Heat’s Udonis Haslem returns for 20th season – Reading Eagle

The Miami Heat veteran is all in for the final season.

Udonis Haslem announced Sunday that he is signing another season with the organization after contemplating retirement this summer. He broke the news on the last day of his basketball and cheer camp held at Miami High School, his alma mater.

Haslem, 42, is the oldest active player in the NBA and enters his 20th season in the league, all with the Heat after going undrafted out of the University of Florida in 2003. He is the organization’s all-time leading tackler, second only to Dwyane Wade in tackles, and ranks in the top 10 all-time in numerous Heat statistical categories, including blocks, steals, sacks, field goals and attempts.

His career averages are 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, but his impact extends far beyond the hardwood.

In addition to being a key member of each of Miami’s three championship teams, Haslem has also become the symbol and embodiment of the organization’s signature culture, making sure everyone on the roster lives up to the extremely high standards set by team president Pat Riley and that flow throughout the building.

The precedent he set in the building greatly influenced other Heat stars such as Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herra.

“How he helps me prepare for the fight is unreal. He’s been through it all and seen it all,” Adebayo told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes in May. “And in practice, he’s one of the toughest guys you’ll run into. It can do nothing but make me better. You have to pay attention when he speaks because you know it comes from a desire to see us all reach our heights.”

Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra have repeatedly noted how important he is to carrying the DNA of those title-winning teams into the current young core that has reached the Eastern Conference finals in two of the last three seasons.

Although his minutes per game have declined over the past few seasons, Haslem has served as almost another bench coach, always animated and ready to give his team a stern talking to when needed.

“You couldn’t ask for a better, more dedicated leader to continue to be involved and help improve our program,” Spoelstra told Yahoo Sports. Players think they are willing to do whatever it takes until they are asked to sacrifice. UD optimizes what is a real winner in every way.”

While he’s not quite ready to hang it up just yet, there’s no doubt that Haslem’s No. 40 jersey will be hanging from the rafters at FTX Arena when it’s all said and done.

This story will be updated.


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