Memphis Grizzlies’ Hamed Haddadi is on the hot seat and the finger-pointing is not coming from his teammates in Memphis. Rather, the criticism is coming from his Iranian teammates.
Haddadi and the Iranian team participated in the 2011 Asian FIBA Asian Championship in the hopes of securing a spot for the 2012 London Olympic games. However, the team fell to Jordan during the quarterfinal game. The loss all but knocked out Iran from getting a chance at Olympic gold.
And when it came to answering questions on why Iran lost, Haddadi’s teammates were quick to look Haddadi’s way.
“Hamed is good but sometimes not all the big NBA players can play good, he missed some shots and had some bad passes. We are very disappointed, but that happens, that is basketball. The loss was very bad for my country; we just couldn’t make it happen,” said Iran’s point guard Mahdi Kamrany.
But you know what made things worse for Haddadi and perhaps added fuel to his teammates verbal shots? Haddadi all but guaranteed an Olympic birth for Iran, overlooked Jordan and said China is the real threat to Iran in the tournament, and considered himself the best center in Asia now that Yao Ming has retired from the game.
Cocky much, weren’t we Haddadi?
And if you think the verbal shots were over, think again. Check out what Iran’s forward Samad Bahrami had to say on Haddadi’s self-proclaimed status as the best center in Asia.
“The best player in Asia is the player that wins the championship; you cannot say that one player is the best in Asia when his team finishes sixth or seventh.”
OK so you might be wondering how bad of a performance did Haddadi have? Well his stat line was not bad at all. He finished with a game-high 27 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. However, it was his play during the crucial moments of the game which caused Hamed to draw the ire of his teammates. According to the report, Iran was up five points in the fourth quarter, when Haddadi missed a shot from the field and followed with a series of missed shots and fouls in the final 10 minutes of play.
As much as one can say Hamed may have hyped himself up a ton, and perhaps deserves this criticism, I cannot forgive the Iranian players for calling him out in the media. You keep that in the locker room.
Not only does this cause discord among the team, Hamed’s teammates have to accept he is their best player. If Iran ever wants to have a shot at the Olympics, they will need him to suit up.
And I’m not trying to defend Hadaddi. He should have let his game do the talking instead of going at the mouth but basketball is a team game and the other Iranian players should look at themselves in the mirror. Any one of them could have been in the same spot as Haddadi.
But if I was Hamed, I’d just use this criticism as fuel should he want to play for his home country to help them qualify for the 2016 Olympics. He needs to prove he can step up in the crucial moments of a game.
That and eat an extra large slice of humble pie.