Most basketball fans widely recognize the Miami Heat’s culture; some even identify with it. Legendary players have stepped foot in that locker room and know the grit and sacrifice that has to be displayed on the court. No one knows that commitment to the floor more than franchise legend Udonis Haslem, who announced his retirement after this upcoming season.
Haslem entered the League in 2003 as an undrafted rookie out of Florida. With all-time great Dwyane Wade, the pair won an NBA Championship in just their third season with the Heat after defeating the star-studded Dallas Mavericks squad. Haslem would make another 17 years of unforgettable memories for the Heat.
UD was part of the back-to-back championship roster for the Heat from 2012-2013. Haslem started in 59 games in 2013 and proved his vocal leadership from the forward slot would end up making one of the Heat’s best defensive lineups in League history. He still shows that leadership on the bench as he constantly directs where a Heat defender should be on plays. Of course, it worked, as the Heat were one of the best defensive teams last season.
That stout defense had its moments, like when Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstra got into a heated argument over a defensive possession. Haslem broke up this matter; and assured the team and press that he wouldn’t condone Butler’s behavior by yelling “I’ll whoop your a–” towards the six-time All-Star.
Udonis Haslem addresses what he says is the beginning of his “The Last Ride.“ pic.twitter.com/qA7OxZSeyC— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) September 27, 2022
Fans thought the team was falling apart, but it was only a wake-up call to get back into their winning ways. Butler would then lead the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would end up a Game 7 victory short of playing in the NBA Finals for the second time in three years.
“Got one more in me for Pop,” said Haslem per Heat Nation. “Got one more in me for the city. Got one more in me for the team.”
The Heat forward dedicates his last season to his late father, Johnnie Haslem, who passed away in August 2021. The UD farewell tour starts Oct. 19 against the Chicago Bulls. A lot of emotion heads into this season, but the best thing Haslem and the Heat can do is bring a fourth banner to the 305 and write off Haslem with a legendary career.