What Udonis Haslem means to the Miami Heat, according to Pat Riley himself
The Miami Heat have long considered Udonis Haslem as the heart and soul of the team. Heat legend Dwyane Wade has said it multiple times in the past. Even LeBron James, who played four seasons in South Beach, attests to it, too.
And of course, none other than Heat president Pat Riley sees Haslem’s invaluable presence for his squad, as he explained how the 18-year veteran provides much needed leadership in the locker room, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Pat Riley on re-signing Udonis Haslem, "His role is so critical for our team. Besides being able to still play, UD keeps everyone together in the locker room and on the road, teaching and mentoring. I think it’s a role he really loves and we are glad he decided to come back."
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 28, 2020
After coming off a rather surprising NBA Finals appearance, Miami prioritized bringing back the 40-year old back in the fold. Despite not seeing much playing time over the last couple of seasons, the Heat have always made it a point to re-sign Haslem, even if it means giving up a roster spot.
That just shows how much the organization values Haslem’s leadership and voice, not only in the locker room, but also on the Heat bench. In fact, Haslem showed that when he gave an emotional pep talk to the team amidst getting dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
The speech appeared to light a fire under the entire squad, responding with an inspirational performance in Game 3, beating the heavily-favored Lakers despite missing stars Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.
While Miami eventually lost the series and the championship in six games, they are certainly aiming to get another crack at winning an NBA title this season. Haslem has been there before, winning on three occasions and losing on three as well. He certainly has a ton of experience on that regard.
Providing Miami’s young team with much needed motivation and guidance, even just on the sidelines, should go a long way. Throughout 3 different eras of Heat basketball, Udonis Haslem has been the one constant.