Udonis Haslem Feels He Needs Some Kind of Retirement Tour Before Officially Retiring

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Miami Heat veteran forward Udonis Haslem has yet to make a decision as to whether or not he’ll return for his 17th NBA campaign next season.

However, after having been a witness to teammate Dwyane Wade’s farewell tour, Haslem indicated that his family would like to see him receive a similar reception.

Haslem spoke last week about his situation and indicated that his family’s feelings will be a major component of his final decision:

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“Me and my wife have talked about, me and my family have talked about it. Although nothing on the scale of what Dwyane has done for his ‘One Last Dance,’ a lot of people feel like I should take the time to be celebrated at some point. Even though personally as the person I am, I’m kind of like whatever.

“But I feel like the Haslem family as a whole deserves the opportunity to celebrate when my career does come to an end. So that has some effect on the decision that we make, and my wife is adamant about me letting people celebrate me at some point.”

If Haslem does return, he’ll be 39 years old, having been more of a clubhouse counselor than a player in recent years. As one of the Heat’s three captains, he saw action in only 10 games this past season, averaging 2.5 points and 2.7 rebounds.

Despite those meager numbers, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wants Haslem to return:

“I would love to have him back, unquestionably. There’s no more definitive way that I can say it than that.”

Yet Spoelstra is in no rush for the Miami native to make his decision:

“Nothing needs to be decided right now. We’re in the middle of April and he deserves to catch his son’s baseball games, relax, go on vacation. Three months from now, we can revisit this and I’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to reflect on this season, his career, and the possibility of re-energizing to think about another NBA season.

“I think I speak for everybody here, we would love to have him back. His leadership is something that everybody and every franchise in the league is looking to add to their team. We have it in-house, built-in.”

Haslem ended his 2018-19 campaign with a double-double in the Heat’s season finale at Brooklyn. One of his baskets gave Wade his 10th assist in the game, which allowed the retiring legend to close out his career with a triple-double. That potential swan song gives Haslem mixed feelings:

“It’s tough to walk away with that ending and it’s tough not to walk away with that ending. It’s tough because if you look at it from the aspect of just making the shot, it shows for all the people that are out there and were like, ‘He never plays,’ it’s like, ‘Well damn, he can still play.’ That was kind of cool to get that. I haven’t felt that in a while.

“Then to walk away after that, it’s like OK I walked away. At the end of the day, it was an amazing shot and it was an amazing moment. But it was Dwyane’s moment. I was blessed and fortunate to be a part of his moment and I’m so thankful for that moment. My stepmom wasn’t there, my father wasn’t there, my wife wasn’t there, my kids weren’t there. So that wasn’t my moment and that’s what makes it hard either way.”

Regardless of Haslem’s final decision, his popularity among his Heat teammates and the franchise’s fan base will remain long after he finally does walk away from the court.
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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.