Sun04202014

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For the love of Haddadi

 

Since the era of Hasheem Thabeet has passed, center Hamed Haddadi has been playing more minutes and he’s wearing his game face each time. Since the era of Hasheem Thabeet has passed, center Hamed Haddadi has been playing more minutes and he’s wearing his game face each time.

 
Grizz reserve center Hamed Haddadi has been playing more minutes and growing as a fan favorite. (Photo by Warren Roseborough)

Haddadi has moved up a tier since Thabeet, a second overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, was traded to Houston. The Rockets since have assigned Thabeet to their developmental league affiliate in Rio Grande Valley. He’s played in only two games since the Rockets acquired him from Memphis in the trade that sent Shane Battier to the Grizzlies.

On Monday (March 21), Haddadi stepped in after Marc Gasol picked up two quick fouls during the first quarter and finished the quarter with eight points and four rebounds. By the end of the night, he’d tallied 10 points, which tied a season-best. On Feb. 26, Haddadi earned his first career double-double, scoring 10 points and gathering 10 rebounds when the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Sacramento Kings.

Whenever Haddadi enters the game the crowd cheers him on and he gets a standing ovation. Some fans say that’s because he scores big with his humble attitude and team spirit.

Cassie Ford, who frequents most games, said he’s her favorite player. “Here you have a guy who’s not on the floor much but he cheers on his teammates. He massages their shoulders, claps for them and always wears a smile,” she said.

Grizz Head Coach Lionel Hollins said Haddadi won over the fans and the players.

“Somehow, some way, they love Hamed,” Hollins said. “He can go out there and fall down and everybody will cheer for him. The players love him, and he brought his size to the game tonight. I wanted to go big and stay big.  He did a nice job. They (Utah) couldn’t guard him at the basket.”

O.J. Mayo said Haddadi’s game is going to be an important factor for the team.

“My man Double H did good,” Mayo said.  “He works out every day. He doesn’t play significant minutes for us, but everyday he’s in here early working on his game. Today he had two left-hand hooks. He did a heck of a job off the bench today.”

Darrell Arthur said Haddadi helped to raise the level of energy in the game.

“Hamed (Haddadi) definitely came in and gave great minutes off the bench. With them (Utah) having Al (Jefferson) down low, it’s a tough match-up. Marc (Gasol) got into foul trouble early, and Hamed came in and gave great minutes. He blocked a couple shots, got some rebounds and scored 10 pints, so he did a great job.”

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