Less than two weeks ago I reported about a 7’2 Iranian who had made a big-time impression in Beijing during the Olympics. Hamed Ehadadi led the Olympics in blocks and rebounds per game and proved to scouts that he has the talent to play at a high level. Up until two weeks ago, no Iranians were allowed to play in the NBA because of American government sanctions. The big Iranian’s phenomenal play in the Olympics changed those rules in a short time period and allowed Hamed to talk with teams as an unrestricted free agent.
Ehadadi’s NBA dreams have now come true. The Memphis Grizzlies website reports that they have officially worked out an undisclosed deal with Hamed. The 23 year old is now the tallest player in Memphis franchise history and will be the first Iranian ever to play in the NBA.
The unpolished Ehadadi (also spelled Haddadi), is a 7’2, 254 pound center who will need to gain some weight and get tougher if he wants to keep up with other centers in the NBA. Although Ehadadi led all Olympians in average rebounds and blocks per game, he still has a lot of learning to do. It took Yao Ming several seasons to get accustomed with the NBA’s physical style of play down low. I believe it will take Hamed the same amount of time before he is seen as a force in the paint. The Grizzlies traded Pau Gasol to L.A. last season and are hoping Ehadadi can fill his shoes. The Grizzlies will also feature Pau’s brother Marc Gasol in their lineup this season.
With so many great players leaving the NBA and heading overseas this off-season, it is great to see a talented player like Ehadadi doing the opposite and coming to North America. The Olympics this summer showed us that although the USA still has dominant athletes, other great players and teams do exist out there. The Ehadadi story along with the passion of the Chinese fans toward our NBA athletes prove that the NBA dream still exists for many athletes and others.