The Front Nine with Hasheem Thabeet

Hasheen Thabeet, 7’3” center born in Tanzania, was selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Since being drafted, he has averaged 2.8 points and 3.4 rebounds.

What is been your favorite part about Memphis?
The city has been great. Everybody has nice hospitality. The culture is different than in Connecticut. Over there, everybody is about themselves. Here, they talk to you, cooperate with you. Everybody is very amiable.

What is the hardest part about being 7’3”?
It’s when you go somewhere everyone says, “Wow, how tall are you?” I’ve been asked that so many times. Every day, everywhere I go. I’ll even be in the car, and people will say, “Wow, you’re really tall. How tall are you?” And that’s while I’m sitting down. But, I’m comfortable with my height.

How does it feel when someone calls you a bust?
I don’t really listen to that. Memphis picked me for a reason. They didn’t just find me walking in the street and put me on the team. Everybody out there can say whatever they want, but I’m happy. I’m happy to be in Memphis and I’m working my way up.

What are you focusing on with your game this year?
This year, my focus is on being in the game — being effective. I can’t just be in the game just to be in the game. I’ve got to be in the game and make everyone know that I’m here. My coaches told me that was my weakness during my rookie year. I wasn’t being vocal, I was just there in the game. I wasn’t doing anything. I worked on that, they helped me through, and now it’s so far, so good.

What is the deal behind you being at the mall and the store closing its doors while you’re there?
I don’t even ask. I just walk in there like anybody else. A lot of guys choose not to go to the mall, but I like to see what it’s like to be on the other side so people can see that I’m not just living the luxurious life everyday. I want to go over there and see how it is. Sometimes it gets hectic at the shops, but that’s OK. The first time they did that, it was really a ‘wow’ moment for me. I never thought one day it would happen to me. Some other NBA players, when they go to stores, they ask the stores to close the shop. And now that’s me.

Was it difficult adjusting to the southern accent when you came to Memphis?
I was coached in college by Jim Calhoun. Nobody ever understood what he was saying anyway. But I learned from him. And if you can understand his Boston accent, you can understand anybody.

What’s on your iPod?
Rick Ross, Kanye West, Drake. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music.

What’s your favorite part about being on Twitter?
I like being able to interact with the fans. A lot of people think we’ll never respond because of our status, but I actually respond. I talk to people. Some people think we just go out there and play. They don’t know that we’re going through a lot of work. A lot of people think PR people are doing it for me, but that’s not true. When I’m responding, that’s really me.

Where did you come up with “peepo”?
I came up with it myself. It came from trying to abbreviate. You only get 140 letters to write, so I just made it up. I see now that everyone uses it. It’s pretty cool.

Written by Brandon Harris, Photo by JD Meredith

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