While Pat Riley and the Miami Heat organization have been busy re-signing key players and reinforcing the bench, co-captain and three-time NBA champion Udonis Haslem has been getting ready for his 13th season with his hometown team.
At a meet-and-greet for his fans at the 6th Annual Kids Week at the Southland Mall on Monday, Haslem talked exclusively with Hot Hot Hoops about his new teammates, his thoughts on longtime teammate Dwyane Wade returning to the team, and more.
HHH: How would you rate the Heat's offseason so far?
Haslem: I think Riles has done a great job. If you're going to put a championship-caliber team together, it has to start up top. I think they've done a great job of putting those kind of pieces together and putting us in the situation of making a run this year.
HHH: As a fellow Heat Lifer, did you have any doubts that Wade wouldn't come back?
Haslem: I didn't really think much about it. There's two sides to each story and the truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Obviously, I'm a huge, huge fan of Dwyane and he's like my brother and this is an organization that's meant the world to me so I was hoping it would all work out.
HHH: Have you been spending time with Amar'e Stoudemire since he signed?
Haslem: No, not yet. We've reached out but we missed each other. I reached out to him and he reached out to me, but he lives by me so he won't be hard to find.
HHH: What are your future plans on getting to know the new players?
Haslem: We'll figure that out. Guys are still traveling; I know Dwyane is in China and CB is out West so we'll make sure we have an opportunity to get everybody together before we go into the season. We'll have an opportunity to just kind of kick it and get to know each other on another level outside of basketball. I think that you have to have a relationship off the court to put success on the court.
HHH: On paper, the team is looking good but how far do you think this team can go if they play up to their abilities?
Haslem: We've got as good a chance to win the East as anybody.
HHH: Were you surprised about how much buzz was created with your recent comments regarding Kevin Garnett?
Haslem: Yeah, I wasn't the only person who had that opinion. If somebody had asked me how good he is as a player, he's a great player. He'll go down as probably one of the greatest power forwards that ever played the game. It's not the question that was asked. So, the question was asked if he was a tough guy so that was the question. I wasn't asked how good of a ballplayer he was.
HHH: What do you anticipate your role being on this team next season?
Haslem: I can play basketball so regardless of how much minutes I get or what coach decides to do as far as my situation, I'm going to be ready to play regardless. That's all I can do, just be ready to play. I can play the game. I proved that last year when Hassan (Whiteside) and Birdman went out. I came in a few games and had some double-doubles and was able to pull my weight and give us an opportunity to win a few games.
I can still play the game. Everything else is up to the coaches. I'm going to go out here and help these guys be as successful as possible, whether it be on the court playing or from the bench coaching.