LeBron James and Steph Curry are basketball's biggest stars, there is no question about that. Their dominance, talent, and electric personalities have made them the perfect players to represent the game.
Still, it is neither of them who holds the reputation as the most widely respected and revered.
According to Nets forward Blake Griffin, Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem has that title.
On a recent edition of Barstool's "Pardon my Take" podcast, Blake Griffin joined the show to open packs of basketball cards. As Blake and the Barstool crew worked through the packs, they would often stop and talk about the player they just pulled. When Udonis Haslem's card popped up, Blake shared some very high praise.
When asked if Haslem is universally respected, Griffin responded not only by saying yes, but also added that Haslem has to have the highest approval rating in the league amongst his NBA peers. At age 41, it was recently announced that Haslem would be returning for a 19th season with the Miami Heat.
Udonis has always been described as a pure professional.
Since being picked up in 2003, he has played his role to perfection, averaging 7.6 points and 6.7 rebounds per game on 49% shooting for his career.
He has built up quite a relationship with his fellow players over the years, including Dwyane Wade, who once called Haslem his favorite teammate ever:
“That’s a tough question right there because your favorite teammate is not normally the names that people know so it’s not normally the star players right everybody wants me to say LeBron," Wade said.
"We came in together but whenever I was in the club, whenever I was out anywhere in Miami, whenever I was on the court, UD have my back.
We started building a brotherhood. So obviously we got closer, and we won championships together you know I mean we did all that but like off the court I ain’t never had to worry about nothing in Miami because it’s like ‘yo UD got me’.”
It seems clear that UD is a loyal, ride-or-die type of guy, and exactly the type of person players want in their locker room.
It's no wonder why, at 41-years-old and 18 seasons into his career, he's still providing a spark for the Miami Heat.