Udonis Haslem is one of the few remaining OGs in the NBA. His tough love and straightforward approach have convinced the Miami Heat that his presence is always needed in the locker room. The fact that he is defending his team against the bashers that belittle the Heat’s trip to the final in the Orlando bubble proves that the organization was right to bring him back.
Haslem walking the march
At 41, Haslem knows his playing days are drawing to a close. But although he didn’t have enough playing time last year, Miami still offered him a one-year extension worth $ 2.6 million. There are intangibles that the center brings to the table, and most of them show up behind the scenes.
The 19-year-old veteran knows what it takes to win a championship, and before demanding extra effort from young players, he sets himself as the standard to follow, as reported in an interview published by GQ.
“I’m 41, man,”Haslem said. “I walk in the locker room and weigh 223 pounds and have six percent body fat. I don’t have to be six percent body fat if I don’t want to. I don’t care about this shit. But it’s a standard, dog. How the hell do I tell Markeiff Morris or someone else that we need them to lose weight or get fit, and that’s the norm, if I’m not? “
As one of the OGs tasked with instilling Heat culture in newcomers, Haslem would defend his teammates to the death. Many people belittle the Miami Heat’s title in the Orlando bubble in 2020. Many say Miami crushed what could have been a mouth-watering final between LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo. For Udonis Haslem, it’s not the fault of their fan favorites who faltered under the bright lights of the playoffs.
“What pisses me off, man, is that people discredit this [the Heat] did in the bubble because we didn’t have a good season the next season. Don’t get mad at me because your favorite team and favorite player were a mental dwarf in the bubble. Trying to fry chicken and throw pool parties and stuff, we’re not here for that. Isn’t it our fault, my mother, it was sweet! … why discredit us? “
Udonis Haslem, GQ
The Heat may pull another surprise this year
With the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers facing roster uncertainties this season, the Heat’s biggest threat are the Milwaukee Bucks – they swept Miami in the 2021 playoffs. And despite what happened in the Miami’s season opener – they blew up Milwaukee 137-95 – a potential playoff series against the defending champions would be a nightmare for Erik Spoelstra’s side.
Giannis and the rest of his teammates have gained valuable experience after winning the title against the Phoenix Suns last year. They’re a different beast now, and if Haslem wants the Heat to prepare for their eventual meeting with the Bucks in the playoffs, it starts with him and what Miami does in practice. In the end, that’s what got him another overtime in the first place.
Fans want a final from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden v LeBron, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, but the Heat have other things on their minds. If the rest of his teammates could follow Udonis Haslem’s lead, they would be in a better position to crush the final again. And I bet no one was bashing this one.