It was the season of 2002-2003. The Syracuse Orange came in unranked in the pre-season polls. That wouldn’t last long, as they would eventually go from unranked to No. 1 after a remarkable play in the National Championship game that would be remembered forever.
“Hinrich gives the ball up to the corner to Lee, the shot was blocked! By Hakim Warrick,” the announcer exclaimed. After another unsuccessful heave by Kansas with .7 seconds left Syracuse became the National Champion for its first time ever. “It felt great to be able to get out there and block the shot. Especially after I missed those two free throws,” Warrick said.
The play before Warrick missed two very crucial free-throws, only needing one to seal the game for the Orange. “I just tried to forget about the missed free throw and focus on getting a stop to win the game,” Warrick said. Warrick would forget fast as the next play down he would step out on a wide open Michael Lee—a great shooter.
“[I] Never really thought about it, he had a pretty good look and he was a good shooter so it probably would have went in,” Warrick said, talking about what would have happened if he didn’t get the block.
Luckily for Warrick, he would block the shot and the Syracuse Orange would be the 2003 National Champions. From that day forward, that play to Orange fans and many others is known as “The Block”. “I’m honored to be a part of history,” said Warrick.
So honored that to this day Warrick still goes back to that day, that game, and that play. “I’ve seen that clip maybe a million times since then.” Warrick said. “It feels good to be a part of history. Not too many people get a chance to experience that,” Warrick said.
This win, this victory, this game, and even this Championship all wouldn’t have been possible if Warrick didn’t say the words “I do” before he chose Syracuse.
“My top college choices were Syracuse, Providence, and Virginia,” said Warrick. Luckily for us, Providence and Virginia weren’t selected, the Orange was. “I wanted to play for a great coach; someone that I knew was going to be there my whole four years,” said Warrick.
When asked if he regretted the decision of choosing Syracuse, Warrick replied, “No, I look back now and I think it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
After Warrick played all four years at Syracuse he was ready to take on his childhood dream, to become an NBA player. The day would be set in stone when David Stern came to the podium and said “With the 19th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft the Memphis Grizzlies select, Hakim Warrick from Syracuse University.
“I felt relieved to finally hear my name called, it’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little boy. So once I heard my name called, I knew that all the hard work had paid off,” Warrick said.
Was Warrick's block the best play in Syracuse basketball history?
Warrick was projected to be a lottery pick, which is one of the top 14 picks. Though due to his lower weight compared to other power forwards in the NBA and not as good of ball handling skills of a small forward, Warrick slipped to the Grizzles for the 19th pick.
“I would have liked to have been drafted higher, but I just try to remember that…and use that as my motivation to show that I should have been drafted higher,” Warrick said.
In Warrick’s rookie season he would participate in the Slam Dunk Contest and finish third behind Nate Robinson (First) and Andre Iguodala (Second). Despite losing, Warrick still loved to just be a participant. “It felt great; I always watched the dunk contest as a kid. So being able to participate in it was surreal,” Warrick said.
In his second season as a Grizzly Warrick would play in all of the team's 82 games and start in 43 of them. On December 9, 2006, he would set a career high scoring 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. “It felt great. At the time I didn’t score that much since college so it felt good to be able to go out and perform that way on such a high level,” Warrick said.
Later on in the season Warrick would break his old career high for rebounds (13) against the Phoenix Suns with 16 rebounds in a 116-111 loss. “It felt great being able to grab 16 rebounds…the coaches always love a guy who can rebound. So when I did that I think that showed the coaches that they could trust me more to be a rebounder,” Warrick said.
After four successful seasons with the Grizzles in 2009, on July 31 Warrick signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. It wouldn’t be a long stay for Warrick. On February 18, 2010 Warrick was traded to the Chicago Bulls. Warrick would finish out the 2010 season with Chicago averaging 8.7 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game.
Now Warrick is playing with the Phoenix Suns, who in the off-season lost Amare Stoudemire to the New York Knicks. Warrick is one of the “replacements” for Stoudemire.
When asked if he was his replacement Warrick said “No, I try not to worry about those things. I just try to be the best player that I can be.” Going on about Stoudemire, “I don’t think one player can give this team what Amare did but the new guys we have, collectively we all bring something to the table.”
So far so good in his first 35 games as a Sun. Warrick as averaged 10.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. In Stoudemire’s first 38 games he is averaging 26.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Regardless of the stats, Warrick is still living by his best advice: “Always believe in yourself.”