Udonis Haslem turned down $40 million from the Nuggets because he would have ‘f—-d the whole locker room up’

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For the last 20 seasons, big man Udonis Haslem has been a fixture for the Miami Heat, even though he barely sees any playing time anymore and is practically seen as an unofficial coach.

But there was a time when he had the opportunity to join the Denver Nuggets on a more lucrative contract, although he turned it down because he knew he belonged in Miami.

“One thing I was was I was always self-aware,” said Haslem while on “The Pivot Podcast.” “I always knew who I was and what I was. At that time, the first contract, it was offered from Denver. I got 33 [million] from the Heat. Denver offered me 40 [million]. I just didn’t think I was a good fit for Denver. I just didn’t think I could fit there. … You ain’t lookin’ at evolved U.D., you lookin’ at U.D. that would f— the whole locker room up. So I can’t go there. That wasn’t for me at that time.”

Haslem, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 235 pounds, was an undrafted signing by the Heat in 2003 after spending the previous season playing pro ball in France. As the team quickly evolved into a winner around a young Dwyane Wade, he became a key role player who was in the starting lineup for the 2006 championship team.

Going to Denver at the time would’ve meant playing for an immature Nuggets team that lacked discipline and culture. Miami, on the other hand, had a well-developed championship culture that flowed from Pat Riley.

By the time the LeBron James era started in 2010, Haslem was a bit older and wiser, and he was a key bench player who backed up James and Chris Bosh in the frontcourt.

For the last several years, he has seldom made his way onto the court for game action, but his words and overall leadership on the bench and in the locker room are considered invaluable. When he speaks, everyone listens and heeds his advice.

The 42-year-old has appeared in just six games this season, but he has put off retirement multiple times in order to continue to be of service to the Heat.

The organization seems to be at a crossroads right now after two Eastern Conference Finals appearances and one trip to the NBA Finals in the previous three years. Miami is in seventh place in the East, and it seems unlikely that this current core will return to contender status moving forward.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif. and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s, and during that time he has lived through the Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James era of Heat basketball. He feels strongly that the NBA and sports aren't just entertainment, but also a means for learning life lessons.