Every season since 2003, Udonis Haslem has ended the year as a member of the Miami Heat. From entering the league in Dwyane Wade's rookie season to now playing with teammate Precious Achiuwa, who was four years old when UD got started, Haslem has experienced every kind of season in a Heat uniform and decided to return the next season for another go at it. Unbelievably, he'll have to make that same choice in 2021.
There really should be no choice, though. Haslem should return next season for his would-be 19th in the league. UD, if you're reading this, we hope our reasoning can sway you.
It would make so many people mad online. For whatever reason, the fact that Udonis Haslem still plays professional basketball angers many, even some Heat fans. Why? Who knows, but it's hilarious how much it bothers so many people who don't understand UD's value to the organization.
If for no other reason, UD should come back for another season so his haters can be big mad butthurt about it. It's a great running bit.
UD would have to outlast a guy he's tied with, a guy named LeBron James, but crazier things have happened, and, as we've seen, UD completing a season consists of two minutes of action. He can pull that off until he's 80 years old.
Run it back, UD. Four more seasons, even. Get that record.
Miami will forever need the threat of unleashing UD. Sometimes it's not what you do, it's the threat of what you could do. For years, the Miami Heat has had UD lurking on the sidelines, stalking his prey like a pitbull on a porch. Mess around and find out what happens if they unleash him.
UD got ejected after getting into it with Dwight ???? pic.twitter.com/DwLaSi1Dk6— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 14, 2021
This past season, Dwight Howard found out what happens when UD enters the game. Others took notice. This option would be available moving forward as not just an empty threat, but a promise.
He's the LeBron James of teammates. Imagine telling a Heat fan back in 2003 that in 2021, Udonis Haslem would finish third in Teammate of the Year voting. They would have laughed you off their Twitter timeline if Twitter had existed back then.
Heat's Udonis Haslem finishes third in NBA players' voting for Teammate of the Year Award, won by Damian Lillard. Haselm also finished behind Chris Paul, with Kyle Lowry fourth. Haslem appeared in one game, for 2:40 this season.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 3, 2021
If a team needs the last guy on its bench to play a pivotal part of the season, it's in trouble. But every team in the league can use a Hall of Fame-caliber teammate.
He's the most iconic Miami athlete who's still active. There isn't a player on any of South Florida's sports teams who is more of a household name than Udonis Haslem. People young and old know and respect the name. He's a Miami sports icon. Those don't grow on trees, and they aren't groomed overnight.
When a sports icon passes through town, you let him leave when he's damn ready to leave. Many fans wanted to kick Dwyane Wade out the door at times. Lots of Dolphins fans were happy to see Dan Marino retire. Udonis Haslem is the last of that breed.
UD can help with that. He has before, for a long list of eventually useful Heat players.
The Heat needs UD to take one more player under his wing this summer. The team doesn't have a first-round pick, so a good Precious in 2022 is key to its success.
His salary isn't a factor. Miami needs every dollar it can get to fit in another star player this summer or in the future. UD helps with that.
I’m convinced the Heat will continue to sign Udonis Haslem to a one-year veteran’s minimum, just for him to play less than 5 games, until he’s physically unable to walk onto the court— Branden Hart (@BR4ND3NJH) May 14, 2021
Most fans don't know that the NBA put a rule in place a few years ago to discourage teams from dropping more expensive veterans for younger players. The league helps teams pay for a portion of a minimum-salary player's cost if he has three-plus years of experience, so long as it's a one-year contract.
UD takes up a roster spot that pays for itself in salary cap jiu-jitsu.
UD is a walking, talking book of basketball knowledge. UD has seen it all, and it's available to his teammates at any given time. Hearing from a coach how to stay focused in a tough situation just doesn't land the same way it does coming out of a teammate's mouth.
Pretty much EVERYONE was rooting for OKC against the Heat in the 2012 Finals ????— Called Game (@CalledGame) June 4, 2021
Udonis Haslem (@ThisIsUD) and the Heatles knew they were taking home the ship: “After we lost game 1 in OKC, we walked into the locker room and said ‘Oh we got this.” https://t.co/oUpORI4JaT pic.twitter.com/8RrXlhyK1L
When UD speaks, teammates listen. Because he's been there, done that, and drunk Champagne in the locker room afterward.
When UD does it, it's amazing. It's seen as needed. It just plays differently. Players know to straighten up.
Coaches can't pull this move. It'll be all over ESPN, and not in a positive way.
Wade is in Utah, so we need all the UD we can get. Miami, trust me — you are not ready for this breakup. Dwyane Wade is now a part-owner of the Utah Jazz. He's out here celebrating their games. He's gone. Dad got remarried.
Pain. https://t.co/5E7Tyg97tf— Ryan Yousefi (@Rizzmiggiz) June 9, 2021
UD can't leave us yet. The wounds are too fresh.
Heat fans haven't been able to see many games in person over the past 18 months because of the pandemic. Give them a heads-up this will be your last season, and let them spend an entire year celebrating your incredible run in the 305.