For anyone still wondering what it means when you hear the term, “Heat culture,” there’s truly only one person to ask, the “gatekeeper” of said culture, team captain Udonis Haslem.
The 41-year-old power forward rarely plays, but his presence on the sidelines and in the locker room is considered invaluable. In a recent interview with GQ, Haslem said he has the green light from Heat owner Micky Arison, president Pat Riley, and head coach Erik Spoelstra to keep everyone in line with that culture, whatever that may take.
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“Now, Heat culture… It ain’t for everyone, I understand that. There’s guys that have been here that have hated this s***. They’ve hated being held to a standard, to work hard every single day, they’ve hated what it takes. I’m okay with that. I’m not for everybody.”
So, what happens when a player doesn’t fall in line? “Well… I done tried to kill a few muh*****s in here for sure! They had to break it up! I ain’t sayin’ no names! They know who they is. I done had to put my hands on some people before! It’s just what it is.”
It’s easy to believe Haslem’s been involved in more than a few physical altercations with his teammates, especially based on the one game he appeared in last season. On May 13, during the Heat’s regular-season finale, he played for a total of two minutes and 40 seconds before getting ejected for an altercation with then-Sixers’ veteran Dwight Howard.
Prior to getting ejected, Haslem received a standing ovation from Riley and the crowd as he stepped onto the court.
Haslem Gets Tough Because He Hates Seeing Wasted Potential
Violence is most certainly not the best answer for getting players to try their hardest, but Haslem says being tough, relentless, and brutally honest with his teammates stems from the fact he can’t stand to see their potential wasted.
“Listen man: I want the best outta you and I want the best for you,” Haslem said. “And, sometimes, these kids don’t understand that. It’s not about me anymore. But, I want it so bad for you, that it feels like it for me. And I’m willing to beat yo’ ass to get you to understand that.”
Yet, sometimes there’s a disconnect. “I hate to see young kids come in this locker room and program and have all the talent in the world but they missing [heart]. They don’t wanna listen. That’s when I get mad and wanna jump on you [slams fist into hand]. You got the talent and everything, God gave you it all. You just being disrespectful.”
Haslem Said He Wants to Play 20 Seasons in the NBA
Haslem joined the Heat in 2003, but he hasn’t been a permanent part of the rotation since the 2014-15 season. This past summer, Haslem once again signed a one-year veteran’s minimum contract ($2.6 million), the same deal he signed for the 2020-21 NBA season, per Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman.
As the oldest active player in the NBA, Haslem doesn’t just preach Heat culture, he embodies it. He showed up for his 19th season in the NBA with 6% body fat and continues to train hard each and every day as if he’s still in the starting lineup.
“There’s an expectation here and a standard,” Haslem explained. “For me, that’s always been about everybody else. What do I get outta this? 20 years. If I can get 20 years it’ll be an amazing career for a kid that no one thought would play in the league. All my sacrifices, everything I’ve given, the only thing I’ve asked for is to try to get to 20.”
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