Heat’s Pat Riley makes case for Udonis Haslem-Hall of Fame argument

Haslem will be the sixth former Miami player to get his jersey retired.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley and former player Udonis Haslem in front of the Kaseya Center.

It will be a celebratory day Friday night for Miami Heat legend Udonis Haslem as his jersey and number will be retired and be immortalized up on the Kaseya Center's rafters. The ceremony will happen at halftime as the team will take on the Atlanta Hawks.

Haslem is joining five other former Miami players in getting their jersey retired in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Shaquille O'Neale, Alonzo Mourning, and Tim Hardaway. The difference between Haslem and those people mentioned is that he is not in the Naismith Hall of Fame and likely won't be.

President of the Heat in Pat Riley spoke to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald to talk about the legacy of Haslem and also about making the case why he deserves to be a Hall of Famer. Riley would list off the characteristics that the former player has which should be “recognized by the league.”

“UD is an iron man and he’s a glue guy,” Riley said. “I think that should be recognized by the league. There are a lot of guys like that in the league. So yes, I do think that should be recognized by the Hall of Fame committee. Integrity, dignity, class, toughness, honesty, brings it everyday and I think that should be recognized some day.”

Riley says Haslem embodies greatness

Pat Riley in front of his Malibu, Calif., beach house.

Haslem has the most rebounds in Heat history with rebounds and ranks among the team in all-time leaders in games played (second), minutes (second), and field goals made (fifth). Riley would go on to say that everything that encompasses in greatness, Haslem has those traits.

“All of the things that embody greatness in an individual as an athlete that go across the board, UD possesses,” Riley said. “So the fact that we’re at that moment that we’re going to hang the No. 40 jersey from the rafters, it’s a great day. It’s a great day for him and his family.”

His journey has been a long, tumultuous one as he went undrafted out of the University of Florida in 2002 and made himself out to not only be a solid player for most of his career, but impact the community on and off the court. He has been a staple to the Heat as he has won three championships and been a part of seven NBA Finals.

Haslem taking front office role

Haslem won't be far away at all from the Heat organization as he has taken a front office role as Vice President of Player Development. Riley said that he always reminded him that he should coach one day and that his role can evolve in the coming years if he would want it.

“I think it’s crucial,” Riley said about keeping Haslem close by. “And I think once he gets his executive legs underneath him, there are a lot of things going on right now in UD’s life, some personal things that happened with the loss of his step-mother. So I think he’s going to be a real positive addition.”

While being in the front office is great for the 43-year old, being a part of ownership has always been a goal for him since he retired. Consequently, he describes it to The Miami Herald as being the “end-all be-all” for himself.

“I’m still working on it,” Haslem said. “It’s not an easy task, but that’s still the goal. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s the main goal. An executive position is amazing. I love it and I’m loving what I’m doing. But make no mistake about it, the major goal is to be a part of ownership and that’s the end-all be-all for me.”

Miami will come back home for a short one-game stint Friday as they face the Atlanta Hawks in what should be another celebratory night as they retire Haslem's jersey. Subsequently, the team is 24-17 on the season which puts them sixth in the Eastern Conference.