Erik Spoelstra Expresses Deep Respect for Udonis Haslem, Calls Him ‘Beacon of Leadership’'
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On Saturday, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised Udonis Haslem’s leadership during a teleconference with local reporters.

Haslem has been either the sole captain or co-captain of the Heat several times in his career, but his leadership extends beyond the basketball court.

Spoelstra shed a spotlight on the veteran basketball player’s work as a major voice in the ongoing protests around the country following the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn.

A week ago, the Heat forward gave an inspiring speech during a press conference conducted by the City of Miami Police Department.

“There definitely has to be justice for George,” Haslem said. “There definitely has to be protests for what happened to George. But I would be lying if I said that it has been gone about the right way. I would be lying if I said that I’m proud of what really has been going on.

“I have an obligation to this community because this community has done so much for me, but I also have an obligation to the police department, as well. So many of my family members come here [to work at the police department] every day. They work, take care of people, they make sure people are safe. There has got to be a better way.”

Haslem, a native of Miami, wrote a piece in The Players’ Tribune back in March to call out spring breakers who visited South Beach with little regard for safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

A 17-year veteran, Haslem has clearly shown that he can be a leader off the court as well. The city of Miami is no doubt grateful to have its hometown hero contributing to the community in more ways than one.

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Omar is a freelance writer who has followed the NBA for more than 30 years. Prior to the Internet, he devoured every reading material he could find on the game from newspaper articles to books and magazines. He became a Heat fan the moment they acquired Tim Hardaway and his killer crossover, and lamented not seeing him and Alonzo Mourning win a championship. Seeing Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh play in Miami was a surreal moment for him and more so after they validated the Decision with back-to-back championships. He is ecstatic to cover Miami basketball for Heat Nation.