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“I Finished It the Only Way Udonis Haslem Could, With an Ejection”

What a career it has been for Udonis Haslem, and what a way to end it if this was the last game of his NBA career. Key word if.

The three minutes he played might’ve been the most up and down sequence I’ve ever seen, but before looking at that side of things with the back and forth with Dwight Howard, let’s start it off with some parts of his game that stood out.

(Yes, I am looking at Udonis Haslem film. I’m not taking any other questions at this time.)

One thing about Andre Iguodala is that not only is he unselfish, but his high IQ can read different situations perfectly. Not to find the open man on the fast-break, but to find the OG on the fast-break to get him a bucket.

A nice tip back from Haslem gets them in transition, and he trails before receiving the ball for a nice finger roll at the basket. Bucket.

Some may have thought a minute of play is all that was needed for him to log his 18th season, which means he would exit after the end of the first.

Wrong. Here comes Haslem, trotting back onto the court to begin the second.

Philly is trying to navigate the 2-3 zone with tons of screens to get Tyrese Maxey some room to explode. The issue was that he exploded too hard to allow a seasoned vet to await a perfectly timed charge. And what do you know? Forces a turnover on the first possession of the second quarter, leading to Reggie Miller on the broadcast calling this Spo’s secret weapon.

But wait, that baseline jumper is still in that arsenal somewhere as well, right?

Correct.

Before evaluating UD’s jumper on this possession, the way this play is set up is quite funny. Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn are three guards on the floor that need a constant ball-screen, but Haslem’s motto seemed to be you get one then I’m setting up on the box.

After Herro loses the ball, Nunn picks it up expecting that screen, but spot-up Haslem wasn’t going that route. Nunn drives and kicks, while Dragic reiterates that same thing and puts the ball on the floor to get UD that beloved baseline jumper. Another bucket.

Now, let’s get into some of that UD and Dwight Howard battle, beginning with what sparked it. Let’s begin with this Haslem box-out that you only see from old-heads at the park for no apparent reason. He may only have 3 minutes logged for the season, but he’s going to make them count.

A grin from Howard basically shows that he noticed this as well, not knowing that smile won’t be there for long. After the game Haslem described the altercation, saying, “When he disagreed, I disagreed, and it was a whole bunch of disagreeing.”

This was the actual play that sparked this growing tension between Haslem and Howard, since that slight hesitance from UD when he hit the floor signaled it was go time:

After some tempers rose, Haslem was ejected 3 minutes into his debut, but UD says he “finished it the only way Udonis Haslem could, with an ejection.”

He also discussed the significance of representing Miami as a whole, “Regardless of what people want to say about my career…The one thing that’s remained loyal to me is this city….They’ve always had my back.”

Many others on the team seemed to love the way this played out, while even Coach Erik Spoelstra called it his “favorite moment of the season so far.”

I asked Bam Adebayo about this situation, which he said his initial reaction was that “this mother-f****r’s crazy.”

Once again, there is still so much unknown about the future of Udonis Haslem with the Miami Heat, but as he said, there’s not a better way to end it off. One hundred percent from the field. One hilarious altercation. One ejection.

The full Udonis Haslem experience.

 

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5 Takeaways from Heat’s Win Over Philly

The Miami Heat dominated the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night, which was pretty promising as they get closer and closer to the post-season. An interesting game consisting of a couple scuffles, and of course one being Udonis Haslem, was the storyline of the night. So, here are five takeaways from this game…

#1: Udonis Haslem. That’s it. That’s the takeaway.

Well, we can add another all time Udonis Haslem moment to the catalogs. He was going to need to see the court this season if he wanted it to count, and Coach Erik Spoelstra said he would make it happen. Now, nobody expeced that insertion to occur in the first quarter, but it did. A few minutes prior he was the mediator after a back and forth between Trevor Ariza and Joel Embiid, but then he was the focal point. After some positive minutes, including finger-rolls, baseline jumpers, and charges, he got into it with Dwight Howard. He got ejected after telling him he would “punch him in his f****n mouth,” which was as much of a UD sequence as we will ever see. This is just a friendly reminder that even though he is the vocal guy and leader on the bench, he can be quite the source of energy no matter the situation.

#2: The Philly match-up brings out a different Jimmy Butler.

