Hassan Whiteside, one of the premier free agents of the NBA’s 2016 class, takes video games quite seriously. He has previously connected his real-life accomplishments to the improving skills of his playable NBA 2K avatar, and now he’s referencing the game again on the eve of his free agency.
“He was just so terrible, like terrible,” Whiteside said of the former version of his playable self, in a recent Bleacher Report feature. “He couldn’t make layups. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t do nothing. He was just like a mascot. He couldn’t guard this ketchup bottle. And you’re looking at yourself like, ‘I’m better than this.'”
Whiteside, a late bloomer who has overcome reputation issues to become one of the best shot-blockers in the league, is likely to get a maximum-level contract on the open market, with the Los Angeles Lakers looking like one of his top pursuers. His unlikely and sudden success as a mid-twenties center with the Miami Heat, re-emerging into the NBA big man thicket following some years in the D-League, couldn’t come at a better time. The league’s salary cap is exploding, and so Whiteside hits the market at the peak of NBA money.
With a salary that nears $30 million per year, perhaps he’ll put his digital-simulation grudges to rest.