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Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh give all the praise to the OG Udonis Haslem

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Heat, Udonis Haslem

It’s been said that LeBron James faces a different Miami Heat squad in this year’s NBA Finals than the one he played for from 2010-2014. Gone are his All Star teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as well as most of the supporting cast. Except, of course, for Udonis Haslem, who is in his 17th season with the Heat.

While the 40-year old has played in just four games all season for Erik Spoelstra’s team, he remains an important part of Miami and its culture. From going undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft, Haslem carved out a 17-year career with the Heat which includes three championships and career averages of 7.6 points on 48.9% and 6.7 rebounds in more than 800 games played. And if anyone doubts his importance to the Heat, his former All Star teammates are the first to defend him. 

“The pro he is,” says Chris Bosh tells Andrew Sharp of The Ringer. “The man he is. I mean, hell, he’s from the town. Nobody gave him a shot, nobody gave him anything. He came in and he kicked enough ass to earn a spot, and now he’s one of the greatest athletes that Florida has ever seen.”

Bosh joined Miami from the Toronto Raptors and won back to back titles with the 6-foot-8 forward in 2012 and 2013. Wade, who has played with Haslem for most of his career and won all three of his rings with him, was just as effusive with his praise for the big man, especially regarding his importance to the franchise. 

“The biggest thing,” the Heat legend says of Haslem, “is that he’s all about the organization. He’s all about the city. And even now, his voice is just as big as it’s ever been. It’s crazy. Most guys that don’t play, they don’t have that kind of impact. But he has that respect. He has that impact on everyone. If you don’t like UD, something’s wrong with you.”

Haslem will try to continue making an impact for the Heat by helping their younger players as they face James and the Lakers in Game 1 of the Finals tonight.