Is Udonis Haslem still playing? What is his role on the Heat?
Udonis Haslem has been there for each of the three Miami Heat NBA titles, and now looks to sail off into the sunset with his fourth and final championship.
During this amazing run to the NBA Finals, you may have seen a familiar face pacing up and down the Miami Heat bench. If you’re an old school fan of the Heat, or the NBA, then you know very well who Udonis Haslem is. If your one of these youngsters who thinks they know everything about the league, but doesn’t know who Udonis is, then listen up.
The Udonis era
Udonis might look more like Jimmy Butler’s dad, or much much older brother than his teammate, but Haslem is an old school, smash mouth energy player that was a fixture for the Heat in the early part of this millennium. The oldest player in the league has seen the good times and the bad times in Dade County. He was there for the franchises first NBA title in 2006 when Dwayne Wade was the star in South Beach. He was there for LeBron James’ “Decision” and the subsequent back-to-back title runs in 2012 and 2013 with James, Wade and Chris Bosh, and he has been there in the darker, less memorable times in the franchises history.
In the good times and the bad times, Haslem has always been there for his team, for his community and for his city. He’s a life long Heat player that began his career in 2003 after a year in France following his tenure at the University of Florida.
He carries himself in the same way that he plays. He puts his head down he goes to work and he works his tail off to make his team better. If he needs to trash talk, he has no problem talking some trash. If he needs to light a fire under his teammates butts, he has no problem with doing that.
He is a coaches dream to have on the bench, and in his younger years on the floor. Haslem was brought into the NBA when Spoelstra was still climbing the ranks in the Miami front offices, and when he got the head coaching job, Udonis was his eyes and ears on the hardwood while the Heat were at the peak of the NBA summit.
Will he go out with a title?
It’s true that, at the age of 42, he may not be as quick, explosive or intimidating as he was but he is still providing that veteran leadership that Spoelstra needs on the bench. It’s obvious that the Heat don’t need Haslem for his impact on the court. Over the last seven seasons he has played a total of 65 games, 17 games less than an entire season. He played in 7 games during the regular season, and 13 last season, but he continues to dress for the Heat, and that is something that is because of the impact he has on the rest of the team.
Udonis officially announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season, but before he hung the sneakers up he still had one more moment of magic up his sleeve. He put up 24 points in his final regular season game helping his side beat the Orland Magic back in early April.
Udonis has three rings in his jewelry drawer already, but is looking for the fourth and final one in what would be a perfect end to a long and illustrious career in Miami. He and the Heat will start their quest to send Haslem out in style with a title on Thursday in Denver from Game 1 of the NBA Finals.