Two of the greatest players ever to come out of Marshall University met at midcourt in Philadelphia Saturday before the Heat’s loss to the 76ers.
Sixers legend Hal Greer, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, was honored by the team before tipoff. After being introduced Hassan Whiteside walked onto the floor to shake his hand.
Two members of the Thundering Herd, 52 years apart.
“He knew who I was,” Whiteside said excitedly after the game. “He was like ‘Whiteside.’ I was like ‘Oh man, you know who I am?’ It was good man.”
Whiteside had never met Greer but everybody who goes through Huntington, W. Va., knows of him, especially if they have ever traveled on Hal Greer Blvd., a 1 ½ mile stretch of road near the Marshall campus.
“I had just seen pictures of him, but I had never seen him in person,” Whiteside said.
“I’m glad I finally got to meet him, shake his hand. He’s one of the top 50 greatest players of all time. It was cool.”
Greer is a 10-time All-Star who was named MVP of the 1968 game. He was a member of the Sixers 1967 title team and his No. 15 is retired by the organization.
Greer is a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
The 7-foot Whiteside was asked if he knew what he had in common with the 6-2 Greer beside their Marshall connection.
“We both jump at the free throw line,” he said. “Yeah, somebody told me. I didn’t even know he did that until after I started doing it.”
But that similarity ends there considering Greer shot 80.1 percent at the free throw line and Whiteside is a 58.7 percent free throw shooter in his career.
Greer witnessed Whiteside score 12 points and grab 19 rebounds in the Heat’s loss to Philadelphia on Saturday, snapping their 13-game winning streak. The run helped the Heat climb back onto playoff contention after losing 30 of their first 41 games.
“We never lost focus,” Whiteside said. “It’s easy to lose focus when you’re 11-30. We fought extremely hard to get where we’re at. So, we’re going to keep fighting to get in the playoffs.”