One of my favorite shows is Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. If you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s on Netflix. Each episode, Hasan does a deep dive1Most episodes are only 20-25 minutes. on a specific topic within the modern cultural and political landscape. He uses comedy, beautiful graphics, and lots of hand movement. It’s great.
After an episode airs, Hasan posts a video on YouTube called “Deep Cuts,” where he interacts with the studio audience and answers their questions. The questions are usually silly and completely random. It’s also great. Here’s an example of a recent one:
While watching these videos, I thought to myself, “if I were there, what question would I ask?” Knowing that Hasan is an NBA fan, there are 2 questions2Sometimes audience people sneak multiple questions in, that’s why I would ask 2 questions, I would want to ask him: 1) who would be in your all-time Sacramento Kings3His favorite team is the Sacramento Kings. starting lineup?, and 2) which basketball player do you think you are most similar to?
With question #2, I started to think of which NBA player I thought he was most similar to. The first name that came to mind was Kawhi Leonard. If you don’t know who Kawhi Leonard is, he’s one of the top 5 players in the NBA right now and currently plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. Hasan has become the Kawhi Leonard of comedy.
Now, they aren’t completely similar. First, Hasan would never sign a shoe deal with New Balance, like Kawhi did. He’d definitely go with Nike or Jordan, based on his shoe collection. Kawhi would never (probably) get an NBA game banned from Saudi Arabia for criticizing their government. That’s more Hasan’s lane. But Kawhi and Hasan do have a lot in common. They are both very humble. They aren’t the most well known within their fields. They both play basketball.4Kawhi professionally. Hasan in celebrity all-star games. The most surprising thing though is how similar their careers have been up to this point. Let’s take a look at all the ways their careers have mirrored the other’s.
Kawhi: Drafted by Spurs (2011)
Hasan: Hired by The Daily Show (2014)
Kawhi was drafted into a legendary NBA franchise. They had won championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007. A team that had future hall of famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Hasan joined a legendary TV show as a correspondent. A TV show that had earned 24 Emmy awards. He was in a role that the likes of Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Steve Carell, Rob Corddry, and Ed Helms also held at one point in their careers.
Both Hasan and Kawhi were able to join very successful franchises with a history of success and a history of nurturing great talent.
Kawhi: Mentor → Gregg Popovich
Hasan: Mentor → Jon Stewart
Kawhi joined forces with head coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich is a legendary coach with 5 NBA titles and has won coach of the year 3 times. Hasan was able to learn from Jon Stewart. Stewart won 22 Emmy awards while the host of The Daily Show and also had a role in Big Daddy, a fun movie.
Having legends and mentors of Popovich and Stewart’s stature was a major benefit to Kawhi and Hasan’s career development.
Kawhi: NBA Championship, Finals MVP (2014)
Hasan: White House Correspondents’ dinner, Netflix standup special (2017)
In 2014, Kawhi won his first NBA title and was named Finals MVP, only 3 years after being drafted. In 2017, Hasan was asked to host the White House Correspondent’s Dinner5This was the first Correspondent’s Dinner after Trump was elected. He’s also hosting it again in 2020 with Kenan Thompson. and his standup special, Homecoming King, premiered on Netflix. For a comedian, getting a standup special on Netflix is like when an athlete signs a major shoe deal with Nike. It’s a cosign of their talent and letting the world know, this person is going to be a big deal and you should start paying attention to them. Oh yeah, all that happened 3 years after getting hired by The Daily Show.
Of course, Hasan can’t win an NBA title as a TV host and comedian, but his accomplishments show huge career developments happening for him, same as Kawhi.
Kawhi: leaves Spurs (2018)
Hasan: leaves The Daily Show (2018)
In 2018, Kawhi decides he doesn’t want to be on the Spurs anymore and gets traded to the Toronto Raptors. Hasan also decides to leave The Daily Show in 2018. Interesting that they both happened to leave the same year from the places their career’s began.
Kawhi: NBA Championship, Finals MVP (2019)
Hasan: Netflix show (Patriot Act), Time’s 100 most influential people, Emmy, Peabody, and Webby awards (2018/2019)
Kawhi leads the Raptors to the NBA title, his second, and earns his second Finals MVP in 2019. Between 2018 and 2019, Hasan launched his own Netflix show, Patriot Act, he was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and Patriot Act won Peabody, Webby, and Emmy awards. Winning an Emmy award is the TV equivalent of getting an MVP award in a sport. It says you were better at this thing than everyone else that does the same thing. That’s essentially what an MVP award says.
Major accomplishments for both Hasan and Kawhi, only a year after leaving where their careers started.
Hasan and Kawhi are both operating at a different level right now. They’ve had similar career trajectories with similar levels of success in their respective fields. Their journeys have been incredible to follow. In fact, Patriot Act got renewed by Netflix and is coming back on March 29. Now’s the time to start watching.