Udonis Haslem’s mother died this summer. Damn you, cancer.
Monday afternoon, with the Heat’s 2006 championship trophy in the room along with just the players, Haslem spoke about it. Passionately. And moved his teammates.
Haslem was close to his mother, he spent a lot of time by her side in Miami this past year as she got more ill and more ill. The Palm Beach Post asked the last time he saw her smile.
“When she learned I was coming back to the team,” Haslem said.
Haslem, the long-time Heat player, was named co-captain along with Dwyane Wade. He spoke to the team from his heart Monday, being raw and truthful with them in a way rarely seen in an NBA locker room.
“There’s only one way we’re going to get this done, and that is together,” Haslem said, adding, “What I want guys to understand is it’s not just about basketball for me, or else I would have gone somewhere else. And other guys could have done the same thing. I don’t want (anything) to come between us and winning an NBA championship that we can control. That starts with everybody being vocal, everyone being leaders, not just me and Dwyane.”
Unlike the stars of this team, Haslem was not blessed with an NBA game at birth. He earned it. He had to go to France to play after the University of Florida, he had to drop 70 pounds and work on rounding out his skills (in college he was a back-to-the-basket center), plus finding what he could be exceptional at. He worked hard at his craft. He was passionate about it.
Starting in 2002, he earned a spot on the Heat. Now he has a chance to help earn his second NBA title, and he doesn’t want that to slip away. He wanted his teammates to understand his passion, and what needs to be done.
“Udonis is a real heartfelt, pure person,” James said. “With the passing of his mother this past summer he has a lot to play for. It’s difficult when you lose a loved one and wish that she could be around this moment. We have to, as players, make sure we understand what type of year this could be for him and have his back all year.”