Q&A: Hassan Whiteside says he trained ‘like Rocky’

Hassan Whiteside is on the brink of cashing in after pulling together an impressive season for the Miami Heat. (Getty Images)
Hassan Whiteside is on the brink of cashing in after pulling together an impressive season for the Miami Heat. (Getty Images)

The Hassan Whiteside YMCA-to-NBA story hasn’t gotten old yet, and he continues to climb higher than anybody but believed was possible. He has turned into one of the Heat’s best players and is set to collect a massive payday in a few months.

Coming off his career-high 27 points against Brooklyn, here’s an interview with Miami’s Defensive Player of the Year candidate:

Do you ever stop and think about how absurd your story is?
Whiteside: “Yeah, all the time. I think about it a lot. Some days I feel like this might just be a really long dream that I’m gonna wake up from eventually. But when you work hard for something and you hope it works out a certain way, and when it do, it’s really gratifying.”

Do you look around at Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade and think about how crazy this all is?
Whiteside: “I don’t think they realize how crazy this is, either. The first time I ever saw D. Wade in person was in the locker room. I didn’t know what he looked like in person. I’m working for Pat Riley and Alonzo Mourning and working out with Juwan Howard — I’ve seen documentaries on these people. I just try to take in as much as I can.”

How much did the possibility of making incredible money drive you to this point?
Whiteside: “When you’re a little kid, you never know how much money these guys make. You just know they’re on TV. You don’t crunch the numbers. I just knew I wanted to succeed in this dream. The money is great, of course, but you can’t just go chase that. I know what I do on the court, and if we win that’s all gonna happen.

“It’ll help me do things to better myself and finally get to do some things I’ve wanted to do, different things like going to train at places I couldn’t afford. I couldn’t afford them places. That’s why I was working out at the Y. I could get a nutritionist and a chef. I could get a massage therapist. Stuff I could use to better myself that are a little hard for me right now.”

When you were playing in Lebanon and China and training at the YMCA, how much worse did it need to get before you’d quit?
Whiteside: “I don’t know, man. The places I was at, I felt like I was dominating and winning MVP of those leagues, so I still felt like I was working up toward something. It’s not like I felt I couldn’t play or I was playing terrible.”

As confident as you are, did you ever expect to be in this position?
Whiteside: “I kinda hoped it’d be like this, but I never thought they’d be talking about the free agency numbers and all that stuff like they are. That all happened really quick. The preparation took so long, but my time here has been quick. When you’ve been training like Rocky, when it’s finally time to fight the Russian, you ready. When I got my Heat contract, it was time to fight the Russian.”

[How serious is Justise Winslow’s knee injury?]

[Is Dwyane Wade joking about this Kobe Bryant thing?]

[Wade, veteran Heat players in surprisingly great shape for this time of year]

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