Udonis Haslem made a goal with his father before he passed to play twenty seasons in the NBA, and this year the Miami Heat star will accomplish that. Haslem made his announcement that he will return to the Heat for his final year this August and is back to again be the bearer of Heat Culture, but also pass the torch so that it remains synonymous with this Heat team. Haslem shared that his return isn’t just for him and a goal he made with his dad, it’s a sacrifice and something he is doing for the next generation and cited Heat Culture as something that has saved him.
“This ain’t no damn charity case. This is a sacrifice. I’m sacrificing for the next generation. You know, as the bearer of Heat culture, I take it serious. It’s not a game. It’s not a joke. I know people talk about it. People, they may have this stigma on what it is and what it’s not. But it’s real. It is real. The culture is real. The culture has saved very many guys, not just me,” Haslem shared in a statement.
Erik Spoelstra on Haslem’s Last Season
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had a funny exchange with the media when asked about it being Haslem’s last season opening game.
“Are we going to have to do that all year, his last home game, last road trip? I don’t even want to think about that,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said with a laugh. “I’ve said it before, I went through that with Dwyane [Wade] and I really want to be present and enjoy it. I don’t want to get sad thinking about the end of this chapter. Because there’s going to be another great chapter after this. I just want to be able to enjoy it.”
Spoelstra also commented about the supreme impact that Haslem makes on the organization whether he gets into the game or not.
“I love having him in our locker room. I love having him lead and mentor every single day,” Spoelstra said. “I think his genius is the fact that he’s developing mentors around him, the next round of mentors, the guys who will really be caretakers for this culture and really help bring along other guys. It’s really an amazing quality that UD has. He has such a serving heart.”
Udonis Haslem on Next in Line Bam Adebayo
As the bearer of Heat Culture, Haslem has already identified who he will be passing the torch to in Heat big man Bam Adebayo. Adebayo recently spoke about the impact that Haslem has had on him as a leader and how he hopes to carry it forward.
“I’ve had so many emotional conversations with him,” Adebayo said. “Because it’s like, when I first got here I wasn’t the guy to be like: ‘You got to do this. I need you here.’ I was kind of get in where you fit in. As my years went on, he’s made me get out of my comfort zone. He has made me be more vocal.”
He also shared with Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald the honor it was to be the one identified by Haslem to carry forward the tradition of Heat Culture.
“But I’ve had so many emotional conversations with that man about this. This is his last season, so he’s got to pass it to somebody. I feel like it’s a blessing for him to trust me to lead this team and organization, and keep being the holder of the culture.”