Udonis Haslem discloses how Florida Panthers’ ‘exciting’ playoff run has ‘captivated my attention’

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While Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem’s main focus is now the Heat’s efforts in the postseason, he’s also expressing enthusiasm for the playoff run of the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

As a native of Miami, Haslem has always been passionate about sports teams representing the city, with the Panthers advancing after defeating the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of their series on Friday night.

“It’s exciting, really exciting,” Haslem said. “The way they have been able to play this year has captivated my attention.”

Watching the Panthers has been an intense experience for Haslem, who’s seen his own share of dramatic moments during his lengthy NBA career.

“They’re keeping me on the edge of my seat,” he said. “It’s really something.”

Haslem has never been shy about expressing his passion for Miami-based sports teams. That was evident earlier this year when he bitterly attacked the Miami Dolphins following the dismissal of former head coach Brian Flores.

One of the reasons for Haslem’s enthusiasm about the Panthers is his friendship with Panthers forward Anthony Duclair. Another reason is his connection with Panthers assistant general manager Brett Peterson.

Haslem is hoping to absorb some of the advice offered by Peterson, who is the first Black assistant general manager in NHL history. The two have connected before on a local diversity program and obviously crafted a strong bond with each other.

While Haslem is keeping an eye on the Panthers, he’s zeroing in on the Heat’s own playoff run. After advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night, the Heat are currently in a holding pattern as they wait to see which team they’ll face in the conference finals.

Haslem has been a part of all three of the Heat’s NBA titles. He’d be happy to add one more championship ring as he roots for the Panthers to also capture the ultimate prize.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.