Miami Heat veteran big man Udonis Haslem doesn’t get on the court much these days.
In fact, the 41-year-old played in just 13 games during the 2021-22 regular season and has yet to log a single playoff minute since 2016. While Haslem and the Heat organization clearly have a unified understanding of what his role with the team is, he did recently open up and admit that no longer being a consistent contributor for his team has its drawbacks.
He admitted as much when speaking with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
“It’s not easy. It’s never easy because I’m a competitor and I can still contribute,” Haslem said. “But you know, I understand that there’s a bigger picture here. Being such a competitor, I just want to find a way to win. So if you’re going to take me out of the game, I’m going to find a way to win from the bench. I don’t like to lose, man. It was some dark nights. As a competitor, you’re trying to figure it out because you’re not getting in the game and you don’t understand why you’re putting in the work and things are not going in your favor. There’s definitely some dark nights and frustrations. But man, ultimately, I’m a winner.
“I’ve never been given anything, so this is just another challenge, another thing in front of me, another wall, another barrier. So I was like, ‘What are you going to do, bro?’ Well, I figured out how to impact winning from all angles: from a starter, from the bench, from a guy coming off the bench. One year I was second-up to Sixth Man of the Year, and then I came back and was a guy who very rarely played, but I’ve impacted winning. In the bubble, we went to the Finals and I didn’t touch a foot on the floor but maybe twice. But I impact winning. So I think people get it confused about what my job is because I don’t play. My job is to win, that’s it. It’s as simple as that. It’s not how you want me to do it, but it doesn’t matter. I still do it. I do it pretty damn good, too. That’s all I care about. When these guys leave Miami, I tell them all the time, whether you play in this organization or play for another organization, you’re going to be prepared. I bet you that. I don’t give a damn where you go from here. You’ll be prepared. Now, it’s up to you.”
The Heat are a unique organization, and the culture that has driven them throughout the years is famous within the sports world. Haslem is a big part of why that culture is still so strong today.
So, while his presence on the court is a rarity these days, his fingerprints on the organization itself are apparent to anyone who is watching.
When it comes to Haslem’s reputation as a winner, that speaks for itself. He’s won three titles in his NBA career.
Right now, the Heat are two wins away from advancing to their second NBA Finals in three years. They’ll host the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night.