We all know the history of Jimmy Butler and Philadelphia, but not many expected him to knock down 3 triples in the first half. That stat alone can tell you the level that Butler was playing at, since he doesn’t even attempt threes unless it’s a game of high magnitude. Another interesting element to this game was that if somebody told me two Heat players would get into scuffles, I would think Butler would be one of them. But his calm demeanor and pure on-court dominance was the headliner tonight, which just foreshadows the way that the 76ers feel about this potential playoff match-up. There are plenty of reasons that they may not love the match-up, but it’s headlined that not many teams want to see Butler in a playoff series, especially when there’s this type of history and new things brewing.

#3: Why does Tyler Herro love catching fire against this team? I don’t know.

There were some fun story-lines throughout this game, but an odd one is that Tyler Herro silently dominates Philadelphia. Game-winning pull-up jumpers, season high scoring with 8 available players, and now an off the bench explosion. He’s finally beginning to hit his strides, and it’s happening at the perfect time. His level of efficiency this season should not be overstated, especially from deep. Four for five from the three-point line at the half doesn’t even fully explain the ways that he was scoring, since he’s actually doing it in a variety of ways. Pull-up triples are falling, catch and shoot threes are falling, and he’s even generating some looks on his own. Once again, like I’ve reiterated time and time again, this version of Herro makes this Heat team a totally different team come playoff time.

#4: Bam Adebayo’s jumper becoming an offensive staple.

Bam Adebayo’s mid-range jumper has been an interesting discussion this season. A major point of emphasis has been that he is at his best when he’s putting the ball on the floor and getting to the basket. Jimmy Butler even had the post-game press conference where he said he needs to play some “bully ball” and get to his strengths. The thing is that his jumper is becoming one of his strengths. He looked like he was at shoot-around tonight, specifically in the third quarter, since he was given the space and took advantage of it. Another interesting element is that he’s oddly good at knocking down jumpers with the shot clock expiring, but the thing is that it’s not very odd. The reason for the efficiency in that time slot is that he fires without thinking, and doesn’t have any second thoughts about making the pass out. If he embodies that mindset in a full shot clock, it changes a lot of things for his offensive game.

#5: A potential second round match-up, and Miami would love it.

The current mindset for Miami is to fall into the bracket of the 4/5 match-up, and it seems they’re on their way to that mark. The thing about that bracket is that they’d see the 1st seed in the second round, which looks to be the Philadelphia 76ers. For one, Miami would love that match-up. They like energy in that type of series, and as discussed earlier, the Jimmy Butler effect plays a big role. Secondly, who doesn’t want to watch 7 games of this? Maybe not as many UD minutes in that series, but the same exact amount of physicality. The Heat have had their ups and downs this season in terms of offensive success and defensive success, and they’re looking very similar to the way they played last season. This team is currently scoring in a consistent fashion that is needed in a playoff setting, which changes everything as they head into their final two games this weekend.

Udonis Haslem: “Make Sure Nobody is Slacking”

Udonis Haslem also got to speak with media, which a good portion was discussion about the coaching staff, in particular Caron Butler.

He said, “Caron was my OG. Although we’re so close in age, he took me under his wing.” He also was asked about many coaches on the Heat’s staff being former players. He responded, “We’ve been able to take Heat culture and apply it to other parts of our life.”

He also mentioned some differences in training camp this season, but said once you step on the court it’s normal. He said, “I make sure nobody is slacking,” which is obvious since that is UD’s main goal.

There was also a lot of talk about Bam Adebayo, since UD took him under his wing when he arrived. He was asked about Bam now trying to take Precious Achiuwa under his wing, and said, “That’s what I’ve been molding Bam for, to be that leader…I hate when people waste my time. And Bam hasn’t wasted my time.”

Udonis then mentioned the comparisons between Bam and Precious, saying “I see so much of Bam in Precious. Precious has a little more skill than Bam had coming in, and shoots a little better.”

That is a very good sign for the development of Precious, since even Erik Spoelstra mentioned today that his work ethic will lead to his success.

Finally, it ended with a question about people calling Miami’s past season a fluke. Udonis responded, “We don’t like people who throw rocks and hide their hands…If you don’t tell us who said it we don’t care.” He followed that saying “Was it some people we probably beat?”

