Udonis Haslem was by far the longest-tenured player with the same team still active in the league last season as he was in the midst of his 19th season with the Miami Heat, and the two sides aren't parting ways just yet. There were doubts regarding Haslem returning for a 20th season, but he revealed on Sunday that he is coming back.
By doing so, he will become just the third player in NBA history to spend 20 seasons with one team, after Kobe Bryant with the Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki with the Mavericks. Haslem is no longer a factor on the court, though, but he remains very influential off it as one of their leaders, and his presence is appreciated by everybody in the organization. He once revealed how he and Jimmy Butler led by example in the Bubble, as they didn't want to show their teammates that they were getting too comfortable.
“You got to get leaders like me and Jimmy,” Haslem said. “Action reflects leadership. When you see how I approach every day, and when you see how we approach every day in the bubble, ain’t really here trying to be friends with nobody. I might have spoken to about five people outside of my teammates since I’ve been here. I didn’t leave my room until my wife got here. That was about a week and a half ago. I ain’t slept in the bed. I’m sleeping on the couch. Jimmy sleeps on his couch, too. That ain’t nothing planned. That’s just how it happens. …
“I didn’t want to get too comfortable. I didn’t want to feel like home. I don’t want to get relaxed. I want to keep my edge. I want to stay focused on the task at hand. So, I’m sleeping on the couch right now, dog, with a room full of Chunky soup.”
That is definitely an interesting way to lead, and the Heat did make it all the way to the Finals in the Bubble, so perhaps it did work to some extent after all. His return here is definitely a boost for the team, as they look to go one step further next season, having lost in 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals this past postseason.
Haslem also released a statement regarding his decision to come back, as he called himself the bearer of Heat culture. He stated that he wanted to continue to be a part of this culture that has saved so many players, including himself. Those on the outside may look down on Heat culture, but it does seem to have helped many over the years.