Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem is coming back for his 20th NBA season. The 42-year-old made the announcement Sunday at his basketball camp in Miami.
“I have decided to follow through with what me and my father had talked about, and I will finish what I started, and I will play 20 years,” Haslem said, seated at midcourt at Miami High, his alma mater. “I will play this year because I talked about that with my father, and that’s what we said we would do. It won’t be the same. Won’t be as easy. But the goal remains the same. Win. Win a championship. Leave it on the line and hold your head high when it’s all over.”
Haslem’s deal is for one year and worth $2.9 million; Miami extended the offer nearly two months ago, then waited for Haslem to decide between retiring and returning.
A beloved member of the Heat organization, Haslem acknowledged after the season he was unsure whether he would return for another year.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has repeatedly noted how much of an impact Haslem’s presence and leadership have on the team on a day-to-day basis.
Haslem joins legends Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks as the only NBA players to play 20 or more seasons for a single franchise, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Haslem is a three-time NBA champion with Miami and is the franchise’s all-time rebound leader. This contract is the 11th he has signed with the Heat, and this marks the seventh consecutive summer in which he has signed a deal with the team.
His father, Johnnie Haslem, died on Aug. 30, 2021. Udonis Haslem spent about two weeks away from the Heat at the start of camp and the preseason last year while grieving, and he said not having either of his parents still alive forced him to reevaluate many things in the past year.
“Even at 42, you look around, and you don’t have both of your parents, you can be confused,” Haslem said. “It can be confusing. … But never have I been more clear than I am now. I just had to clear the cobwebs out.”
Haslem was the oldest player to appear in each of the past two NBA seasons. He got into 13 games with Miami last season, averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds. He has averaged 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in his first 19 seasons, playing sparingly in the past six.