Udonis is continuing to withstand his role on this Heat team, by being the go to guy in the locker room, or in this case training camp. But his ultimate goal is for Bam to end up being the go to guy, and it seems as if that is soon to come.

5 Comments from Media Session with Spoelstra, Haslem, Butler

The Miami Heat went through their last practice on Sunday before facing the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the second round. Udonis Haslem gave his opinion about the Heat’s chances, while Jimmy Butler spoke about the team’s current mindset. Here’s what was said…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Udonis Haslem was asked about the Heat’s chances heading into the match-up with Milwaukee. He said, “The Miami Heat is built for anything.” And if anybody knows about how this team is built, it’s UD. He continues to be not only a major voice for serious issues, but also a guy that player’s look to during games. Even veteran point guard Goran Dragic walks up to him on the sideline during games to get input, since that seems to be his role. Udonis also is a major voice with instilling a winning mentality into the guys in the locker room. He’s played a big role in the development of (Miami’s young star) Bam Adebayo, both on and off the floor. If Udonis believes in this team, everyone believes.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat’s head coach, spoke about their recent success guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo. He said, “When you think you play him well, he’s always dancing around a triple-double.” Though this is true, stopping Giannis does not mean cutting down his numbers entirely. What the Heat do with Giannis seems to be more mental. They try to frustrate him by throwing a bunch of wing defenders on him who are physical, which consequently increased the amount of turnovers for Giannis. Another way they attacked Giannis was by using Bam on offense to try and get him in foul trouble. This means that Bam’s scoring numbers may not be high in this series, but he will have one of the biggest impacts in the series.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Jimmy Butler seemed to have a bit of an issue with his left shoulder during last game, which led to him sitting for extended minutes in the first half. But when asked about his shoulder after practice today, he said “I’m good to go.” It sounds as if Jae Crowder will be good to go as well tomorrow, since he practiced the past two days. Jimmy Butler was also seen shooting left-handed free throws during practice, which further proves how ready his shoulder is. He may need to shoot some left-handed free throws in this series, since he gets to the line so many times a game, his right arm may be tired. And although Milwaukee uses a drop scheme, Jimmy Butler will continue to do what he does best in this series, which is attacking the basket.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Erik Spoelstra reflected back to Miami acquiring their “perfect fits,” in Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder. He said, “Well, they speak our language.” Everybody knew the fit of Miami and Jimmy Butler was pretty ideal, since it’s a hard wrking organization mixed with a hard-working player. But I don’t think many realized how great of a fit Jae Crowder would be. He was clearly a physical, scrappy defensive guy which was something the Heat needed at the time, but the improvement in his shooting has put Miami over the top. Not only is he able to knock down a bunch of threes a game, but’s he’s doing it at an exceptional percentage. This propelled him into the starting lineup, and will be a key piece in the second round on both sides of the ball, since he will have the assignment of Giannis Antetokounmpo and have to sustain his high-level shooting against their drop scheme.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

After a lot of people have been predicting that Miami will take down the Bucks, Jimmy Butler was asked if he’d rather be doubted or get recognition. He said, “We don’t care if you pick us to win or you pick us to lose, we’re gonna go out their and compete.” As mentioned previously, this team doesn’t care who believes in them because they believe in themselves. This is mostly because they have a locker room that is filled with experienced veterans. Also, there’s been a lot of talk about Miami’s shooters and Bam Adebayo heading into the series against Milwaukee, but not a lot of Jimmy Butler talk. This series against the Bucks is the reason Jimmy came to Miami, so he could lead the team in the postseason. This is officially Jimmy’s time.

Post-Practice Comments

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Haslem, DJJ Zoom calls

The Miami Heat had an evening practice on Tuesday afternoon, preparing for Wednesday’s first scrimmage game. Udonis Haslem and Derrick Jones Jr spoke to the media on Zoom afterwards about the team’s current status and the preparation before tomorrow. Here’s five main Post-Practice Comments from Sports, UD and DJJ.

Post-Practice Comments #1:

There has been a lot of excitement from the players this week after practice as they get closer to the return of play. Spoelstra touched on this saying that’s all they’ve been talking about, especially for the game tomorrow. He also mentioned that every player in the bubble right now will get minutes tomorrow, which might mean no minutes upon the return of Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn. This then gives these guys the time they need to get back to 100%, and gives some of the bench guys an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation.

