It is very rare to see any professional athlete spend their entire career with the same organization and in the NBA, only three players have spent 20-plus seasons with the same team: Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks, Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers and Udonis Haslem with the Miami Heat.
At the beginning of the 2022-23 season, Haslem made it clear that this past season would be his last and the Heat made it memorable for him by making it all the way to the 2023 NBA Finals as the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. On Friday, the 20-year veteran announced that his professional basketball career has come to an end and that he is officially retiring from the NBA.
"#40, see you in the rafters soon. Until then, OG out."
Heat legend and NBA champion Udonis Haslem officially announces his retirement on IG after 20 years in the NBA 🔥👏 pic.twitter.com/DuPj3Poxrq
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) July 28, 2023
“20 years… it's impossible to put into words what these past 20 years have meant, but y'all know me. I'm dame sure gonna try,” Haslem posted on Instagram. “I consider myself extremely blessed to say that I can leave this game with no regrets. The championships the accolades, the brotherhood, man it's hard not to be at peace… #40, see you in the rafters soon. Until then, the #OG out.”
While it will be interesting to see if he makes into in to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame for spending his entire career and winning three championships with the Heat, Haslem will be a sure-thing Hall of Famer in the eyes of everyone ever associated with Miami.
He is a legend to the fans, coaches, players, executives and everyone else involved with the Heat organization and no matter what, Haslem always looked to lead his team by example. Dwyane Wade, arguably the greatest player to ever wear a Heat uniform, even acknowledged this earlier in the offseason when he claimed that Haslem has had the greatest career in Miami Heat history.
Respect is the one word that comes to mind when looking back on his career, as Haslem controlled the respect of every single player he encountered. Players, mentors and leaders like him do not come around every day and to spend his entire playing career in Miami is special.
The Heat have made it clear that they will be retiring Haslem's No. 40 jersey and rightfully so. His impact to the franchise and the entire Miami community has been vast and he has been a huge reason why almost everyone around the league refers to the Heat as having the best culture.
To go from being undrafted to winning three championships to being the oldest player in NBA history to play in a Finals game, it is safe to say that Haslem made out pretty well for himself over his 20-year NBA career.