US basketball

Udonis Haslem returning to Heat for 20th season

Udonis Haslem returning to Heat for 20th season

VETERAN PRESENCE. The Heat consider Udonis Haslem as a valuable leader in the locker room and on the bench.

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Heat veteran Udonis Haslem will join Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki and Lakers legend Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to play 20 seasons for only one franchise

Udonis Haslem is returning for a 20th season with the Miami Heat.

He made the announcement Sunday, August 21, at the youth camp bearing his name. The Miami Herald said he is expected to sign a one-year deal at a veteran’s minimum of $2.8 million.

Haslem, 42, is a local product who led Miami Senior High School to state titles in 1997 and 1998 before playing in college at Florida. Undrafted, he played one season in Europe before joining the Heat ahead of the 2003-04 season.

The 6-foot-8 Haslem is the longest-tenured player in Heat history and has been a part of all three NBA titles won by the franchise – in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

He has played sparingly the past three seasons. In 2021-22, he appeared in 13 games, averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game.

But Heat owner Micky Arison, president Pat Riley, and head coach Erik Spoelstra consider him a valuable leader in the locker room and on the bench. And last year, Haslem said he’d like to reach 20 seasons, in part to honor his late father, Johnnie, who passed away last Aug. 30.

“If I can get 20 years, it’ll be an amazing career for a kid that no one thought would play in the league,” Haslem told GQ. “All my sacrifices, everything I’ve given, the only thing I’ve asked for is to try to get to 20. I wanna give that to myself, and I wanted to give it to my father.”

In 872 career games (500 starts) Haslem has averaged 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds.

Only eight NBA players have played 20 seasons and Haslem will join Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant as the only two to play for only one franchise.

Among active players, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony also have played 19 seasons. –

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