‘Legacy Player’: Pat Riley Welcomes Back Miami Heat Legend


Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat stretches prior to the game against the New York Knicks at American Airlines Arena on February 09, 2021 in Miami, Florida.


Udonis Haslem officially signed his one-year contract to return to the Miami Heat on Monday. The 6-foot-8 big man will be playing in his 19th NBA season, a franchise record.

Haslem, a three-time champion, currently holds the longest streak by any active player with only one team in the league. He is also the lone undrafted player in NBA history to lead a franchise in total rebounds (5,755) and has served as Heat captain in 14 straight seasons, the longest tenure in team history.

Team president Pat Riley has long considered Haslem a living embodiment of “Miami Heat Culture” and didn’t mince any words in his comments welcoming the Miami native back.

“Mister Miami is back!” Riley said in a statement. “Yes! Udonis Haslem has agreed to come back and play the game he loves so much. What he loves more than that is to be on the court teaching and competing against the World’s best. UD is a legacy player…ONE PLAYER, ONE CITY, ONE TEAM. Thank you, UD, for coming back to lead again in your city, your organization and your team.”

There had been talk of Haslem transitioning into some kind of coaching role, but the competitive veteran appears intent on lacing them up as a player for at least one more year.

And Haslem has gone on record in the past saying that he doesn’t see himself getting into coaching, not in his DNA — although Riley thinks he’d be an “exceptional coach.”

“He told me that he’s not finished yet with these guys,” Riley said of Haslem in 2019, after UD turned down a coaching offer. “He feels like he could do some more mentoring and that can be done in any capacity, whether he wants to play or it’s in another capacity.”


Recognizing Haslem’s Accomplishments

Longevity doesn’t always lead to or indicate great success. In Haslem’s case, it has and his many accomplishments speak volumes to what he has meant to the Heat franchise.

Haslem has averaged 7.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game over 18 NBA seasons. He ranks among the Heat all-time leaders in games played (2nd – 859), starts (2nd – 500), minutes (2nd – 21,565), and double-doubles (4th – 134).

“These guys trust me. Not just because of what I’ve done in the past, but because they see me in the gym with ‘em,” Haslem said in 2020, via The Ringer. “I don’t just sit around and expect to be listened to. I’m going to earn these guys’ respect with the way I approach practice, the way I approach film sessions, the way I approach weight room workouts. That’s the difference between me and a coach.”

Heat Own Fourth-Best Odds in East

Miami owns the fourth-best odds to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. At 11-to-1, the Heat trail only the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers.

So Las Vegas sees their whirlwind offseason – one that netted them six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry – as a pivotal step in pushing them over the championship hump. The Heat also added Markieff Morris and PJ Tucker, then re-signed Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon, Victor Oladipo

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