Udonis Haslem played 83 minutes this season. If you lined them up side-by-side, it would still be shorter than the running time of The Lion King and Broadway Danny Rose. By his standards, it was a tremendous amount of run, having collected 47 combined minutes over the previous two years. The 40-year-old is the 15th man on the Miami Heat roster and exists in some sort of hybrid position that tasks him with curating the vibes and occasionally delivering a menacing look toward an opponent... or teammate. It's tremendous work if you can get it and we should all congratulate him on finding such a situation.
But no generous preamble should distract you from the fact that Haslem has just potentially authored one of the more cringeworthy final acts a proud player could author. A hilarious and embarrassing coda. And you should enjoy that because if you cannot bask in moments like these, why even watch sports?
In case you were busy celebrating the long holiday weekend with beers, brats and other general rowdiness, Haslem, who did not play at all in these playoffs and perhaps wouldn't play if asked, had a real problem with Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. For breaking The Code. And he showed his frustration by skipping over to the ESPN setup following Miami's Game 6 victory to deliver a message to Green, who had the audacity to suggest he'd be playing the Celtics in the Finals.
This made sense, in a way, even though Haslem had absolutely nothing to do with the victory as he watched from the sidelines like the rest of us. But getting someone else to do the work for him was very on-brand. Why send the message yourself when you could get Mark Jackson to do it for you? Why take the court at all when you can just send Dewayne Dedmon out there instead? One does not get to be a 40-year-old in this young man's league without the ability to pull off some heady plays.
Haslem was deeply committed to the bit. Here he is telling Yahoo's Chris Haynes, with a straight face, just how deeply the disrespect affected him.
“He let Shaq peer pressure him into saying some s*** he ain’t got no business saying,” Haslem told Yahoo Sports. “I didn’t sleep much after he said that. That was some bulls***.”
This is just another reminder to be kind. Even a person who fashions themself as ringleader of the hardest working, best conditioned, most professional, unselfish, toughest, meanest, nastiest team in the NBA has feelings. And a commitment to whatever this honor code entails that hasn't been seen since Pecos Bill was knocking about. To the point it could leave him tossing and turning, unable to escape to dreamland after a hard day's work as a cheerleader.
It was an incredibly weird flex at the time, considering there was a Game 7 to play and considering how the series had been a nightmare for home teams. And now it's just funny. Because Haslem's zero points, zero rebounds, zero blocks and zero minutes weren't enough for the Heat to overcome a Celtics team in South Beach. Which means Green was correct in his assessment and is owed an apology that will never come. Who could have possibly seen this coming? Who could have possibly noticed trash-talking on others' accomplishments blowing up spectacularly when those same others couldn't get the job done?
So now what? Either Haslem comes back to hang out and collect paychecks next year or he exits on a sour note to the saddest of trombones. Perhaps it will be a fitting end to a spectacular yet no less compounding career. Or perhaps he'll use this very post as motivation for his teammates to play even better next year.
One thing's for sure. There are a lot of sleepness nights ahead to be spent being mad about Green's correct and reasonable prediction.