It was known prior to this season that the captain of the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem, will be retiring after the season ends. Recently, Haslem spoke to the media and made it officially “official” that the veteran will hang it up after 20 full seasons in a Heat uniform.
Udonis Haslem announces he will retire after the season— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) March 5, 2023
“I’m done. I’m done no matter what happens. I gave my contribution. I think at this stage, there needs to be another voice for these guys. It’s time for somebody to step up and be the voice.”
(Via @MiamiHerald ) pic.twitter.com/PMkd6NSE2j
Consider this an appreciation post for the OG; the voice of the Miami Heat for years. Real Heat fans know just how valuable Udonis Haslem has been to this franchise ever since he was brought here as an undrafted rookie. Haslem was part of all three of the team’s championships, and was an integral part of each of those squads. Haslem was the perfect role player to have on a championship team. He wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work, and his attitude and effort went unmatched.
Haslem had some big moments and key plays on route to the franchise’s championship years. He was a rebounding machine and an asset on the defensive end. Definitely cannot forget about his patented base line jumper as well. There was a long stretch of time when that jump shot was almost automatic. The jumper on the foul line was also an underrated shot in his game. Whenever there was a loose ball, Haslem was ready to be the first one diving on the floor.
He was an everyday starter for a while during the “big three” era and gained the respect of legends Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Towards the end of that four year run, coach Erik Spoelstra leaned towards “small ball” lineups with Shane Battier being the starting 4 alongside Bosh at center. But even then, Haslem was a crucial part of the team as the back up center in relief of Bosh.
With all that being said though, in the back to back championship years in 2012 and 2013 Spoelstra went with a regular starting 5 of Mario Chalmers, Wade, James, Haslem at the PF, and Bosh. Haslem was also always there to fill in bigger minutes when needed, such as when Bosh went down with that hamstring injury in the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
There was a reason that Pat Riley and co. has kept this man around this long. So many “casuals” that watch basketball take Haslem’s role as of late for granted. Yes, he hasn’t been a regular rotational piece in quite some time.
The thing that people don’t realize though is that as a veteran presence on an NBA team, there is much more that goes into being successful than just being a solid performing player. Every team needs that leader, that voice that is ready to hold people accountable. A voice that a locker room will respect and look up to, as well as a mentor to the younger players.
That is everything that Udonis Haslem has done over the years. He is a true professional and embodies the term, “Heat Culture.” Being an undrafted guy and turning that into a 20 year NBA career is really impressive. Haslem has given his blood, sweat, and tears to the Miami organization and has done plenty of off the court gestures to help out the South Florida community.
Enjoy a few pictures that captured some of Haslem’s best moments as a Heatle… and thank you for everything, Udonis.