Udonis Haslem has been a key member of the Miami Heat almost immediately since being drafted from the University of Florida in 2003. The Miami native appeared in 75 games his rookie season in Miami and averaged over 7 points and 6 rebounds per game. Haslem has been a staple in Miami ever since. Haslem’s impact is now bigger than ever despite him playing fewer minutes than ever.
Haslem has been described as a soldier still patrolling the sidelines of Heat Culture. His impact is so important to the team that the Heat sent representatives to him to recruit him back immediately after the July 30 free agency window opened. Despite only appearing in 13 games in the 2021-22 season for the Heat, he still remains one of their most important players on the roster. Haslem’s impact goes beyond the box score with what he brings to Heat Culture. Andre Igoudala credited his year with the Miami Heat in helping him accept his role as a veteran leader on his way to a championship with the Golden State Warriors.
Haslem recently spoke on Duncan Robinson’s, The Long Shot podcast about why he continues to play rather than take the step into coaching.
Haslem on Playing Instead of Coaching
On the podcast, they were joking about how long Haslem might stay in the NBA and that UD would play longer than Robinson. Robinson confirmed that Haslem can still play and moves extremely well despite being 42 years old. It’s that presence that allows Haslem to be a mentor in a Heat uniform, influencing Heat Culture rather than from the bench.
“I don’t feel comfortable sitting there and barking orders. I feel more comfortable being there with you,” Haslem said.
Robinson asked if it is that mentality and being there with the team that prevents him from taking the step into coaching.
“I got to sleep at night, dude. That’s why I don’t. I’ve been in the position where coaches have had to make decisions based upon certain things, draft picks, this, that, and the third. I don’t ever want to do that,” Haslem said. “I always want to be in the position where I can remain neutral. The guy who works the hardest and deserves to play should get the minutes. I don’t want to play the political game.”
Remaining on the team, Haslem sets a tone with his example on being a professional. That example can be shown more in the uniform than in a three-quarter zip on the Miami sideline as a coach. He seems to have taken exception to those who say he takes a roster spot and commented on that and how his presence helps the Heat and undrafted players like Caleb Martin or Robinson himself.
“People think I’m taking a spot, but I’m actually here giving,” Haslem said.
Haslem Contract Negotiations
Haslem has been told he has a spot on the Heat as long as he wants it. He still has time to make his decision about returning to the Heat, but all signs point to a return. At the end of the season, Haslem talked about his decision, “I will take my time and sit down the family, Pat, Micky and talk about what’s next and where it goes,” Haslem told reporters. “Now is time to take a mental break and figure it out.”