For the first time since Round 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat’s OG — Udonis Haslem — made an appearance on the court.
It wasn’t the most memorable of his recent cameos; Haslem played all of 29 seconds at the end of the blowout loss, missing his only shot attempt. Nevertheless, the baller — who’s turning 43 on Friday — managed to make history as the oldest player ever to appear in a Finals game.
While that appearance clearly meant something to the Heat Nation citizenry, the players undoubtedly felt something, too. That includes Caleb Martin, who didn’t mince words when describing Haslem’s importance to him personally during Thursday’s media availability.
“He has meant everything to me,” Martin said of the 20-year veteran.
Heat’s Caleb Martin Elaborates on What Udonis Haslem Means to Him
There is, of course, some crossover to be found with Martin and Haslem, as both players entered the Association undrafted and largely unheralded. So, as he has worked to make himself as one of the game’s up-and-coming frontcourt players, the former has looked at the latter as an example; something to aspire to.
Not only that — Haslem has been there to help him along in his journey.
“He is on the Mount Rushmore of undrafted guys who have made a living in this league,” Martin said.
After four years at Florida, Haslem spent his first season as a baller-for-hire in the French LNB Pro A. The following year (2003-04), he caught on with the Heat, with whom he went on to appear in 879 games while averaging 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds nightly.
He also captured three NBA championship rings and earned more than $65 million.
“I’m so fortunate to have someone like him, to be under his wing and take advice from him and just learn from him. It’s been an honor, for sure, to be around him and to be able to learn from him. I’ve had a big-time luxury of having him on the team and being a part of this run.”
Haslem Intends to Stick Around as a Hands-On Minority Owner
While the Heat’s championship fate has yet to be decided, Haslem’s ultimate destination is already known. Title or no, the Miami lifer will be hanging up the high-tops once his team’s current run ends.
That’s not to say, though, that he’s parting ways with the franchise. Earlier this season, Haslem revealed that he’d like to remain in the mix as a hands-on member of the Heat’s ownership group.
Via the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson:
My commitment, even though I’ll be retired, is to be here just as much as the players and the staff and be committed to the process of the future and winning… I look to take a path of ownership, but to be a working owner, not a guy who crosses his legs and sits on the sideline.
I want to be a guy that connects the dots between the locker room and front office, connects the dots between the front office and the owners. Sometimes you can miss things in those areas.