Rumors swirled for months that NBA star James Harden could possibly be traded to Miami in a blockbuster deal, but now that the eight-time All-Star has landed with the Brooklyn Nets, Heat veteran Udonis Haslem can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s not that Haslem doesn’t like or respect Harden, nor is it a knock on his undeniable talent. The 40-year-old veteran is relieved Harden didn’t join him in South Beach because he wouldn’t be able to keep up with former Rockets star off the court.
While appearing on The Complex Sports podcast on January 19, Haslem says that at first he “couldn’t believe it” when Harden mentioned the Heat as one of his preferred trade destinations. “I dropped my damn phone.”
“As much as I wanted it to work out,” Haslem continues. “In my mind, I was like no way,” noting that he knew there was no way Harden would actually make it Miami. While one of the hosts suggests that Harden “is a fit for the nightlife and that culture, not necessarily the Heat culture,” Haslem shook his head in agreement. “I would’ve aged 15 years trying to be his OG down here,” the Florida Gators alum noted.
Haslem, who’s currently playing his 18th season with the Heat, knows Harden is famous for his party lifestyle. “He would’ve had to move me in the guest house!” Haslem jokes.
Despite Very Little Play Time, Haslem Remains a Beloved Rock in the Heat Locker Room
Few other players have played with the same franchise for the entirety of their career. Aside from Dirk Nowitzki, only Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, John Stockton and Reggie Miller spent a minimum of 18 seasons with one team.
However, Haslem could soon join that elite dedicated squad of athletes, as the veteran has left the door open for extending his career past the 2020-2021 season. Even though he only played four games last season and has scored a total of 76 points in the past four seasons, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra loves what he brings to the franchise.
“He’s just an incredible rock of stability and leadership and mentorship,” Spoelstra said during the 2019 NBA Finals. “That’s at all levels. It’s not just to our young players. It’s to our veteran players. And he provides just great guidance and mentorship to this head coach as well. I love him.”
Haslem remains the Heat’s all-time leading rebounder and is ranked No. 7 on the franchise’s career scoring list.
Haslem Is One of the Most Brazenly Outspoken Members of the Miami Heat
Haslem is easily the most outspoken member of the Miami Heat. After decades in the NBA spotlight — no matter the topic — Haslem is never afraid to share his unfiltered thoughts.
On January 8, following the violent riot at the U.S. Capitol, Haslem expressed his anger that President Trump was going to skip out on President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Haslem shared a screenshot of a CNN article with the headline reading, “Trump will not attend Biden’s inauguration,” and wrote, “Once again this guy makes history the wrong way. 150 years this tradition has not been broken. If you voted for this guy and you not judging yourself than you’re a bigger ass than him…”
A few days before that post, Haslem took issue with J.J. Barea’s comments about former Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki. Barea described how his former teammate “hated Miami” and “hated LeBron, Wade, Bosh,” back in 2011 when the Mavericks beat the Heat to win the NBA Finals.
Nowitzki, the league’s sixth all-time leading scorer, a 14-time All-Star, and a 12-time All-NBA selection, played for one franchise during his entire career — 21 seasons with Dallas before finally winning the title.
That same year, it was the first season “The Big 3” hit Miami – LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade — a move which made the Heat easily one of the most hated teams in America. Barea noted that while Nowitzki didn’t hate the players personally, he despised the fact that three NBA All-Stars took a shortcut to make it to the Finals.
On January 3, Haslem responded to Barea’s Nowitzki comments on Instagram. “I don’t (know) why this is news. We didn’t need anyone to make fun of us. We already hated they asses. So f****** what he didn’t like being picked on.”