The 41-year-old Haslem, a Miami-native and beloved figure in South Florida, returns for his 19th NBA season.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 11, 2021
Haslem’s Career Remains A Marvel
Haslem sports a lengthy prep basketball resume, which includes two consecutive state championships for Miami Senior High School in the late 1990s.
From there, the 6-8 forward earned a scholarship to play under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida.
Paired with future Miami Heat teammate Mike Miller, Haslem helped the Gators qualify for the NCAA Tournament four years in a row, a first in school history.
As the starting center his sophomore season, Haslem and the Gators reached the NCAA Championship Game but lost.
However, the undersized and heavy-set Haslem went undrafted after his senior season in 2002.
He played a season in France, where he lost 50 pounds over eight months.
Come 2003, Haslem joined his hometown Heat, with a much more heralded rookie in Dwyane Wade.
The rest of Haslem’s career is history.
Although he never made an All-Star team, Haslem remained an integral part of three NBA Championship squads.
Haslem stood as a regular rotation player and starter during Miami’s championship runs in 2006, 2012, and 2013.
As an undrafted talent, Haslem made the All-Rookie Second Team.
Over his 18 years with the Heat, Haslem rewrote the record book.
He holds the franchise mark for most career rebounds (5,755), as well as most defensive rebounds (4,148) and most offensive rebounds (1,607).
Haslem became the first undrafted player in NBA history to set franchise rebounding record, doing so in 2012.
He trails only Wade in games and minutes played for Miami.
He ranks among the top-10 in 17 other statistical categories.
And as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel noted, once Haslem makes his first appearance next season, he’ll become just the 21st player in NBA history to play in 19 seasons.
Udonis Haslem has had an incredible career.
– Undrafted in '02
– Spent a year in France
– Lost 50lbs in 8 months
– Signed with Heat in '03
– 3x NBA Champ
Now, nearly 20-yrs since going undrafted, Haslem has signed another deal with the Heat to bring his career earnings to $70M. pic.twitter.com/0qt3Sepo3T
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) August 11, 2021
Haslem’s Value Beyond The Numbers
It doesn’t matter to the Heat that Haslem hasn’t played more than 16 games in a season since 2015-16.
His brash leadership style can often be seen clearly on the sideline.
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) May 29, 2021
As a player, Haslem led by example and always tried to compliment the stars around him.
Playing alongside a tradition center in Shaquille O’Neal, Haslem focused on pick-and-roll opportunities and spacing the floor with his reliable midrange jumper.
Haslem remains a well-respected locker room presence, not only in Miami but throughout the NBA.
He’s served as a mentor to the majority of the team’s young players throughout the years, including All-Star center Bam Adebayo, and is a regular sideline presence during Summer League.
Other teams might want to stash a developmental player in the 15th spot of their roster, but Haslem means more than that to the Heat.
His rise as an undrafted player to eventual champion stands as an example to all the disappointed college players who don’t hear their named called at the draft.
Haslem personifies “Heat Culture” and his identity aligns perfectly with this new team assembled in Miami.
Now the oldest player in the NBA, once he retires, Haslem’s jersey will hang in the rafters above the Heat’s home court.NEXT: Will Heat Regret Signing Kyle Lowry To Multi-Year Deal?