Life in the NBA goes by quickly. One minute you’re a fresh-faced rookie ready to take the league by storm, and next minute you’re on the bench wondering if it’s time to hang it up and enjoy the free time with entertainment on one of the best betting sites .
Sometimes players hang on longer than they should in hopes of recapturing that magic from their younger years, holding on to that old flame. And some players realize when it’s time to go.
For Udonis Haslem, he’s quite confident that time is now. At age 38, Haslem is the fourth oldest player in the league behind Vince Carter (41), Dirk Nowitzki (40) and Jamal Crawford (who is a few months older than Haslem).
Haslem’s teammate, Dwyane Wade, announced prior to the start of the season that this would be his final season. He re-signed with the Miami HEAT on a one-year deal with the intention of retiring at the end of the season.
Haslem also re-signed with the HEAT on a one-year deal this past summer and talked with Basketball Insiders about his plans for the end of the season.
“I’m gonna call it done too. There’s nothing else left for me to do on the basketball court,” Haslem told Basketball Insiders. “My kids are getting older, my son is playing college football at the University of Toledo, my 11-year-old is playing travel baseball and I never see him as he’s always out of town. My eight year old is playing travel basketball. There’s so many other things for me to be engaged in right now.”
When Haslem and Wade hang it up after this season, LeBron James will be the final member of the HEAT’s 2013 championship team still in the league. The others are either retired, or the ones still playing are all overseas.
That’s not to say that Haslem can’t still contribute to an NBA team. He’s kept himself in tremendous shape and even now he’s ready to go should his name be called. He’s only played in three games this season with a career-low 4.7 minutes per game.
However, on Dec. 8 in a big road win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Haslem played a season-high eight minutes. Due to multiple injuries that night, Haslem’s number was called. He pulled down four rebounds and gave the HEAT a physical presence on the defensive end as he’s always done his entire career.
Haslem recognizes that his role on the team has changed over the years, but he’s staying ready no matter what.
“My role is a little bit different now, my role is whatever is needed each night. Being down some guys, I was called upon to play. We were down two guys and I was called upon to go out there and contribute and give them some minutes,” Haslem told Basketball Insiders after the game. “70 percent of the time my contributions are my voice, my leadership, my experience, and everything I can give to these guys.”
Along with his longevity in the NBA, one of the main things Haslem has prided himself on is being able to play his entire career with one franchise. Wade might have come close to being able to say that, but he spent a year in Chicago and then half a season in Cleveland before returning to South Beach.
Growing up in Miami, Haslem has been the hometown hero. He went undrafted in the 2002 NBA draft, but the HEAT gave him his first chance a year later. Over the years, he established himself as a tough, defensive-minded player who wasn’t afraid to dish out some hard fouls. He could also score as well. He had four seasons where he averaged double-figures in points, and he had 17 points in the 2006 title-clinching Game 6 against the Dallas Mavericks.
He had opportunities to leave the HEAT throughout his career, such as the time the Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets came calling with big offers in the summer of 2010. Each time though, he always opted to stay home.
“It’s rare, it’s something I can always take with me. A lot of guys can’t say that in this league. In this time, you change cities, you change teams, loyalty is kind of forgotten,” Haslem told Basketball Insiders. “To be able to say that, to be able to say I played for my organization my whole career, and not just played for one organization but had success individually and collectively as a team.”
And as the sun begins to set on his 16-year NBA career, Haslem wants to be remembered as a guy who did whatever was asked of him. A guy that his teammates knew they could go to war with every single night.
“Just a leader, a leader, and a winner. I’m a guy that did whatever it takes to get the job done, I told Dwyane [Wade] that the other day. My motivation whenever I stepped on the floor was to just be a guy that everyone can depend on,” Haslem told Basketball Insiders. “Playing with LeBron and playing with Chris Bosh, playing with Dwyane, Ray Allen, these superstar kind of guys, I wanted to be a guy that they knew they could depend on every night. Whatever was needed to bring to the table, I was going to bring that.”
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