“He looked at me, and sh*t, I was ready.” Erik Spoelstra called Udonis Haslem’s name, and the 18-year veteran checked into the game for the first time in the 20/21 regular season. Three minutes later, he got ejected.
It took Haslem almost five months to make his season debut, but an altercation with Dwight Howard cut his night short. 2:40 into his performance against the 76ers, with 4 points and 1 rebound next to his name, U.D. got into Howard’s face, and got ejected for it. He became the only player in the last 20 years to play in one game and get ejected from it. But that wasn’t his intention when he checked in with 59.3 seconds left in the first quarter.
I’m in practice every day with these guys, I get my shots up, I play one-on-one with Jimmy, so when I go in a game, it’s not like I haven’t played in a while. I know people don’t actually see me out there on the court, but I fu*king shoot the basketball and pretty much play every day. So when I get out there, as long as my body is in the right position, everything is good.Udonis Haslem, The Long Shot Podcast with Duncan Robinson and Davis Reid
But after Howard threw him to the floor on one possession, Haslem lost it. He got into a scuffle with the Sixers’ big man and got tossed for it. Today, months after it happened, he regrets not being able to play the game out. Especially since he did try to gather his thoughts and stop himself from letting things get out of hand.
I fu*ked that up. I fu*ked that up. I thought about it in my head, ‘should I let this go?‘ If you see when I fell on the ground, I thought for a second. I said, ‘fu*k it,’ and I just couldn’t let it go.Udonis Haslem, The Long Shot Podcast with Duncan Robinson and Davis Reid
Haslem’s teammate Duncan Robinson asked him whether the fact Dwight was on the other side had something to do with his reaction. In other words, if that was somebody else, would he be more inclined to let it go.
Hell no! But that has something to do with it. Because he throws motherfuc*ers down, I watch him throw somebody down every game; that’s not even a basketball play; I’m not going to let you throw me down; I’ll poke your fu*king eye out.Udonis Haslem, The Long Shot Podcast with Duncan Robinson and Davis Reid
Despite it not being Haslem’s intention, he did set the tone for the rest of the game — the Heat ended up winning 106-94. But more importantly, he showed young guys in Miami’s locker room how to stand up for themselves, not allowing anyone in the league to push them around.
But even that wasn’t his intention. When he got into the game, Haslem wanted to play it out. Spoelstra wanted that too. That’s why he was frustrated after U.D. got ejected. “Spo just looking at me, shaking his head,” Udonis said. “I’m like, ‘fu*k Spo, I know man.'”
He couldn’t help himself and that was the last time we’ve seen Haslem in the Heat uniform during the 20/21 regular season. Luckily, he signed another contract — the 10th of his career — assuring he’ll be back for his 19th NBA season. Hopefully, with more than 2:40 spent on the floor.