After 20 years as a professional basketball player, Udonis Haslem‘s role in the Miami squad goes far beyond playing on court. During the Eastern Conference Final series against Boston, the “NBA on TNT” openly criticized the 42-year-old for not truly taking part in his team’s court success.
In a recent interview before Monday’s Game 7, Udonis called out the panel of analysts, even going all the way to say that he would “tear their a** up.”
During the meeting with the press, he was asked how good it felt to score 24 points in his final regular season game back in April, showing everyone around that “he still got it.”
“Oh, hell, yeah,” Haslem answered with pride. “Listen, I couldn’t wait. I read. I hear all the comments, and even some of my peers, every now and then they got jokes to crack. But I bust their a– too.
“Some of the guys that sit up in there behind them suits at TNT, and they got jokes; I would tear their a– up. I ain’t up here smoking cigarettes and eating chicken. I’m getting work done, man.”
Take a look at the veteran’s highlights from the mentioned 24-point performance against Orlando this season:
“That’s what I try to tell people all the time. What people don’t understand is the reverse effect of this is, if I’m not in shape and if I can’t compete, then [my teammates] don’t listen to me. If I can’t do this, they going to be like, ‘Man, OK, respectfully, OG, we love you, but get your a– out of here,” Haslem explained.
It’s been quite a while since last time the 42-year-old participated in at least 37 games in a single season, as the last time he’d done so was almost eight years ago. Udonis only competed in seven games this regular campaign, and has registered 2:30 minutes of play in these current playoffs.
Who will replace Haslem in Miami once he finally hangs up his basketball shoes?
It would be prudent to acknowledge that the veteran’s impact must not be measured in numbers, as his true influence has come as a mentor for younger talents and a locker room leader who is listened by all when he decides to speak his mind.
“I don’t know if it would just be just one person,” Haslem said when asked if he could be replaced. “So, it’s going to be collective. A lot of collective voices and a lot of collective leadership. But there’s no doubt in my mind that these guys will figure it out. They’ll get it done.”
The most sensitive subject came at the end of the interview, as it was time to address the fact that Udonis decided that this is the perfect time to retire from professional basketball after 20 years in the game.
“I’ve lost time. Things that I don’t get back. I lost both my parents,” the 42-year-old expressed. “So, in the midst of doing so much giving, and it’s been amazing, I’ve lost so much time. And I lost so many things that I can’t get back.
“And I’m just getting to the point where I’m realizing all the people that have sacrificed for me to be in this position. The reality is I won’t have them forever. And I think it’s time to start giving back to those people.”