Udonis Haslem recently announced that he will be returning for his 20th NBA season. Haslem has spent his entire career with the Miami Heat. In light of that fact, let’s take a look at how he got to this point. Here is Udonis Haslem’s journey from going undrafted to becoming a Miami Heat legend.
Udonis Haslem’s Journey: The 2002 NBA Draft
Udonis Haslem originally went undrafted in 2002. The majority of mock drafts had him going undrafted, so this was not entirely surprising. Haslem joined the Atlanta Hawks for training camp but they released him before the 2002-03 NBA season started. As a result, Haslem signed a contract to play basketball with Chalon-Sur-Saone in the French basketball league.
While there, Haslem averaged 16.1 points and 9.4 rebounds. He only played one season in France. Haslem signed with the Miami Heat on August 6, 2003. In his rookie season, he made it onto the All-Rookie Second Team and helped the Heat reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Haslem started every game of the 2004-05 season and averaged 10.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. Following this season, Haslem re-signed with the Miami Heat in August 2005.
Haslem Wins His First NBA Championship
The 2005-06 season was a memorable one for the Heat and for Haslem. With Dwyane Wade emerging into a star and the recent acquisition of Lakers superstar Shaquille O’Neal, the Heat were poised for a championship run. The Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in their history after defeating the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games.
Haslem averaged 8.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in the 2006 NBA playoffs. Haslem had 17 points and 10 rebounds in game 6 of the 2006 NBA Finals. This helped the Heat win the game 95-92 and win their first-ever NBA championship. In the following season, Haslem scored a career-high 28 points in a win over the New Jersey Nets.
Haslem Wins Back-to-back Titles with the Big 3 Heat
Haslem, like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Both, accepted a smaller contract to play for the Heat. Haslem signed a five-year, $20 million contract to remain in Miami. Haslem helped the Heat make to the NBA Finals in 2012 where the franchise won its second championship.
During the 2012-2013 season, Haslem became the Heat’s franchise leader in total rebounds. He surpassed Alonzo Mourning for this honor. Haslem also won a third championship with the Heat as they defeated the Spurs in seven games.
Udonis Haslem’s Journey: Haslem’s Later Years
Haslem’s playing time has decreased ever since the 2013-2014 season. He reached the NBA Finals with the Heat in 2014 but the Heat lost to the Spurs in five games. Haslem has since become a leading figure in the Heat’s locker room and one of the emotional leaders of the team. Haslem also has the distinction of being the oldest player in the last 20 years to be ejected in an NBA game.
That happened on May 13, 2021, in a game against the 76ers. Despite his lack of playing time, Haslem is still well-respected by the Miami Heat and their fans. Haslem has already defied expectations by having a long and productive NBA career despite going undrafted in 2002.
Udonis Haslem Is Coming Back for One More Season
Haslem is returning to the Miami Heat once again next season. He will play his 20th season of NBA basketball. Hopefully, he can end his career with one more championship. Given how last season went, it makes sense to bet on the Heat being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Check back in next week for more Miami Heat content.