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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem is on the cusp of breaking a team record long held by former center Alonzo Mourning.
Haslem is set to break the record of most rebounds in Miami Heat history Wednesday night. Currently, Haslem has 4,806 rebounds in his Heat career. The record is 4,807 rebounds set by Mourning.
For a player who wasn’t drafted out of the University of Florida, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he knows the moment will be “pretty special.”
“It’s a great story, coming from Liberty City, not being drafted and absolutely earning everything he’s gotten in this league and for this organization,” Spoelstra said. “We have core values for this organization. We can list them for you, we can define them for you, or we can just give a picture of UD. That will tell the whole story.”
Haslem has a chance to set the record on Wednesday in the AmericanAirlines Arena when the Heat plays the Milwaukee Bucks. Miami will play 10 of its next 11 games at home after completing a six-game road trip. The Heat finished 4-2 on the road trip.
Haslem, if all goes to plan, won’t be starting any of those games. He ceded that role in 2009, saying at the time it was best for the team. A year earlier as a starter, he grabbed 618 rebounds. That next season, playing exclusively as a reserve, he grabbed 629 rebounds — despite playing six fewer minutes a night.
And if becoming Miami’s top rebounder wasn’t enough, the chance to earn that title at home — the Heat play their next four games on their home floor, so the odds are pretty high that even if it doesn’t happen Wednesday, Haslem will find those two boards before the team hits the road again — adds plenty more significance to the hometown guy.
“To do it in front of my family, in front of my friends, so many people that I love and care about, in front of my home fans that have supported me for so long, it’s going to be a great accomplishment,” Haslem said.
Haslem defends centers who are half-a-foot taller and in some cases half-a-foot wider, he plays through injuries whenever possible, and one of the iconic images of last season’s playoff run came when he was bloodied in a game against the Indiana Pacers.
The Heat later handed out bandages that said UD-40, his moniker and jersey number, to fans as a tribute.
Soon, there will be another tribute: The team is already planning to collect the ball that will soon become rebound No. 4,808, ensuring the little piece of history gets to stay in Haslem’s hands permanently.
“It’s pride,” Haslem said. “It’s just mental toughness. … The way I was going to make my niche to make this team was to hit the boards and rebound. It’s just a tribute to my mindset. If you put your mind to it, and I know people say it a lot, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it. I wasn’t a great rebounder in college. Not nearly what I am now. I just really focused in and put my mind on chasing the boards.”
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)