Post-Practice Comments #2:

Udonis Haslem got asked about what he likes about this type of environment, he replied, “Ain’t nobody complaining. We got a no complain rule.” This is indeed true with this team, especially under their leader UD. Haslem has talked about this bubble in the past and always talks about one thing, focus. He wants their guys to be with their guys and essentially stay locked in. He also said “We got a short amount of time to get a whole lot of work done,” when referring to the return of play. Although we don’t know the minutes UD will get over the next few weeks, we do know he’s been putting in more work than most team’s starting lineups.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Derrick Jones Jr begins the discussion with the joy of getting back to doing what he loves. He said, “This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”

All of the guys feel the same way, but it’s a bit different for Derrick. He’s had a bit of a rocky road throughout this hiatus after testing positive for Covid-19. At the end of the day, he just wants to get back to basketball. Derrick will look to play some major minutes off of the bench for the Heat. He may be asked to jump into the starting lineup some nights for match-up reasons.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Andre Iguodala is one of the Heat’s most intriguing players entering the playoffs. His experience–His defense–His leadership. Which is why it was great to hear Erik talk so highly of him today after practice. He said: “He’s gotten better each day.” Spoelstra also says that this has been great for him since he didn’t have a training camp before the season. He also ends the discussion saying that he’s seen the different ways that he can impact a game to help the team win. Spoelstra will definitely look to Iguodala in tough spots since he’s a guy he can trust in a playoff game.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Spoelstra starts saying that at some point you can’t look at this situation from a basketball perspective. He says they are so grateful to partake in this since there are so many people around the world right now out of work. He says he’s talked to the team about this recently and thinks it’s important. Erik Spoelstra and the Heat have been using these zoom calls with media to touch on all of the important things going on in our world. They’ve discussed the pandemic, social injustice, and much more over the course of the last two weeks in hopes of getting their point across. They clearly have a bigger goal in mind beyond basketball.

5 Post-Practice Comments from Miami Heat in Orlando

After the Miami Heat arrived to Orlando on Wednesday, they needed to quarantine before returning to practice. Today, they returned to practicing for the first time since early March.

Here’s some takeaways from interviews with the team…

Miami Heat in Orlando Post-Practice Comment 1:

Miami Heat practice in Orlando, and basketball is back. And it seems as if the players are just as excited as the fans are. Erik Spoelstra mentions that he’s “never seen a team move as fast as this team” on their way to get to the gym this afternoon. He also talks about the teams excitement on the court, discussing such things as each others hairstyles. Coach Spoelstra says “You can feel an incredible genuine sense of enthusiasm.” Like many people have mentioned about this Heat team, they enjoy being around each other, which means this bubble situation helps this Heat team.

Post-Practice Comment 2:

This team is full of many vocal leaders on and off the court. But there’s no one better than Miami’s own Udonis Haslem. He says he was very vocal today in their first day back, and told the guys today “it’s time to work.” And the thing is about this team, we know they all were ready to work. He also uses the words “locked in,” which he means in a couple different ways. He says during the interview that he is only going to keep to his team during his time in the bubble, even with the history of him and LeBron James. This team is indeed locked in and ready.

Post-Practice Comment 3:

While there has been a lot of speculation about this unique postseason, Spoelstra says he will use these scrimmage and regular season games to figure out his lineup. He once again says, “Our depth is going to be a factor,” which has been one of the many advantages for the Miami Heat heading into the playoffs. Even Udonis Haslem says he’s ready to go out their and play if Coach Spoelstra looks his way. Spoelstra also mentions that they will not prepare any differently for this postseason than they would for a traditional playoffs. He says “We will prepare the way a typical Miami Heat team would.”

Post-Practice Comment 4:

Goran Dragic says he felt good today during the first team practice in about four months. But he says it’ll be interesting to see how he feels once they do full contact drills starting tomorrow. It was also told that Meyers Leonard was a “full go” and “he’s moving great.” The team’s health is looking pretty promising according to the coaches and players, which will end up being a major factor once teams work their way back in to 100%.

