Watch him as he sits under the basket with a few friends from his Westchester High School team and what you are sure to see is uproarious laughter followed by jumping up and down, slapping five with his boys and some crazy sort of dance. He never just sits and he never just watches the game unfolding in front of him. He's almost frantic in his movements, maximizing the opportunities to soak it all in and get as close to sensory overload as is humanly possible.
Imagining Hassan on the basketball court is comparable to picturing the Dalai Lama in solitary confinement at a federal prison. The person and the setting are perfect for each other. Basketball is a game of constant motion and Hassan was tailor made for it.
He even talks fast. I asked him what he'd been up to for most of the summer, basketball-wise, and here is the sequence of answers he rapidly fired back at me.
"I've just been playing in the Drew League here in town. Bunch of guys that play pro ball overseas and some other former college guys. Scored 37 the other day, then 42 and then had 48 last night. It's going on for another couple of weeks. We're only starting the playoffs now. I feel good about my game. I can't wait to get to Arizona. I talk to Andre (Iguodala) and he's excited too. Haven't talked to Chris Rodgers much but I know he's a player. Man, it's great because we're going to be ranked number one and that's what we were in high school this past year. I'm going to get everyone to come to Arizona, you watch. I'll recruit them all myself. I'm already filling all their heads with ‘come to Arizona, come to Arizona' and stuff like that. I'll get Marcus (Johnson, a 6-6 2005 SF teammate of Hassan's at Westchester) to come and I'll try to get everyone else, too. I talk to Marcus the most. Scott Cutley, man, he's the best big man I've ever played with and Trevor (Ariza) is one of the best players period. He blocks everything and he's a scorer."
That is one tangent-filled monologue from Hassan straight to whoever happens to be standing in front of him. There were some comments by his listeners thrown in briefly but he's so fast in his thinking (and his game) that he finishes your question with the answer before you've had the chance to utter any of the five "W's" and the "H" (who, what, when, where, why and how).
Example: "Hassan, at the McDonald's All-American game, you…"
Hassan: "Yeah, I missed some dunks I usually don't have a problem with but it's all good. The dancing was just for the crowd. They got into what I was doing and that made me get more energy. Someone said Lute won't like that but it was just for show. I'll play the way I normally play at Arizona. I just get after it, man. Give me the best player on the other team. He's mine. Ain't nothing gonna be easy for him, I'll tell you that. I attack on defense. Relentless, man."
Is it necessarily fair to the other nine Pac-10 teams considering they will face a lineup at times of Adams, Iguodala and Salim Stoudamire? Three ultra athletic and Doberman-like defenders in their pursuit of whichever poor soul happens to have the ball in his hands at the time.
Hassan Adams is Josh Pastner with a 45-inch vertical. JP never stops working and manages to keep up his daily routine on an average of four hours of sleep (whether that's per night or per week is anybody's guess). Hassan, on the other hand, might sleep like a normal human being but the guess here is that if one were to observe him in his slumber, his legs and arms would move like a dog's do when they dream of chasing something. Chances are high that he talks in his sleep, too.
After talking with Hassan, I watched as he found coach Lute Olson and shared a hug with his soon-to-be mentor. Anyone familiar with coach O knows that he is a relatively private and somewhat quiet person. Not with Hassan, though. The silver-haired 67-year-old Hall of Famer with Scandinavian blood and the nuclear 17-year-old from inner city Los Angeles talked like long lost friends for about 20 minutes, both smiling the entire time.
About those smiles. They were not typical, forced "LA smiles". They were genuine and it was obvious in the their eyes. Two basketball guys, separated by a mere 50 years, as excited about one another's company and the opportunities that lie ahead of them both over the next few years as anyone in America.
Olson hasn't had an athlete or a person like Hassan Adams before but in the way he talks to and about him it's clear that maybe just a little of Hassan's charisma and exuberance is rubbing off on the seemingly timeless coach. He probably sees a lot of Jason Terry in Hassan. Always upbeat, always full of energy.
Ah, but Hassan won't be anybody's sixth man for an extended time. He's coming to Arizona to play and to make a difference. And not "down the road" either, but now.
Imagine Hassan Adams sitting on the bench. Think of him, in perpetual motion, biding his time until he is unleashed yet again on some helpless opposing schmoe with the misfortune of having the ball in his possession.
Better yet, hold off on that image. Hassan's not sitting anytime soon. At least not literally.
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E-mail Ben Hansen at AZPointGuardU@yahoo.com