At 28.13 years of age, the Miami Heat would be, in any other circumstance, the picture of youth. Only seven years removed from legally drinking, six years from college graduation, heck, they’d be in the midst of a residency if Jimmy Buckets decided to become Dr. Buckets.
But when it comes to basketball, the Heat are old. Only the Milwaukee Bucks field an older lineup. The league is getting younger — the average age of an NBA team is 26.01 this season, continuing a trend that began in 2018. But for roughly 30 years before that, the median NBA team’s age lingered around 27 or 28. This Heat team more fits that profile, clinging to aging stars in Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler.
Of course, the Heat also have the league’s oldest player: Udonis Haslem, who is a spry 42 years old. That age is something that came up recently in an edition of “Miami Mashup,” a game show that has Heat players pull numbers out of a hat to guess the answers to Heat-related stats questions.
The final question on Tuesday was a true trivia challenge: “How many years has Udonis Haslem been in the league?”
And while Tyler Herro brought out the 2-0 for his answer, Bam Adebayo couldn’t help but take a friendly jab at the Heat elder statesman and teammate. Reaching into the box of numbers, Adebayo pulled out not two but three digits: 155, cracking a broad smile in the process.
Adebayo and Haslem are Close Friends
Despite Adebayo’s trolling of Haslem, the two remain close friends. For example, when Haslem’s father passed away in September, forcing Haslem away from the team, Adebayo made sure Haslem’s presence was still felt at practice.
“It was just something I wanted to do,” Adebayo said. “I know he’s not here, and I know how much he wants to be here. Just showing my support for him. Letting the guys know he’s still here, even though he’s not here. You’ll still see 40 going around the gym.”
Haslem has never been more than a bench-unit player for the Miami Heat. Nonetheless, he’s spent his entire 19-year career in South Beach, an incredible feat in an era where many players rotate between franchises with regularity.
Haslem has also been a front-row witness to Miami’s rollicking success this century. In his second year with the Heat, he welcomed both veteran Shaquille O’Neal and incoming rookie Dwyane Wade to the team. A decade later, he greeted LeBron James and Chris Bosch to South Beach for the Heat’s incredible early 2010s run. And now, here Haslem is once more for yet another iteration of the Miami Heat, once again built around stars in Lowry and Butler.
Ahead of the new season, Haslem explained his motivation for returning for another year.
Haslem: Return Not ‘A F****** Charity Case’
It would have been simply for Haslem, a free agent last summer, to simply hang up the high tops and call it a career. But when the Heat came calling one more time, Haslem couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Accoridng to Haslem, he still believes he has some gas left in the tank.
“This is not a f****** charity case,” he said in October, per ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez. “My guys know what I bring to the table, appreciate me and respect me.
“I’m not joking. Trust me, I’d be the first one to get the f*** out of here if I couldn’t do it anymore. I’m not gonna get my ass kicked by little guys every day.”
Haslem’s appeared in just two games this season but clearly remains a crucial part of the team’s leadership.