If there’s a player that personifies the Miami Heat, it wouldn’t be Dwyane Wade or Alonzo Mourning. That title would go to Udonis Haslem. His story represents “the Heat way” – hard work, complete dedication, no excuses.
After going undrafted in 2002, Haslem signed for Chalon-Sur-Saône in France. He arrived there, weighing nearly 300 pounds. Eight months later, he was at 250. Udonis came back to the US and received an invitation to work out for his hometown Miami Heat. Haslem was born in Miami, went to elementary school, high school and college in Miami – playing for the Heat would be a dream come true.
But, getting a roster spot through training camps is the longest of shots. Haslem was ready to stand out from the group of 4 or 5 guys fighting for the same spot there. Upon arrival, he realized it was more like 40 to 50 guys. His confidence started to drop. Udonis wasn’t sure was he there because the Heat liked him or just as an extra to provide competition for the real candidates?
U.D. came prepared to stand out in a group of 5. He now had to stand out in a group of 50. His mentality stayed the same; Haslem was ready to show he was ready to go the extra mile.
“For me, it was the simplest play that defined my career early, who I was and what type of person I was. Practicing one day, we going 5-on-5, we going live, shot goes off, and the ball bounces off, rolls towards half-court. Everybody stops – I just chase it, and I grab it. Coach Riley blows the whistle and asks me, “Why didn’t you stop?” At this point, I think I did something wrong. I was like, “Nobody blew the whistle; the play was still going” Literally, something as small as that was huge and catapulted my career.”Udonis Haslem, Officialize
Later that day, Riley called Haslem into his office to let him know he made the team and will be playing for the Miami Heat. 857 games later, Udonis Haslem is a 3 time NBA champion and banked in over $60 million.
Second in minutes (behind Dwyane Wade) and first in rebounds, Haslem’s placement in Heat history books let you know what kind of player he is and why Pat Riley keeps convincing U.D. to play “just one more year.” All because he chased a loose ball.