MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Anyone saying Dwyane Wade is the heart of the Miami Heat wouldn’t be wrong, but they wouldn’t necessarily be right either.
Udonis Haslem is South Florida born and bred. He’s been a major part of the team since first being signed back in 2003.
Haslem is creating jobs, while working toward getting his Heat job back for another season.
Haslem has had talks with the Heat in recent days as he continues working through the process of deciding whether to return for a 16th season.
There is no timetable for a decision, but there are now indications that he is clearly leaning toward a return.
“It was a great conversation,” Haslem said at the opening of his latest Einstein Bros. Bagels, one of several franchises that he and his business partners have collaborated on in the Miami area in recent years. “At the end of the day, it’s was a conversation about if they want me back and if I want to be back.”
He’s also planning a meeting with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra in the coming days. Heat officials, including team president Pat Riley, have said they want Haslem back.
Haslem’s on-court role has been limited over the last three years. He appeared in only 14 games last season, all off the bench, and hasn’t gotten more than 20 minutes in any game since Jan. 1, 2017.
But his voice in the locker room is vital. The 38-year-old Miami native remains one of the team’s captains, and it’s not uncommon for him to mentor teammates on the bench during games or raise his voice at halftime — even before coaches enter the room — when things are not going to his liking. Even this week, several Heat players joined him for his usual midday outdoor workout under the sweltering Miami sun.
“I was glad to have them,” Haslem said. “It’s usually lonely out there.”
He’s taken the same approach that he’s brought to basketball to the business world. Haslem and his partners have created well over 200 jobs with their food-service ventures, with more projects looming.
“I like being invested in the things I’m investing in,” Haslem said. “I don’t just sit around and wait for the check. My life has pretty much become basketball, working out, business and my family. Those are my four vices.”
Haslem has played with 126 different Heat teammates, not even counting those players who were signed for training camps and never actually appeared in a regular-season or playoff game. His return for a 16th year would mean that he’s been with the franchise for more than half its history; the Heat had played 15 seasons before he signed with them in 2003.
For his career, Haslem has averaged 7.7 points and 6.8 rebounds. He was a starter on the Heat championship clubs in 2006, 2012 and 2013.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)