Post-Practice Comment 5:

And of course the money quote. Udonis Haslem discusses Jamal Crawford getting signed and replacing him as oldest in the league. He replies with “I’m still the sexiest guy in the league.” Seems like Udonis Haslem is in good spirits upon the NBA’s return and is ready to prepare his guys for a postseason run.

Dwyane Wade continues to add onto his HOF L3GACY! 

Athlete. Father. Social Activist. Fashion Icon. Champion. Author. Documentarian. Rapper? 

Flash leads the Miami Heat in several categories: Field goals, points, games played, minutes played, free throws, and now BARS!

This weekend, Wade County will honor the historic career of Miami’s greatest athlete, with a 3-day celebration centered around his much-deserved jersey retirement. To kick-off the festivities, Wade and UD linked up with fellow local legend and hip-hop icon, Rick Ross, to shock the world with a new single titled “Season Ticket Holder.” 

The Port of Miami rapper has built a strong relationship with Dwyane and Udonis over the years. In fact, you can often spot him sitting courtside at the AAA (is it still called that?) wearing a custom pair of Li-Nings and dapping up players as he walks towards the Hyde Lounge for refreshments. So, it’s no surprise that Ricky Rozay would find a way to get involved in what will be, one of the most fun and nostalgic weekends in HEAT history. Make no mistake, Rick Ross does the heavy lifting on this track, whereas D.Wade is more of a featured guest. But just like they alluded in the teaser video released earlier this week, this is for Miami, for the culture, for the fans, and for fun. 

So let’s take a minute to breakdown how Flash holds up in what will now be regarded as the theme song for Wade’s L3GACY weekend! 

Intro … Right off the bat, Udonis sounds like he belongs in the booth, whereas Dwyane’s voice… catches you off guard a bit. They shout out their history together and a nod to the three rings on their fingers before the beat drops.

1st Verse … D.Wade hits us with a strong opening line to get the track started. I’m the son of a saint, still considered sinner reaks of Rick Ross’ finest creative greenery, but credit to Flash for nailing the delivery. He weaves through the 1st verse like it’s a classic pick-n-roll, making nods to his stats, fashion, and overall game. Always bet on your homies, then go buy the casino highlights how uplifting of a teammate Wade was. Much better than Dion Waiter’s selfish bet on yourself and then double-down, style of play. His energy really picks up when he gets to the topic of his wife. It’s almost as if you can hear the smile on his face after he mentions her. He then closes out the verse by mentioning his Lamborghini, sneakers, private jets, and money — the basics.

Rick Ross takes over the rest of the track doing what he does best. The lush production hits another level when the hook comes in, sung by Raphel Saadiq. It’s absolutely worth the listen and a cool way to jump-start a memorable weekend for the Miami Heat fans and franchise. Make sure you stick around till the end and catch D. Wade and UD once again resurfacing for the outro to remind us of how hard they worked for 16 seasons.

Three Championship banners in the rafters, three rings on their fingers, and one new single to go with it.

Jason Taylor Foundation overcomes adversity to host 15th Cool Gear for the School Year

Every year, the Jason Taylor Foundation gathers celebrities across South Florida to give kids a chance to start their school year rocking the latest fashion trends. Together with Old Navy, former Dolphins superstar and Hall of Fame pass rusher Jason Taylor has been outfitting students with $300 dollars worth of clothing for 15 years. This year, however, adversity stood in their way.

The Miami Dolphins are currently facing a season where losing will be a common theme. It’s hard to imagine any players wanting to take time out of their day in the face of such hardship. Even worse, Hurricane Dorian threatened to come to South Florida, forcing Cool Gear for the School Year 2019 to be postponed until September 16. Under those circumstances, it makes sense that the overall turnout wouldn’t be as notable as years past.

However, that was anything but the case on Monday evening. The kids still came, the celebrities still contributed, and everything went as smoothly as one could imagine.

“Although the storm didn’t come here, it ended up turning, we had to simply reschedule it.” Jason Taylor said. “That’s the least of our concerns, that’s easy. Old Navy’s easy to work with, and they were all for it. They didn’t want their employees on the road either. So Dorian had very little effect on us. It had a very major effect on our neighbors. We’re still working with the foundation, somehow, someway, we’re gonna do one of these for people over there as well.”

