Haddadi talks basketball in socks, ‘Argo’
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
Hamed Haddadi is the only Iranian to play in the NBA and joined the Phoenix Suns in a trade deadline deal with the Toronto Raptors, who he joined but didn’t play for as part of the Rudy Gay trade. The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic‘s Paul Coro sat down with the 7-2 center, who has played well in 16.0 minutes a game for the Suns.
Q. How were you introduced to basketball growing up in Iran?
A. I was 14 or 15. I was playing soccer. Before that, I was playing handball. Because I was tall, I just stayed home. I didn’t have shoes. I couldn’t find big-sized shoes. My neighbor told me, “I play basketball. You want to come play?” I said, “Sure, why not?” Next day, I go to my town college with no shoes and a soccer jersey.
Q. Did you play in socks or bare feet?
A. In socks. Then I took my socks off. I tried my outside shoes. That was tough for me. After six months, I find the shoes. My uncle sent me shoes from Germany. Then I went to a camp in Tehran with a new coach, and he taught me all of basketball.
Q. Was the quality of play good enough to make you better?
A. We had a good team. They helped me a lot to be able to come here. They passed me the ball. They made me get better and pushed me to work hard and practice hard. I loved playing with them.
Q. Why did you continue playing in Iran instead of going to Europe to try to get to the NBA?
A. I got an offer from Serbia and I said, “No, don’t sign a contract. Just stay home and practice here and get ready for the Olympic games to show yourself.” After the Olympics, if I didn’t make it, I would’ve gone to Europe.
Q. Have you ever been mistreated by fans in the NBA because you are Iranian?
A. No. That’s politics. That is different than the sport. I don’t follow politics. I don’t like politics. It’s my job. My job is basketball and practice every … [For more on Iran-born center talks basketball in socks, 'Argo', click here.]