Udonis Haslem has made clear for decades he does not suffer fools. Or, as he calls them, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
So when his former rivals from the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets took some early shots at his team on Garnett’s “Anything is Possible” podcast, the Miami Heat captain was more than willing to return the blows.
First, to the duo’s claims of everything from the Heat’s championship window having closed, to Jimmy Butler cruising during the regular season, to Bam Adebayo being of less than All-Star caliber, to Kyle Lowry being no more than reserve quality, and, most significantly, the Heat having lost their identity, Haslem offered an initial rebuke on Instagram.
Haslem opened that post with how the Heat ran Pierce and Garnett out of the playoffs when the two were with both the Celtics and Nets.
“No matter what you say,” Haslem posted, “it won’t change that ass whooping y’all took back in the day!!!”
He continued, “I know a lot about windows closing cause we slammed y’all . . . and locked y’all suckas out forever ever!!!”
Then, with the Heat preparing for Tuesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors at FTX Arena, Haslem, in a more private moment with just two reporters on the team’s practice court, took it further.
Of Pierce and Garnett doubting the Heat, Haslem said, “I can dig it, because I don’t like them, either.”
He went on to say why.
“It’s just how I feel. That’s just how I feel. I just feel like every time I turn around those guys got something to say about us,” the 20-year Heat forward said. “Even going back to last year, I think Paul was very critical of us last year. You know what I’m saying? But like why? For what? Critical of Bam, critical of Jimmy, six games in, when there’s a lot of teams struggling right and haven’t hit their stride, not just us. I feel like that was a bit much.
“And I feel like it goes back. But I can feel it, I can dig it, because I don’t like them, either. So I can understand why they probably don’t like us and don’t like me, because I don’t like them, either. And that’s OK. I don’t have to like everybody. I was taught that as a kid: Be respectful; you don’t gotta like everybody.”
Pierce and Garnett offered several criticisms of the Heat, although Garnett said he still envisions the Heat finishing as a top-five team and Pierce noted of Erik Spoelstra, “Spo is one of our game’s best coaches.”
– Pierce on Adebayo, “I think with them, they gotta do it collectively, and I just ain’t seeing it right now. Like Bam, we thought he was gonna turn into a perennial All-Star, and he’s kind of been up and down. The only consistency they got is probably Tyler Herro.”
– Garnett on the Heat losing their grit, “What’s Miami’s identity? That’s the first thing I ask myself. They used to be known as a defensive team that can score the ball. Now, they done turned into a 3-point shooting team with a bunch of ball movement. I’m trying to still figure out who they are, though. They don’t really have no identity.”
– Pierce on Lowry, “I think his best role on a championship team is a vet guard coming off the bench.”
– Garnett on regular-season Butler. “I’m supposed to wait 82 games to see if Jimmy Butler gonna give me something like some 36s, some 40s, some 45s? He don’t even look like he has that type of energy.”
– Pierce, on where it is headed, “It’s just, it’s over. Their window’s closing.”
Typically there is a restraint from former players toward active players they had competed against. Haslem felt that code was compromised.
“It’s early. It was six games in,” he said of when Pierce and Garnett offered their thoughts. “There’s a lot of teams who are struggling to hit their stride right now. So to make that comment on us? I felt, like I said, I just feel like it goes back to the rivalry and history of us, which I understand.
“Because we don’t like y’all, either.”