Heat veteran Udonis Haslem is continuing to find ways to give back to the city of Miami despite a number of obstacles standing in his way, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.
Haslem, 39, no longer receives much playing time for the Heat, thus limiting his production on the court for fans. The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced many community projects and aspirations to be put on hold for the time being, with some operating in a revamped way due to the virus.
“The way I look at it is that I got to be so much more than a basketball player at this stage of my life and of my career,” Haslem said. “I got to be so much more than a basketball player, man. It’s not like I’m going to be putting up double-doubles like I used to or something like that. So I have to continue to find ways to bring joy to this city.”
“At one point, it was by bringing championships or by my play or something like that. Now it’s like I’m not playing as much, so how can I continue to bring joy to this city? How can I continue to represent this city well? How can I continue to be the voice for the people on the other side of the bridge who don’t necessarily have a voice.”
Haslem did just that last Wednesday afternoon, distributing food to COVID-19 frontline workers around Miami and helping people in a time of need. His impact around the city of Miami unquestionably extends past what he’s accomplished on the hardwood.
For Haslem, a three-time NBA champion and a 17-year veteran, he’ll make a major decision on whether to continue playing or retire in the near future. As of today, however, he remains undecided on what’s next.
“It’s hard to really say now because all the things that I really wanted at the end have been taken away from me,” Haslem said. “You want to walk away on your own terms, that has been taken away. You want an opportunity for the people that have loved and supported you and sacrificed so much for you to be here in this time of your career, that has been taken away. And you want to have something connected with the organization when you walk away.
“Me and the Miami Heat will always be connected, that hasn’t been taken away. But I wanted to have the opportunity to sit down and plan something with them. I’ll never have something close to like what Dwyane had. But the organization and myself deserve to have one particular night when we have a situation collectively to represent one another and do it the right away.”
Here are some other notes out of Miami tonight:
- With Erik Spoelstra turning 50 years old later this year, the veteran coach looked back on his successes with the franchise and what’s to come, as examined by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “My path could have been a whole lot different if I worked for a different organization,” he said. “And I find great purpose in being a steward and a caretaker of this culture. It fills my cup. I absolutely love it. Pat and Micky started this thing with a huge vision, 25 years ago, and then we’ve been able to get to the mountaintop three times, based on that vision.”
- Winderman also examines in his daily mailbag whether Pat Riley painted himself into a corner by comparing Bam Adebayo to Dwyane Wade, examining his comments and how they could have a positive impact on Adebayo. “I’ve never met a man like this, a player, who was so respectful, had so much dignity, was such a team guy, that has grown to a point where he wants this responsibility,” Riley said of Adebayo last week. “And night in and night out, we see the best of the best.”
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explores which draft prospects are being linked to the Heat and who could be a good fit for the team. Miami has prepared for the draft much like other teams, conducting film sessions and virtual meetings to discuss talent. It remains unclear when the NBA will formally hold the event this year.