Hamed Haddadi and 5 Other NBA Washouts Who Starred in the Olympics
Iran lost every one of their five games by at least 15 points.
But Hamed Haddadi had a ferocious 2008 Bejing Olympics.
Months before he came to the United States to play for the Memphis Grizzlies, Haddadi led the Iranian national team in group play at the Olympics.
A defensive force, Haddadi led the tournament in rebounds (11.2) and blocks (2.6) per game. He also averaged 16.6 points a game.
Fast forward to today.
The first Iranian NBA player, Haddadi has played three seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies. Haddadi played 5.4 minutes per game in 31 contests for the Grizzlies last season, averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game, and shot 51.7 percent from the field.
Haddadi can hang his hat on having played in the Olympics if he wants, but he has a long road ahead of him to make a niche for himself in the NBA. To his credit, he has earned an offer from the Grizzlies for whenever the NBA resumes play.
He had to start somewhere.
Haddadi's time with the Grizzlies suggests an NBA team should not cast his lot on a player's Olympic performance.
Haddadi's Olympic line is not the only one that outshines his NBA line. Here are the Hamed Haddadi All-Stars: Haddadi and six other players who played splendidly in the Olympics but didn't go far in the NBA.
Yao Ming, China
He played three injury-plagued seasons for the Rockets before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he scored a tournament-high 39 points in a game against New Zealand.
Then, in his 2008-09 campaign, Yao played 77 games. He averaged 19.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in helping the Rockets to the second round of the playoffs.
But Yao left Game 3 with what was later diagnosed as a hairline fracture. He would miss the entire 2009-2010 season and retire after missing most of the 2010-11 season.
Yao's Olympic moment is only a blip on his injury-laced slide.
Andrew Gaze, Australia
Andrew Gaze and Brazilian Oscar Schmidt are the only two players to have played in five Olympiads.
Gaze holds the men's basketball record for most points scored in an Olympic career. He also led the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in scoring at 19.9 points per game.
Despite his prolific Olympic career, Gaze never made it in the NBA.
He tried out with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1989 but did not make the team. He then played seven games in 1993-94 for the Washington Bullets. A few years passed before his last NBA stint, 19 games with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.
Sarunas Jasikevicius, Lithuania
Sarunas Jasikevicius led the 2008 Bejing Olympics in assists after his NBA time had come and gone.
Jasikevicius entered the NBA with the potential to be a starting point guard but fell short. In his rookie season with the Indiana Pacers, he averaged 7.5 points and three assists per game in 75 games.
He played three seasons in the NBA, averaging 6.8 points per games.
Leon Wood, United States
Leon Wood set a U.S. Olympic record with 80 assists in the 1984 Los Angeles games.
Wood went on to an unremarkable NBA career. He played for six teams in seven seasons, averaging 6.4 points and 3.2 assists per game.
Before his rookie season, Wood gained a moment of fame by bringing an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA in an attempt to overturn its limit on rookie salaries.
Now, Wood serves as an NBA referee.
Jim Brewer, United States
In one game in the 1972 Munich Olympics, Jim Brewer pulled down 16 rebounds against Australia. This stands as the highest mark in U.S. basketball history.
Brewer went on to play nine seasons in the NBA, averaging 5.8 points per game.
During his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, every time Brewer made a basket, the public address announcer would say, "Two for the Brew!"