlines. Stories that bring back a sweet melancholy. Cold Case Closed Cases but NBA version, with the ambition to give you some news of these guys who were once part of our daily lives. Seventh episode? A Tanzanian who has never managed to win in the Big League: Hasheem Thabeet.
If some manage to bounce back after a complicated stint in the NBA, others never seem to be able to come back to the surface. Hasheem Thabeet unfortunately falls into the second category. And even if the news is not necessarily good, it is still important to get some. Get ready, because we’re not going to split the margoulette today.
If we had to choose a single NBA player to represent the exact opposite of a feel good story, Hasheem Thabeet would undoubtedly be a more than serious candidate for the position. And for good reason, the story of one of the biggest busts in the history of the Great League is not necessarily pretty to listen to… or tell. But for the ending to be so disappointing, the beginning has to be promising, and it was. Having started basketball at the age of 15, the Tanzanian did not arrive in the United States until high school. A little late to be spotted, no? Most of the time, we would have tended to answer you yes, but as the pivot measures 2m21 for 119 kg, we admit that it was difficult for him to go unnoticed. While it is not even nationally ranked, the latter receives quite a few offers from several major universities. In the end, it is in Connecticut that the giant will land, to play with the UConn Huskies. Each year, the boy will progress, until being named National Defensive Player of the Year and in the All-America Second Team during his third and final season in the NCAA., where he averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 points and 4.2 blocks. A hype settles quietly, while waiting for the 2009 Draft, to which the latter decides to present himself.
Second. This is the position in which Hasheem will be selected (by Memphis). Just after Blake Griffin, indisputable number one of this cuvée. Further away ? Boys like James Harden, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, DeMar DeRozan… Oh boy. It’s a surprise, even for the player, who quite masterfully becomes the first Tanzanian to join the NBA. An immense pressure, which our friend clearly will not bear. Let’s be clear: there’s not much to take away from the giant’s move to the Big League, so no need to spend a lot of time there. After two years in Memphis where he achieves nothing or very little, the native of Dar es Salaam is sent to Houston, then to Portland, before finally ending up in Oklahoma City. There, Hasheem will find a little smile with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He notably recorded his best career game there with a 13/10/2/2/4 in 27 minutes during a blowout against the Bobcats (114-69) – ugh…just imagine the purge it must have been – but still fails to convince. Traded in Philadelphia, which cut him in stride, the latter ended his NBA career by being signed and then cut again by Detroit, before joining the D-League for around fifty games. With averages of 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds in 224 games, Thabeet’s career has obviously never been up to a number two pick in the Draft. Asked by Marc J. Spears in 2016 for Andscapethe latter also returned to this status having weighed a lot in the failure of the man, who considers himself a victim of his own selection:
“I could never control how I was drafted. I hadn’t asked for anything. I hadn’t even done a workout with Memphis. So, I’m drafted, and everyone expects something. Five years in the US, and I’m already one of the biggest picks in the Draft… I’m like: ‘is it really happening?’ One year ago [lorsqu’il est coupé par Detroit, ndlr.], I was broken. Nothing was right. Coming into the League as the No. 2 pick, I feel like a lot of things were thrown in my face. I was attacked, I heard “he doesn’t do what he should do”. I felt like I was stuck, like all the attention was locking me up. It all happened so fast. I was down, everything I was doing was wrong, people had very high expectations, and I didn’t know what I was getting into. »
Wow, difficult to remain insensitive to this kind of testimonials, which make us realize that being in the light can very quickly become heavy. Especially since things are not necessarily going to work out afterwards. Absent from the field for two years… because no one wants him, Hasheem continues to work in his corner with Frank Matrisciano, his personal coach. And as no NBA franchise seems ready to give him a chance, the pivot will leave for Japan, where the Yokohama B-Corsairs offers him a contract. With about 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on average, Thabeet manages to show great things in the weak Japanese league, which he will leave at the end of the 2017-18 season. It was then that the big man was able to believe in the American dream again by signing in the G League with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in 2019. Result? Only eight games before being cut because Hasheem is just playing badly. And even if franchises like the Nuggets, Bucks, Warriors, Knicks and Sixers organize workouts with the latter, we have to face the facts: Thabeet does not have the level to play in the NBA.
To At this point, many would have already decided to end their careers and turn to coaching or a consulting role, but not Hasheem. No, no question of giving up like that, the giant will fight until the end, even if no one wants him. In 2020, he signs with the Hsinchu JKO Lioneers, in Taiwan, where he will undoubtedly have the best season of his professional career. Compiling 18.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks, the latter will become Defender of the Year. It’s a line on his CV, but worth almost nothing considering the weakness of the Taiwanese league. To At the time, his agent Jerry Dianis even tried to use this successful season to once again catch the eye of NBA scouts: ” Hasheem is eager to help an NBA franchise that needs athleticism and size off the bench. I have no doubt that he will be flooded with opportunities all over the world“. Missed. In reality, the boy will just sign a contract in October 2021 with the Tainan TSG GhostHawks… but will never play for them. The reason ? No idea, the team coach simply indicating two months later that Thabeet will “probably not” join them. Good point man, because there is indeed no trace of our friend there. At the beginning of 2022, other rumors announced our friend at the Fujian Sturgeons, a team from the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), through which boys like Christian Wood or Amar’e Stoudemire have passed:
“Hasheem is the best hoop protector on the planet. China has 1.4 billion people and he can’t wait to play at that level. His ultimate goal is to return to the NBA, something that could happen this year. –Jerry Dianis
Spoiler: there is still no trace of any match of Hasheem Thabeet with the Sturgeons, nor the slightest start of rumor announcing a potential return of the latter in the Great League. And then as for the fact that it could be “the best hoop protector on the planet”, thanks for the giggles huh. The reality is above all that the 35-year-old retired a few months ago. Wanting to stay close to his family but also to pass on the passion for basketball to the children of his country, Hasheem explains that he has no regrets about his career, he who believes he has given everything to this sport he loves. To find it, the only indication that we can provide you would be to participate in a camp in Tanzania, something that is not so easy to do, we grant you. One can however note that the latter would have been seen on American land this summer, in the company of Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. Who knows, maybe he didn’t really give up?
PG at the PRO RUN with Russ, Victor Oladipo, and Harrison Barnes 🔥
(via austinjaustinj/IG) pic.twitter.com/y3wTk1ChMy
— Overtime (@overtime) August 3, 2022
Hasheem Thabeet is easily one of the biggest disappointments in the history of the Big League. And if we logically want to show compassion towards the Tanzanian, let’s not forget that the latter still had time to earn more than 16 million dollars during his five years spent in the NBA. Finally, it’s not all bad to be a bust.
Text sources: Andscape / Hoopsrumors / Clutch Points / Sporting News / Basketball Reference / ProBallers