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Heat’s Udonis Haslem says ‘it’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege’ to play with Dwyane Wade

Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade

Dwyane Wade isn’t the only Miami Heat icon retiring. Veteran big man Udonis Haslem, who’s played his entire 16-year career with the Heat, is also hanging it up once Miami’s season ends.

In a sprawling essay on his career and the people that helped shape it published at The Undefeated, Haslem explained why he’ll be forever grateful to Wade, a friend he says is “closer than blood.”

“I’m so happy for him in his upcoming retirement. I’m happy he’s getting one last dance. I’m happy he’s getting all the praise and all the accolades he deserves. I had a chance to see it firsthand. It’s been a blessing, it’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to share the floor with him, and I’m looking forward to continued success for him.

“I owe a large part of my success on this basketball team to D-Wade. What he made me do was just take a step back and witness his grind and how he’s able to get out of his comfort zone and evolve. That was something that was hard for me.”

Haslem, undrafted out of Florida in 2002, signed with the Heat as a free agent one year later, after losing 50 pounds while playing for Elan Chalon in France’s Pro A League. He immediately established himself as a fixture in Miami, starting 24 games during his first NBA season before merging as a full-time starter for the next five years.

Haslem won rings with the Heat in 2006, 2012, and 2013, playing an especially crucial role guarding Dirk Nowitzki in the 2006 Finals. He’s appeared in just 38 games over the last three seasons, relegated to the role of mentor and locker-room leader in his late 30s.

The 38 year old will retire as Miami’s all-time leader in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and total rebounds.