It’s August and I find myself getting bored. I keep waiting for the season to start. A few nights ago that waiting leads to me reading the bios of current Thunder players. A majority of the stuff is mind numbing. Ryan Gomes favorite sports teams are the New York Yankees and the San Francisco 49ers. Reggie Jackson lists math as his favorite subject in school. Jeremy Lamb enjoys playing street hockey. Stuff like that.
But then you get to Hasheem Thabeet’s bio and, man, what a fun time. While I’m aware that his time in the league hasn’t been what the world would expect of a number 2 overall pick, it would appear that he’s an awfully cool guy. Honestly, he might be the most interesting guy in the league, and it wouldn’t appear that anybody has any clue.
In Arabic, his name means “Destroyer of Evil”.
Growing up, the guy used to model in Dar Es Salaam to try and earn money for his family. None of this print modeling garbage either. No St. John’s Bay-Daniel Cremieux-Nautica type stuff. Runway modeling. The catwalk.
He ran a half-marathon when he was thirteen years old. When I was thirteen I ran after the ice cream truck and the hardest thing I’d ever worked for was climbing up onto a ledge at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium in Norman so I could stand behind Kirk Herbstreit and get on College Gameday. It was after the 2000 OU-Nebraska game while the goalposts were being torn down, pepper spray still hanging thick in the air. It’s on a VHS tape somewhere at my parents house. I stuck my tongue out. I’m not as smooth as Hasheem when the cameras start popping.
The guy didn’t even play basketball until he was fifteen. He’d always been a soccer player. He learned about the game by watching pickup ball in Tanzania.
In order to get his name on recruiters’ minds, he found out coaches’ and recruiters’ information through Google searches and emailed them directly. This is the actual grind.
He trained with Navy Seals in preparation for the draft, then proceeded to become the first Tanzanian born player to be drafted by an NBA team in the history of the league.
On his iPod is an engraving. It says “Hasheem the Dream 34″, a musical shoutout to NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon.
He’s the tallest guy in the league. The hair patch everyone talks about has a pretty great story behind it.
He’s astonishingly well dressed for a man of such gankly (not a word at all) proportions. His Instagram, which I linked to in the previous sentence, I’m going to link to again here, so you tell me if I think it’s the stuff of legend. Truly next level. If you drew pictures inspired from Pynchon’s words in Inherent Vice you’d get Thabeet’s Instagram page. He’s hash-tagged #THUNDERTFUP before. This is hero work.
See Hasheem on a beach contemplating life’s mysteries. See Hasheem take a picture of a poem. See Hasheem bowling. Then see a picture of a growling tiger. A picture of a painting someone did of him at UCONN with oversized hands. A picture of Mandela. A picture of Wilt taking a swing at Ali. A pretty fantastic meme. It’s all amazing. @hasheemthedream. Treat yourself. Give yourself the gift of clicking the Follow button by his name.
His bio reads like some kind of alternate world Gatsbian type rise to prominence. Self made. From somewhere else. Now he’s here, and he lives loudly. Look at those shirts. Why are these not being recreated in orange and blue and sold in the Thunder Shop? Is there no entrepreneurial spirit anymore? Tree and Leaf? Come on. Please?
Tyler Parker is a contributing editor for Ballerball. His column appears every Thursday.