The veteran of the Miami Heat is all in for one last season.
Udonis Haslem announced Sunday that he is signing on for another season with the organization after contemplating of retirement this summer. He broke the news on the last day of his Basketball and Cheer Camp that was held at Miami Senior High School, his alma matter.
Haslem, 42, is the oldest active player in the NBA and is entering his 20th season in the league, all with the Heat after going undrafted in 2003 out of the University of Florida. He is the organization’s all-time leading rebounder, is second in games played behind Dwyane Wade and ranks top 10 all-time in multiple statistical categories for the Heat including blocks, steals, field goals made, field goals attempted, among others.
His career averages are 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but his impact goes way beyond hardwood.
In addition to being a key contributor on each of Miami’s three championship teams, Haslem has also become the poster child and embodiment of the organization’s signature culture, making sure everyone on the roster lives up to the extremely high standard set by team president Pat Riley and that flows throughout the building.
The precedent that he’s set in the building has made a big impact on the Heat’s other stars like Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro.
“How he helps prepare me for battle is unreal. He’s been through it all and seen it all,” Adebayo told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes in May. “And in practice, he’s one of the strongest guys you’ll face. That can’t do nothing but get me better. You have to pay attention when he’s talking because you know it’s coming from a place of wanting to see us all reach our heights.”
Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra have cited on multiple occasions how important he has been in carrying on the DNA of those title-winning teams to the current young core, who have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in two out of the last three seasons.
Although his minutes per game have dwindled over the past several seasons, Haslem has served as almost another coach on the end of the bench, always animated and ready to give his team a stern talking to when needed,
“You can’t ask for a better, selfless leader to still be engaged and helps better our program,” Spoelstra told Yahoo Sports “He’s all about how can he best help the team. Players think they’re willing to do whatever it takes until they’re asked to sacrifice. UD optimizes what a true winner is in every regard.”
While he’s not quite ready to hang it up yet, there’s no doubt that Haslem’s number 40 jersey will be hanging in the rafters of FTX arena when all is said done.
This story will be updated.