Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem wants folks to know that he’s not a fan of sleeves on basketball jerseys.
For part of the 2010s, the NBA made it a tradition for teams to wear custom Christmas jerseys during Christmas Day games.
That tradition has since gone away. When it was still around, there was one year in which the Christmas jerseys had sleeves. The year was 2013, and the Heat were in action that Christmas Day against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Miami won the game 101-95, but it sounds like Haslem didn’t love playing in those jerseys.
“I always played without sleeves,” he said. “When you grow up in the hood, no shirt on. Shirts and skins. I couldn’t get with that, and I couldn’t get with those new basketballs. Remember when they tried to bring out those new basketballs. Everybody in the league hated them. Those are two things that the league tried, and I was like, nah, hell no.”
“It probably was mental for a lot of guys,” he said. “You’re used to shooting without shoulders covered. Unless you have an injury or something, it feels restricted. It just felt weird. We knew it was coming, but you don’t want to put those on and try to play. It felt like a one-piece wrestling outfit.”
The veteran recorded just under nine minutes of action in the Heat’s Christmas Day win in 2013, tallying two points, two rebounds and an assist.
As for the potential future of Christmas Day jerseys, it remains to be seen if a revival of the tradition is in the cards. The last time it happened was in 2016. The tradition seemingly ended because the NBA switched from Adidas to Nike.
Haslem has been part of several Christmas Day games during his career, though the Heat didn’t play in one this season. Instead, Miami had the holiday off and will play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 26.
The Heat are going to be undermanned at the center position for their matchup against the Timberwolves, so there’s a pretty good chance Haslem will see some action in the game. The 42-year-old has appeared in five games this season and made one start so far.
Haslem has indicated that this will be his last season in the league, so he’s surely enjoying every minute he gets to spend on the floor.