NBA

Heat’s Udonis Haslem ejected minutes into season debut, potential final game after spat with Dwight Howard

Udonis Haslem almost never actually plays for the Miami Heat. At 40 years old, his on-court utility is limited. But he is a team legend, and he has tremendous value in the locker room, so the Heat have kept him on the roster well past his expiration date to hold him up as an example of their culture. He has played less than 600 minutes combined over the past six seasons, but at the end of the season, the Heat always find time for him in their home finale just in case he finally decides to retire. They want to give their fans one last chance to thank him for all that he has done for the organization. 

But on Thursday, Haslem took the idea of hardly playing to a whole new level. The Heat veteran had not played a single minute this entire season. Thursday’s battle with the Philadelphia 76ers was Miami’s final home game of the regular season, so in the second quarter, the Heat put him in the game for one final run. Things started out nicely. He made his first two shot attempts and pulled in a rebound, but only three minutes into his stretch on the floor, Haslem was ejected after getting into an altercation with Dwight Howard

Haslem was known for his toughness in his prime, so this would be a somewhat fitting way for his career to end. In what could be his final game, he got into a scuffle with one of the few players from his generation and got tossed for it. Such confrontations were far more common earlier in Haslem’s career, but in today’s game, refs are far quicker to get guys off of the floor when things like this happen.

The Heat still have two regular-season games left, and in theory, a playoff game could have a wide enough margin for Haslem to play a few garbage-time minutes, but the fact that he hadn’t seen the floor at all this year suggests that he isn’t likely to play again next season. Even among unplayable reserves, 40-year-olds are rare on NBA rosters. This might well be the last time Haslem ever steps on an NBA floor, and if so, it’ll be a finale we won’t soon forget.



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