LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are among the many former Miami Heat teammates paying tribute to Udonis Haslem on his social media post about his retirement from the NBA after 20 successful seasons.
View this post on Instagram
Haslem’s career ended with Miami’s Game 5 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the 2023 NBA Finals. It was yet another trip to the championship round for a team including the 43-year-old, who debuted in 2003 and played his entire career with Miami, helping it win three NBA titles.
Wade and Haslem won it all in 2006, and James came on board to win championships with them in 2012 and 2013. Last season was Miami’s seventh trip to the NBA Finals with Haslem, including losses in 2011, 2014 and 2020.
The big man did not get on the court much during the latter stages of his career, playing in only 65 regular season games since the 2016-17 campaign. But his presence and leadership had a lasting effect on his teammates, proven by their responses to his Instagram post.
For example, Gabe Vincent, who was with Haslem in Miami for four seasons before signing with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer, joined James and Wade among those chiming in.
Like Vincent, Haslem went undrafted, and the University of Florida product has proved that players can have long and very successful NBA careers even if they are not highly touted to begin with.
Haslem’s last NBA appearance was in Game 3 against the Nuggets. He played the final 29.8 seconds and in the process became the oldest player to appear in the NBA Finals.
He played 879 NBA regular season games, averaging 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. He is the Heat’s all-time leader in total rebounds. He contributed 5.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in 149 playoff appearances and will someday have his No. 40 retired by the team.
Though Haslem did not play much recently, his departure is part of a transitional offseason for the Heat, who also have lost Vincent, Max Strus and Victor Oladipo and could part with several others in a trade for Damian Lillard.
Whoever does take the court for the Heat this season, they can look to the standard Haslem established for the team as a guiding force.