Udonis Haslem says he likes to stay in Nikola Jovic’s ear with positivity and text messages

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Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat legend Udonis Haslem is still doing whatever he can to help his hometown team win championships.

After retiring as a player and moving into a front office role with the Heat, Haslem is hoping to help the team return to glory, and he knows that he needs to get the most out of Miami’s players in order for that goal to become a reality.

He seems to be taking a particular interest in the development of Heat youngster Nikola Jovic. Haslem revealed that he’s been staying in the 20-year-old’s ear with lots of positivity and text messages.

“I’m more so verbal and mental with Niko,” Haslem said. “There’s a lot of potential there, so I like to stay in his ear with a lot of positivity and send him text messages and stuff.”

Jovic has about two seasons of NBA experience under his belt. Haslem retired with 20. As such, the 43-year-old certainly has a lot of wisdom to pass down to the second-year pro.

During his rookie season, Jovic didn’t see the floor much. This season, it has been a different story. He made 38 starts (and 46 total appearances) in the regular season, and he has started all four of Miami’s playoff games so far.

In the Heat’s first-round series against the Boston Celtics, he is averaging 9.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from long range.

Miami, dealing with a 1-3 hole in its series against Boston, is facing an uphill battle as the team tries to keep its season alive, but Jovic’s growth will matter for years — not just this season. The former first-round pick could become a long-term piece of the puzzle for the Heat depending on how the chips fall.

In the 2023-24 regular season, he averaged 7.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists per contest while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from deep.

Haslem, who won three rings with the Heat during his playing career, is looking to add to his collection in his new role. If Miami wants to keep its title hopes alive this season, it will need to earn a win over the Celtics on the road on Wednesday in Game 5 before also winning Games 6 and 7.

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Jason has covered the NBA for multiple years and has plenty of memories involving the Miami Heat. He expects there will be winning basketball in South Florida for years to come.