Udonis Haslem looked to LeBron James with fate of NBA bubble in question: ‘If you ain’t playing, the Heat are out’

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During a controversial moment within the NBA bubble in August 2020, Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem stated that if LeBron James chose not to play, the Heat also wouldn’t take the court.

Austin Rivers offered details about the situation, which occurred following the shooting of Jacob Blake on Aug. 23, 2020 in Kenosha, Wis., approximately 40 miles from where the Milwaukee Bucks play.


This story involves LeBron, Udonis Haslem, Pat Bev, and the bubble. offguard, Friday on The Ringer NBA Show feed. #nbatiktok #hoops #nbabubble #storytime #lebron #fyp #nba #basketball

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“When I was in the bubble, we had a meeting, a players-only meeting, to ask whether we wanted to continue playing or not,” Rivers said. “This is after the Bucks just decided not to show up and not play that one game, and everybody kinda was like, ‘Wait, wait, what’s going on?’ We had a players-only meeting, and pretty much everyone was giving their opinions, but nobody was listening. We were all just waiting to see if LeBron was gonna play or not. And if he wasn’t, then people were just gonna move on and not wanna play. Udonis Haslem literally grabbed the mic and gets up and goes, ‘Ayo, big bro, what we doing?’ … He goes, ‘If you ain’t playing, the Heat are out.’ And he drops the mic.”

Three days after the Blake shooting, the Bucks refused to take part in a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The NBA subsequently postponed all other postseason contests that day, with playoff games resuming days later on Aug. 29.

Haslem’s deference to James during the meeting likely stems from their four seasons together with the Heat from 2010 to 2014. That brief era marked the pinnacle of the franchise, with the Heat winning four consecutive Eastern Conference titles and capturing NBA titles in both 2012 and 2013.

During James’ time with the Heat, the team made news with a subtle protest that followed the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. That tragedy took place in Sanford, Fla., roughly 250 miles from Miami.

In that case, instead of not playing, the Heat chose to be photographed wearing hoodies, which was what Martin was wearing at the time of his death.

James’ focus on social issues has been evident for more than a decade, which helps explain why not only Haslem was apparently interested in James’ feelings.

Once play resumed within the bubble, both James’ Los Angeles Lakers and Haslem’s Heat continued to win and eventually faced each other in the 2020 NBA Finals. The Lakers eventually emerged with the league title, defeating the Heat in a six-game series, with James being tabbed as Finals MVP.

Three years later, Haslem and the Heat stand just one game away from again competing in the NBA Finals. After dropping the past two games against the Boston Celtics, the Heat still need just one more win to advance.

Haslem’s contributions to the Heat over the past few seasons have largely focused on off-court leadership that’s still held in high regard by his teammates and the organization. Having previously announced that this season will be his final year, he’s hoping to go out in style by capturing his fourth championship ring.

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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.