Next week, Mr. 305 will be deservedly honored for 20 seasons of service to the team and community by the Miami Heat.
Born and raised in downtown Miami, few players, in any sport, are as identified with their hometown as Udonis Haslem.
And yet, over the past two decades, Mr. 305 was actually Mr. 954, living first in Davie after joining the Heat and now in the semi-rural setting of Southwest Ranches.
This in no way meant turning his back on his roots, so often found in Miami-Dade with its philanthropic and entrepreneurial endeavors.
Just a husband and father, like many husbands and fathers, seeking a better life for his family that he could only imagine growing up.
For Haslem, Broward is the oasis, while Miami-Dade remains the pride.
The tranquility of the suburbs, he said, allows passion to flourish both in the resort and in the community when it crosses the county border.
“I’ve always wanted dirt,” the 42-year-old Heat captain said recently in his locker at Miami-Dade Arena. “There’s not a lot of land in Miami. You can get half an acre, an acre lot. But I needed four acres and I knew where I could find it.
“I wanted my own peace and my own little compound. And when I get away from everything I have to deal with, I can go out there and recharge and do whatever I need to do and get ready for the next day.”
And, yes, like the rest of South Florida commuters, there is a tradeoff, the traffic tradeoff.
The timing of many Heat practices and shootouts means morning rush hour.
“You have to ask my drivers,” Haslem said with a laugh when asked about the morning’s chaos. “I am in my room. The fact that I’m in the room probably tells you what it’s been like for them.
“I actually find it therapeutic. It’s one of the few times I get peace and quiet. I can control my own time. As for my share at home, my time belongs to my wife and children. When I’m here in the arena, my time is for the Heat and the team. So the unit is my time. Sometimes I listen to the Isley Brothers, which was my dad’s favorite group.”
What Haslem doesn’t let get lost along the way is what the 305 means to him and how that passion must resonate even as he raises his family in a different environment.
“I’m very careful about it, that they’re privileged, that it’s not reality,” he said of his Southwest Ranches complex. “And I make sure I take them with me when I do charity stuff so they can see the other side and what some people’s lives are like and not just us.”
But, he said, there’s no question that he’s also a reformed Dade dad.
“They like to crack a joke when I get a little irritated,” he said of his three children. “They like to say their Dade County dad leaves, unlike the dad they have now. So they understand the rougher, rougher side of things where I come from, real downtown Miami.”
With Liberty City continuing to resonate.
“I take them to my grandma’s house, where we always spent so much time as kids,” he said. “Unfortunately, my grandmother’s house burned down in a fire, so I was happy to have the chance for them to see this in Liberty City. It was a year ago, her house caught fire.
“So they saw where I came from, where it all started and what life was like. And they also understand why I work so hard to give them what they have, a better life. And I think I have good kids who are grateful. They are not ungrateful.”
ON THE TRACK
EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE: From the moment the Milwaukee Bucks offered him the first of two 10-day contracts to his final guarantee for the season balance, the former Heat center Meyers Leonard was effusive in his appreciation for this opportunity for a second chance in the NBA after his career was derailed for two years following the anti-Semitic slur he uttered while playing a video game in 2021. “They changed my life,” Leonard told the Journal Sentinel . “They really did. It’s going to be hard for me not to get emotional right now. It’s honestly hard to describe what that feeling feels like.” It has been, said Leonard, 31, a long, reflective and contrite road. “One day I’ll be able to say to my son, ‘Hey, these are the people who believed in me, gave me a second chance. It literally changed my life.’ I love basketball, I do, but they changed my life. And that helped me in some way to put the incident behind me.”
VETERAN’S PERSPECTIVE: so there is Jae Crowder, Leonard’s former Heat teammate during the run-up to the 2020 NBA Finals, who is also experiencing a renaissance with the Bucks. coach bucks Mike Budenholzer said the veteran forward has proven to be a quick study since he was signed at the NBA’s trade deadline of Feb. 9. “Sometimes he is doing what we should be doing [that] guys who have been here for five years aren’t doing it. I don’t understand,” Budenholzer told The Arizona Republic. “He’s on point. He’s sharp. The attention to detail is very present and much appreciated, and this is coming to a mid-season team at the trade deadline.
LP PERSPECTIVE: The voice of reason last season with the Heat, PJ Tucker is trying to offer the same to the Philadelphia 76ers. Having lost in the Eastern Conference Finals as the No. 1 seed to the Heat last season, the veteran said there’s no reason to get too caught up in the rankings, having won an NBA title as the No. 1 seed. 3 with the Bucks. in 2021. “Now it’s funny, because of all the jostling for a playoff position and everyone trying to figure out the seed,” Tucker told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For me, I’ve said it countless times: I don’t care about the seedings. I’m more about how my team is feeling.” The Heat and 76ers have one game left, on April 6 in Philadelphia, with a possible first-round matchup between the teams.
NCAA PERSPECTIVE: With Reggie Miller opting out of NCAA Tournament broadcast job, former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy was added to the television mix. That got him reflecting for the Orlando Sentinel on his only coaching season at Wisconsin, which led to his landing the following year, in 1995-96, as an assistant with the Heat to Pat Riley. “We didn’t have as good a year as we should have had the first season, so you have to own up to that as a coach,” Van Gundy said of his stint with the Badgers. “Being fired certainly hurt at the time, but I was very lucky because I was fired a few months before Pat Riley left for the Miami Heat, and that gave me the chance to break into the NBA. So, no, I’m not bitter yet, because I think the NBA was a better fit for me as a coach than college.”
PERSONALITY PERSPECTIVE: Considering his stops since his Heat tenure have been with the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons, and now the sub-.500 Utah Jazz, a former Heat big man Kelly Olynyk continued to earn respect as an unwavering teammate no matter the situation. “Kelly is connective tissue. He’s definitely not talked about enough,” Coach Jazz Will Hardy told the Deseret News. “But he is a great luxury for our team.” Houston Rockets Coach Stephen Silas agreed: “When we were really down as a group, he was a breath of fresh air coming in here and showing his professionalism.” Olynyk, 31, will likely hit the free agent market in the offseason, with just $3 million of his $12.2 million 2023-24 salary guaranteed if waived by June 28.
24-13. Heat record at home with four home games remaining this season, already with one more home loss than last season, when they finished 29-12. The Heat were 21-15 at home in the 2020-21 abbreviated season and 27-5 at home in the 2019-20 abbreviated season. The last time the Heat had a losing record at home was when they went 19-22 in 2018-19.
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