Udonis Haslem, has spent the last 13 years playing for his home NBA team, the Miami Heat, and is now entering his 14th year in the league at the age of 36.
This will not be like any other season, however, as he faces his first NBA season without Dwyane Wade as a teammate, who joined the Heat in 2003 alongside Haslem, before winning three NBA titles together with the franchise.
Wade instead opted to move back to his own home city of Chicago this past summer, instead of re-signing with the organisation where he has built up legend status.
“My heart dropped,” Haslem told The Vertical of the moment he saw Wade’s text that he was joining the Chicago Bulls, “That was a tough one to take.”
He, of course, understands the added draw of playing for the franchise you have always supported more than most, having done so for more than a decade, so does not begrudge his friend for making the choice.
Haslem commented: “I know what it is, to be able to represent your home and play in front of your home crowd every night and fight for your city.”
“I hated to see him go, but at the end of the day I can’t lie, I was happy for him, he looked good in a Bulls jersey,” before adding he will never forget what they accomplished together.
“All the time I think about. It was a blessing, an amazing experience, I don’t think anybody is going to be able to do it like that again,” Haslem said.
Wade will not be the only long-time star Haslem and the Heat will be missing when the new season starts in just a few weeks, as Chris Bosh’s failed physical means it is unlikely he will wear a Heat uniform again.
This leaves Haslem as the last man standing from the Heat’s championship sides of recent years, something which has surprised him: “I never envisioned this. The only thing I know is I’m ready to accept the challenge. Because of the years I’ve been with this organisation it’s all prepared me.”