Udonis Haslem, the forward for the Miami Heat, declared on Sunday afternoon that he would be joining the team for his final and 20th season. Haslem announced it while holding his Miami youth basketball camp.
Haslem, 42 years old, will become one of only two players in league history to play for the same team for 20 or more seasons when he steps on the court with the Heat in the fall, joining Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. He left the University of Florida undrafted in 2002, has won three championships with the Heat and holds the record for most rebounds in Miami’s history.
“I have decided to follow through on what I and my father had talked about, and I will finish what I started,” Haslem said.
“I will play for 20 years. I will play this year. “
“It won’t be the same; it won’t be as easy. But the goal still remains the same: Win. Win a championship. Leave it on the line. Hold your head high when it’s all over. I’ve got one more in me for pops. I’ve got one more in me for the city. I’ve got one more in me for the team.”
Haslem’s father had passed away at the beginning of the previous season. When he came back, he said it was “probably the toughest time I’ve ever had to deal with.” Haslem stated that his father wanted him to play in the league for 20 seasons and that he intends to do so even though he won’t have his father by his side for this season.
Haslem played more of a player-coach role for the Heat over the past seven years, but in his earlier years, he played a crucial role in Miami’s three championship victories. Though he no longer gets as much playing time as he once did, he has been instrumental in the growth of the Heat’s younger players, including Bam Adebayo.
The Miami Heat featured him in 13 games last season, which he finished, averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Moreover, in the past six seasons, he appeared in 58 games, but during the postseason, he didn’t play a single game.
Haslem, a native of Miami, has established himself as a leader in the city’s society and will now finish his career with the team he has only ever represented.