Whiteside adds name to list of Heat’s greatest individual performances
The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside wasn’t even a sure thing to play against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
He looked like he was moving well in pregame warmups (then again, that was also the case Friday before the Indiana Pacers game and he was still held out for a second time with a sprained right ankle).
What followed was one of the most impressive performances from a Heat player… ever: 14 points, 13 rebounds and a franchise-record 12 blocks in only 25 minutes.
The fact that it came off the bench wasn’t even the most jaw-dropping aspect of it.
He’s the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks in 25 or less minutes, according to Elias. He had five blocks by halftime and added five more in the fourth quarter. He blocked poor Taj Gibson alone five times.
All of this in just the 37th NBA game of his career.
The previous franchise record was nine blocks set by Alonzo Mourning multiple times, most recently in 2005. Had Whiteside played more minutes, he might have had a chance of breaking the team franchise record of 15 set in 1999.
But where does it rank among the greatest individual performances in the Heat’s rich history?
Let’s look at the contenders, in no particular order:
RONY SEIKALY, MARCH 4, 1993
The Heat’s first-ever big man sensation eclipsed his own franchise record for rebounds with an amazing 34 in a win against the Washington Bullets that stands to this day.
Seikaly had 15 by halftime and eventually outrebounded the entire Bullets team before leaving the game with less then five minutes to play.
"It’s really a mind set I put myself into," he told the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman after the game. "I was in a trance, a rebounding trance. It seemed like the ball always was bouncing my way."
LEBRON JAMES, MARCH 3, 2014
James would make his mark in the Heat franchise record books with a career-high 61 points against the Charlotte Bobcats on this day in basketball history.
He contributed seven rebounds and four assists as well but no one noticed as he proceeded to convert his first eight baskets on the way to shooting 22-of-33 from the field, 8-of-10 three-pointers, and 9-of-12 free throws to get to 61. The 22 field goals made and his 37 points in the second half also set franchise records.
Not only were the numbers impressive, he was virtually flawless in his execution of it — with just two turnovers to his name in 41 minutes. He surpassed his previous career high of 56 points back in 2005 in his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
GLEN RICE, APRIL 15, 1995
James may have broke the franchise mark of 56 set by Rice almost twenty years ago, but that doesn’t make Rice’s accomplishment any less impressive.
In 45 minutes, Rice went 20-27 from the field (.741 FG%), 7-8 from 3-point territory and 9-10 from the charity stripe. He was on target from the start, with 14 first quarter points on 6-8 shooting.
The sharpshooter’s catch-and-shoot talents are on full display here. He hardly puts the ball on the floor and with his tall frame and quick trigger, he gets a clean look at the basket almost each and every time.
LEBRON JAMES, MAY 12, 2014
James scored 49 points in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets to set a franchise postseason record for most points in a game. He converted 19-of-26 field goals and also grabbed an impressive 15 rebounds as well as five assists.
He had previously come up short by a single point to break the record (set by Dwyane Wade) with his 45-point Game 6 performance against the Boston Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals — which is also considered one of the greatest all-time performances for the Heat in the playoffs.
We also can’t forget his 40-point, 18-rebound game in 2012 against the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final as well as his triple-double in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, but this one gets the nod because he set a franchise record that could stand forever.
DWYANE WADE, February 28, 2009
Before the Big 3 era, Wade was the driving offensive force that had led them to the 2006 NBA Championship in the most dominant Finals performance of all time. In 2009, he took full advantage of the New York Knicks team to equal his own franchise record with 24 fourth quarter points on the way to 46 total points.
Though there are so many dominant games from Wade to choose from, this one could be the most memorable because all of his 24 fourth quarter points came in the final nine and a half minutes of the game. More specifically, it came immediately after a Danilo Gallinari elbow to Wade’s face with the Knicks up 103-88.
"When I’m angry, I attack," said Wade afterwards. "That’s what I did."
Once the blood was wiped off, he made the Knicks pay with 15 points scored in a stunning 19-0 Heat run to win the game 120-115. Just 42 days later, Wade would set a career-high of 55 points, one shy of Rice’s franchise record at the time, against these same Knicks for another victory.
So where does Whiteside’s game rank? Not only was it a unique triple-double, he did it in much less time then any of the above-mentioned performances. Still, it’s hard to top the accomplishments of Wade and James which is why we’ll place it below them but above Seikaly and Rice’s games.
How would you rank Whiteside’s historic display and what other Heat individual game performances come to mind?