Earlier today reports started trickling out that Udonis Haslem had been arrested, then suddenly it was everywhere...at least from a South Florida perspective. Personally, I feel like my brain doesn't want to buy into it. It was one of those times where you say ‘Of all the people to hear this about...'
Once it was confirmed that Udonis was arrested for marijuana, I wanted to know the circumstances and details of what went down. It was like a progression of denial because of who this was. It's not like it was Michael Beasley who it became very believable that he looked and acted the part. Udonis has always been an emotional leader, the captain that his teammates look up to.
I don't mean that I'm so surprised and appalled that Haslem smokes pot. I'm surprised that he was dumb enough to get caught. Here is the quick version of what happened. He was pulled over for speeding on the Gratigny Expressway and the officer smelled pot in the car. Haslem and one of his passengers were taken into custody.
Haslem was said to be in possession of over 20 grams of marijuana which is a third-degree felony that comes with up to a $5,000 fine and 5-years in prison. His friend that was also arrested was charged with possessing less then 20 grams, which is a max of 1-year and a $1,000 fine. Since it was Haslem's car, anything not on the person of his passengers is considered to belong to Udonis, but why the hell would be be speeding in a car with illegal tints and all that weed in the car? That is not the Udonis Haslem we've all gotten to know over the past 7 years.
Smoking marijuana is something that has been linked to NBA players for a long long time. The penalties aren't very severe...hell, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley were caught in a room that reeked of weed at their rookie symposium. Did either of them even miss a game? No. If there is any time to set an example for something not being tolerated, that's it.
So how does Pat Riley and the Heat handle this situation? I imagine they will meet with Udonis and get his side of the story and go from there. There will be some kind of penalty, that's for sure. Right now I'm more concerned with him being found with over 20 grams of pot then I am with Riley's punishment. Hopefully it comes out that either it wasn't his or that they work out some plea deal that keeps him out of jail and in the NBA.
What I am most curious about is how his teammates will receive him. Remember, Udonis and D-Wade are the co-captains of this team. It's crossed my mind that losing his captaincy is something that may happen to Haslem but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it wont happen.
You don't take a guy who is endorsed and believed in by his entire team and cast this amazingly dark cloud over him by taking away his leadership role, especially when he really is that leader. I'm not sure exactly how his teammates will respond to this but I'm not worried. Yes, it's illegal but it's also not uncommon.
It's wrong that he was doing it, but the dumbest thing he did was bring it outside of his house and put himself in a position to get caught. I'm not condoning it because its illegal...but the realistic part of me says that it's not an uncommon thing for people to do. But again, the main problem and what I want to know most is why he was carrying so freaking much.
In a position like Haslem is in, I'd think that he would take every precaution to keep this a secret. I don't want to go on about why he shouldn't have gotten caught because that's a terrible way to look at it...but realistically if he was going to do it then it should have been done in a room with no windows. What people do in their private time should be kept just that, private.
What I am hoping is that Udonis and the Heat move forward by turning this into a positive thing. A much smaller scale of what former Miami Dolphins running back Mercury Morris did after being convicted for cocaine trafficking. He spent over three years in prison before being released.
It was such a moving experience for him that he became a motivational speaker for anti-drug use, taking his poor decisions and turning them into a way to help people stay away from drugs all over the country. While obviously Udonis wont be spending more then a few hours in jail, he has the opportunity to spin it in a positive way (in the long run).
It's been a very tough time for Haslem after losing his mother to a battle with cancer less then a month ago. She had drug abuse problems for most of Udonis' life but had been clean since 2001. That is why this whole situation will really test the resolve of Udonis. Looking at the big picture, I just hope that he is strong enough to move forward after all this.
Losing his mother and then being arrested within a few weeks of each other is something that could have a real negative effect on a person. You hear all the time about those ‘downward spiral's' people go through, but I'm hoping that Udonis is surrounded by love and support from his family and the Heat and that he is able to get back on the right path.