Dedication

That’s an admirable mission, especially considering the level of destruction suffered by the Bahamas at the hands of Dorian. The Jason Taylor Foundation is committed to improving the lives of kids all across South Florida. But it’s now abundantly clear that they aren’t limited to that area. Help is needed everywhere, and they will do what they can to provide.

This event doesn’t happen without an army, however. That’s where the celebrities come in, not the least of which is rising star Jerome Baker. In spite of Miami’s struggles on the field, the Dolphins linebacker and team captain went out of his way to arrive and offer his notoriety to the event. He and fellow captain Walt Aikens walked along with kids and helped them shop for whatever they needed.

“They had a little list, they had everything they wanted, so we were letting them free reign.” Aikens said. “Get whatever they want, they know how to swag it out these days.”

Other celebrity shoppers included several Dolphins alumni, such as O.J. McDuffie, Troy Drayton, Louis Oliver, Jeff Dellenbach, Channing Crowder and more. Their intentions are undoubtedly selfless, but Jerome Baker admitted that doing these events helps him reset and get back into a good place mentally. Given the defeats the Dolphins have suffered as of late, this was a welcome respite.

“It just shows you that football is football, ” He said. “Events like this show you that it’s more than football than just in-between the white lines. A chance to come out here and just to see kids’ faces, to see everybody smile … it kinda brings you back down to reality. Football’s gonna take care of itself. What’s really important is your family, your community, your friends, it’s definitely good.”

Impact

The Jason Taylor Foundation reaches far beyond the world of football. Even Miami Heat star Udonis Haslem attended as a celebrity shopper.

“I got a long relationship with Jason (Taylor) and I’m real supportive of anything he’s doing.” Haslem said. “He’s the same for me and anything I’m doing. It was great to have the opportunity to come out here, I’ve done it before, and it’s always fun. I got three boys, I’m used to shopping for kids, I know what the fashion is, what the style is, I know what they’re looking for so it gets easier every year.”

And every year, the impact of the Jason Taylor Foundation adds up. In 2019, 60 kids from across South Florida went home with new clothes. Over $18,000 was spent in an hour’s time. And over the course of this event’s 15 years, over $260,000 for over 900 kids.

“That’s what we’re about,” said Seth Levit, Executive Director of the Jason Taylor Foundation, as well as one of the hosts for The Fish Tank podcast. “That’s our mission, is to support these young people. That number makes us feel pretty good about the work we’ve been able to do.”

It speaks to the character of those involved that this event still goes off without a hitch. For get-togethers like this, scheduling is everything. But not even a storm like Dorian could keep it from ultimately succeeding. Now, 60 more kids are going to go back to school feeling great about how they look, allowing them to focus on what really matters.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung

O Captain! My Captain! What Haslem return means for Miami Heat

The OG is back to protect the CULTURE for a 17th season. Jimmy Butler was the “orca” acquisition Riley had been craving, but don’t discount the importance of bringing back Mr. 305 for the Miami Heat.

We all know the narrative around Haslem at age 39, UD has seen the twitter chatter too. Yet, anybody who questions what Udonis brings to the Miami Heat locker-room is either blind or ignorant. Rarely does the last man on the roster provide such unmeasurable value and return on investment. He’s more than a player-coach. He’s the literal human embodiment of HEAT CULTURE. That mantra we all love – The Hardest Working Best Conditioned Most Professional Unselfish Toughest Meanest Nastiest Team In The NBA – that IS Udonis Haslem. His entire life-story could be the first chapter in Spoelstra’s Team Handbook, given to players at training camp. 

In 2016, HEAT fans were left bewildered and broken-hearted when Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade went through a bitter divorce. It felt like the world had been turned upside down. The infamous HEAT CULTURE was in peril. Who was there to pick up the pieces and keep it all together? The Captain. And truthfully, besides that season we all wish to forget, UD’s presence has never been more vital inside 601 Biscayne Blvd.

Playing with Udonis Haslem is a right of passage if you’re suiting up for the Miami Heat. That C on his chest wasn’t just given to him. He’s earned it! UD not only gets players to buy into the CULTURE, he enforces it. Just ask Quentin Richardson, who told a fantastic story of Haslem introducing him to HEAT CULTURE on his Knuckleheads podcast. How can we let Jimmy Butler start his Miami Heat tenure without Udonis Haslem by his side? It just wouldn’t feel right. Jimmy yearns to have guys like UD alongside him in the fight. 

