Whiteside Enjoying Time In Africa

Photo Credit: Joe Murphy
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

After not being able to make the trip to Africa last year and hearing good things from Erik Spoelstra, David Fizdale and Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside knew what to do when the NBA asked him to take part in the NBA Africa game a few months ago.

“I just wanted to come out here and just connect with Africa and get to see a different side of the world,” Whiteside said. “Get in the community, experience the camps, get to see guys around the league and just make the world a better place.”

Over the past few days, Whiteside has been in South Africa for the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders outreach program, which culminates in the third NBA Africa game on Saturday.

In addition to talking to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom Whiteside felt like was almost family due to all the stories Pat Riley told him, the 29-year-old has also had a chance to hang with Deng.

“I told him I want to guard him during the game,” Whiteside said with a chuckle. “Luol is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I really miss him, so getting to see him is probably one of the most exciting things…he’s a great person, he’s got a great heart. I was just excited to see him.”

Of course, Whiteside was also excited to see some animals both at The Elephant Sanctuary Hartbeespoort Dam and on a safari earlier.

So what was the coolest thing he saw on that safari?

“Just seeing rhinos and seeing a group of hyenas eating a zebra…I always see it on the Discovery Channel,” Whiteside said. “I just saw them eating a zebra and seeing that in person…was pretty incredible.”

While experiencing things like that and giving back to the community is what the trip is ultimately all about, business will definitely pick up once Whiteside returns to Miami.

“I want to get back in the gym as soon as possible and show Miami a healthy Hassan Whiteside.”