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Udonis Haslem Is a Team Mascot Whether He Likes It Or Not

By Stephen Douglas
Udonis Haslem and the Heat bench.
Udonis Haslem and the Heat bench. / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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The Miami Heat blew out the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, 137-95. Fourteen of 15 Miami Heat players who dressed got into the game as they took a 29-point lead into the fourth quarter. The one player who did not enter the game was Udonis Haslem. This was despite chants from the crowd and an impassioned plea from Bam Adebayo, which was broadcast on television.

"He doesn't want to become the team mascot so to speak. He wants to be remembered as the serious player that he has been throughout the course his career."

OK. So you're going to have to help me understand what he's doing in uniform if he refuses to be the human victory cigar. He appeared in one game last season. Four the year before. If he isn't a terrifying team mascot at this point, what is he? What is he doing that he could not do as an assistant coach? He can't stick his finger in Dwight Howard's face while he's wearing a polo? The NBA would be happy to suspend him as Miami fans crow about Heat Culture producing the toughest assistants in the entire league.

I get what he means to the team and community. I get that the 15th guy on an NBA roster doesn't do anything for any team. But if he doesn't play in close games and he doesn't play in blowouts, what is the point? Is this one of those "no place else to go" situations? Is that spot on the Heat bench his favorite chair?

Is there an awkward moment during a game early every season where a rookie or newly signed free agent sits in his spot and everyone goes, "Uh oh, that's UD's seat," and the new guy laughs nervously and Haslem glares at him and the new guy says, "Is he serious?" before he finally relents, narrowly avoiding a beat down?

If Haslem refuses to enter games, just how long can he play? I would assume there are no limits since he doesn't even have to enter the games. What's to stop the Heat from employing him as a 15th man until he's 50 or 60 or older? You saying a 60-yea- old Udonis Haslem can't come in for a single minute late in the 2040 season and send a message during a game that has gotten out of control? Can you imagine how crazy the Miami crowd will go when UD takes the floor for the first time in over a decade? I just hope I'm alive to see it.

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