Last season was all about celebrating Wade’s One Last Dance tour. This season should be all about passing on the torch to the next generation. The process has already started, especially with Bam, as Haslem noted in an Instagram post that made all of Miami misty-eyed. But his mentorship goes beyond Bam. UD has a tremendous impact on every player that dons a Miami Heat jersey, on and off the court.

Need some proof? Look no further than this exceptional write-up from local legend, Barry Jackson, where Goran Dragic gushes over UD’s importance to this team. He’s clearly Spoelstra’s most trusted advisor and confidant. When a message needs to be delivered to the team, all he has to do is look down the bench at #40. Not only does Udonis know exactly what needs to be said, but it’s the emotion, honesty and Championship experience behind those words, that resonates with players. 

And this season, with the loss of Juwan Howard, who else can Spo lean on to be his “player-liason” when things get a little rocky – because they always do. That’s not a knock on Spoelstra, but we all know his history. At one point it was Fizdale that would help smooth things over between Erik and a player. When Fizz left, that role was handled by Juwan Howard. Well, now Juwan is in Michigan.

Spoelstra needs that extra voice to help instill confidence in whatever decision he’s making. Especially in regards to players falling in and out rotations, sometimes overnight. Nobody knows that better than Udonis who rapidly went from the starting lineup to the end of the bench. That’s something to keep in mind if Spoelstra wants to insert Justise Winslow as his starting PG and have Goran Dragic run the second team. Haslem, the ultimate team first warrior, is the perfect person to help Goran transition mentally into this new role as sixth man and mentor to #PointJustise. 

Point blank, Udonis Haslem can go out anyway he wants. He’s earned that! The man that leads HEAT Nation into a frenzy anytime he hits a baseline jumper, grabs that last rebound, or tell Lance Stephenson that he’s going to f*** him up, and that’s real – a personal favorite of mine.

UD that has shed blood, sweat and tears for the city he loves and the state tattooed on his back.

That type of leadership never gets old. That’s why Miami loves him. 

That’s why #40 will hang in the rafters. 

That is why he’s the Captain.

Is Bam the Heat’s bridge to the future?

There is a lot of buzz around Bam Adebayo.

Especially now that Hassan Whiteside is no longer around.

The Heat’s 2017 first round pick was a metrics standout after he finally replaced Whiteside in the starting lineup last season, and the Heat — publicly and privately — have not been shy about their feelings for him. As long as he doesn’t get traded for someone like Bradley Beal (a story for another day), it appears Adebayo will receive the 30 minutes per night he should, and get a chance to showcase his talents.

But it’s not just the skills the Heat like — it’s his makeup.

On the night he was drafted, a team official told me they had a huge binder on Adebayo, talking to anyone and everyone who knew him, and that official described him as “the anti-Hassan.” Someone who works with the team. Someone who doesn’t need constant validation. Someone who gets it.

And when you get it, you get praise like this from the keeper of Heat culture on your birthday:

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@bam1of1 I'd be lying if I said I've had or could ask for a better young fella!!! As much as you nag, aggravate, and antagonize the hell out of me, you make it a joy to come to work everyday. The way you see the game. The way you approach the game. Who you play for. Why you play. And how you reach your goal of getting there all falls in line with the young UD. Although different styles we not that different at all kid. Been looking for someone to take this shit and run wit it and from where I'm sitting it's you! You have the mold of a lifer!! It was never more evident then watching you finish the season the way you did last year… Never complained. Just lead by example no matter the circumstances mentally or physically. This bout all the good shit you gonna hear from me til next year so enjoy it kid. Lol. We gon have a lil fun for ya bday then it's back to verbally abusing you. Lol. HBD young fella!!! Idk how old yo ass really is but it's still a blessing to see another year!! Lol. Love ya lil bro/son!!! #og

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“Been looking for someone to take this s— and run wit and from where I’m sitting it’s you!”

And of course, the skills do matter.

He showed off some in the Miami Pro League.

Skip to about 1:05.

Yeah, that’s a 7-foot man.

And that’s why I’m saying this: