Dwyane Wade crossed another milestone after being enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Saturday. His longtime Miami Heat teammate Udonis Haslem was present, and the two shared a heartwarming embrace after Wade gave his speech.
— NBA (@NBA) August 13, 2023
Haslem was by Wade’s side for many of the 13-time All-Star’s accomplishments in the NBA, including their three championship runs together. Interestingly, they entered the league around the same time but in completely different ways.
After a successful collegiate career that saw him rejuvenate Marquette University’s basketball program, Wade was drafted by Miami with the fifth overall pick in 2003. As it turned out, the iconic shooting guard deserved his spot in the draft, and there is definitely a valid argument that he should’ve been selected sooner.
On the other hand, Haslem was not as highly touted as Wade even after helping lead the University of Florida to four straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. He went undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft before playing a season in Europe, then signing with his hometown team in 2003.
Wade eventually became a Heat superstar, while Haslem rightfully earned his keep, thanks to his leadership skills and ability to play his role to a tee.
By Miami’s first championship season (the 2005-06 campaign), the bruising power forward had already climbed his way to a starting spot. He even helped the Heat secure the championship by recording 17 points and 10 rebounds on a 61.5 percent shooting clip in their series-clinching win against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the Finals.
Even after Wade formed a Big 3 with LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010, Haslem’s services still proved to be crucial to the franchise. He missed a significant portion of the first season of the Big 3 era because of a torn ligament in his foot, but he regained his spot in the rotation after recovering from the injury and had a key role in Miami’s two-peat in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.
It’s unclear if Wade would have earned three rings if it weren’t for Haslem. So, it’s only fitting that the 43-year-old was once again on hand to see his good friend take center stage on Saturday.