Heat’s Haslem returning for 20th NBA season

    Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.

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 still 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 admitted after the season that he was unsure whether or not he would return for another year.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has noted repeatedly through the years how much of an impact Haslem’s presence and leadership has on the team on a day-to-day basis.

Haslem joins legends Kobe Bryant, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dirk Nowitzki, with the Dallas Mavericks, as the only NBA players ever to play 20 or more seasons with a single franchise, according to ESPN Stats and Information research.

Haslem is a three-time NBA champion with Miami and is the franchise’s all-time leader in rebounds. 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 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 last 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 the last six years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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