The next step could further define the degree to which Udonis Haslem’s NBA story becomes one for the ages.
With the Miami Heat captain turning 42 on Thursday, his return for a 20th season will surely put him on rarefied air.
Carmelo Anthony and former Heat teammate Andre Iguodala, the oldest player in the NBA four years before Haslem, will return next season, joining only six players in the NBA after their 42nd birthday.
The only players to appear in a game beyond Haslem’s current age were Nat Hickey (two games in the 1948 NBA precursor Basketball Association of America, at 45), Kevin Willis (44), Robert Parrish (43), Vince Carter (at 45). 43) are. ) Dikembe Mutobo (42) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (42).
Haslem’s 20th season would also make him one of nine players to join 20 or more, joining Carter at 22; Parish, Willis, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett at 21; and Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Jamal Crawford at 20.
As always, Heat president Pat Riley said the door would remain open, although not specifying a role.
Riley said, “When you have 20 years of experience like he does, and he is knowledgeable and has the right flair for this organization, we want him to stay in this organization for as long as he can. wants to be.” “I mean, defining what he wants to do, I mean I would love to have UD in any capacity.
“And so we haven’t had any discussion on him, because I think he struggles with, ‘I want to be in court.’ I will sit with UD. I am in love with him till my death. So we will see where it goes.”
As has been the case in recent years, with Haslem requesting time to decompress, his formal decision in recent years did not come until the end of the summer or even the eve of the season.
“As always,” Haslem said in between interviews with the team’s exit, “I’ll take my time, sit down with the family, Pat, Mickey. [Arison, the team owner] And talk about what’s next and where it goes.”
Last season, there were 13 appearances for 83 minutes, after appearing in a combined 15 regular-season games over the past three seasons. There were no appearances in the postseason then, now without playoff minutes since 2016.
Asked if he wants to make a comeback, Haslem said the seeding will be a part of the ongoing NBA Finals.
He said, ‘I want to play now. “But I didn’t get what I wanted. I still want to play. So I’m not getting what I want at the moment. So it’s time to take a mental break and only then figure it out.”
Even with the return, he appreciates that there may be new players to mentor.
Asked if a roster change might be necessary, he said, “It’s not my place.” “My position is to make sure we get the most and maximize the potential of the people who come here. And that’s where I live. I’m pretty good at it.”
Ultimately, though, that may change, making it clear that the Heat ownership stake remains a target.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “We’ll see. You can’t guarantee anything, but hopefully we’ll work over here.”
But he also reiterated that there will be no middle ground for coaching.
“I’ve been out in town a lot,” he said. “I’ve been through too much.”
He then listed his various investments, ventures and advertisements.
“I don’t have time to dedicate,” he said. “I know the coaches have to be here for the players. It is quite difficult for me to be here as it is now. That’s why coaching doesn’t work for me.”
No matter the final decision on the 20th season and possibly a replay at 42, he insisted that the Heat Colors remain his color of choice.
“Impacting this organization,” he said, “will always be a priority for me. It’s always going to be something near and dear to my heart. It’s always going to be something that’s important to me. And that’s always something that’s going to happen.” The one who brings out the best in me.
“Because when it’s something that’s important to you, and it’s something you really care about, you get to be the best version of yourself and it doesn’t feel like work.”