What is Utah Jazz center Hassan Whiteside like off the floor?
Donovan Mitchell puts it succinctly: “He’s one of a kind. Hilarious, funny, goofy. We all love his presence, his energy,” Mitchell says.
He loves the guy.
So take this next quote of Mitchell’s with the appropriate tone: “I thought I was a child. I really did.”
As it turns out, Whiteside, the 32-year-old 7-footer, is the Jazz’s biggest child. And, as such, Whiteside has the Jazz’s biggest toy.
Meet Big Shirley.
A 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara modded into a truck with six massive wheels, Big Shirley is a passion project for the Jazz’s new backup center. Whiteside bought the car in 2019 when he first joined the Portland Trail Blazers and finally finished work on the behemoth just a couple of months ago. It has 9,000 miles on it now.
“I’m like a big Jeep enthusiast,” Whiteside says. “I’ve got two more Jeeps, but they’re not like this.”
It was created by, in Whiteside’s words, “a mixture of a bunch of crazy people that did a great job.” Whiteside said four car modding shops worked on different aspects of the project, among them SoFloJeeps and Apocalypse Manufacturing in Florida. America’s Most Wanted put a Hellcat engine into the 6x6.
In the end, Whiteside estimated that the crews spent 1,800 hours of labor working on his creation.
The all-new Hellcat engine can put out 900 horsepower, Whiteside says — but also has two cooling mods added under the hood. Six massive 40-inch tires touch the pavement, along with a Dana 80 axle up front. Stabilizer bars have been added on either side, and obviously, the suspension system has been upgraded.
“It looks like it would be harder to drive, but it’s actually pretty easy,” Whiteside says.
That big engine in a massive vehicle doesn’t get great mileage, as you may have guessed. While Whiteside didn’t know his specific miles per gallon number, he did note that he was filling up his tank nearly every day just after driving to the Jazz’s practices and games. To deal with this problem, he added an additional fuel tank to the machine to up the total fuel capacity to 34 gallons.
Whiteside customized the interior as well, including to lower the seat — “all the way to the floor” to get himself a bit more headroom in the comparatively small Jeep interior.
So what does this all cost? Whiteside estimated that he spent about $330K on the project from start to finish. He said he felt it was all worthwhile when it snowed in Salt Lake City last week.
“Ah man, that’s when you get your money’s worth right there.”
One final question, Hassan. Why did you name your truck “Big Shirley”?
He pauses for effect.
“She’s big and good-lookin’. Like a country mama.”