Heat fan favorite Udonis Haslem undecided on retirement
Udonis Haslem hasn’t been part of the Miami Heat’s rotation for a good while now. It doesn’t inherently mean he’s done as a player, though.
Since the 2014-15 season, the Florida native has only been averaging seven, eight, and — just this past year — a career worst five minutes per night.
As such, questions about retirement constantly hound the 37 year-old, much like his pal Dwyane Wade — although the latter shows flashes (no pun intended) of his old self every once in a while to show that he still has it.
Haslem, on the other hand, has no breakout games to speak of. In fact, the veteran forward hadn’t even stepped on the court the entire playoffs. And while general manager Pat Riley re-signed him to a one-year contract last year, it’s not apparent if the 6-foot-8 workhorse will have the same fate this summer, as he’s currently undecided if he will continue to play.
But if you ask some of his Heat teammates, Haslem should still play and has plenty of value that belies his paltry games played and mediocre numbers. Speaking to Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, guard Goran Dragic credited his work ethic and savvy behind the scenes.
“It’s really tough to explain to people outside what he means to this team. Everybody is looking, ‘OK, he’s not playing’ but they don’t know how much he brings to this team, especially with his experience and leadership. A lot of guys in this locker room need leadership like UD, especially Hassan [Whiteside]. I think UD can provide that. He’s there where usually some guys would not be, in the toughest moments, when you need something, he’s there. That’s why everybody loves him.”
“He gives to others. He’s not about him any more. He’s there to give his knowledge, his hand, his body, everything to make it easier for those young players. I really have a privilege to be there [with him]. Hopefully, one day I can be like him.”
Dragic even offers further praise, citing that Haslem easily eclipses his past teammates in terms of personality.
“I played with a lot of veteran guys who had successful careers — like UD, Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire — [and Haslem] is number one in my books as a player and a leader and a friend.”