The next step could further define the degree that Udonis Haslem’s NBA story becomes one for the ages.
With the Miami Heat captain turning 42 on Thursday, a return for a 20th season would put him in decidedly rarified air.
The oldest player in the NBA this past season by four years over Carmelo Anthony and former Heat teammate Andre Iguodala, Haslem, by returning next season, would have the opportunity to join the only six players to appear in the NBA beyond their 42nd birthday.
The only players to appear in a game beyond Haslem’s current age have been Nat Hickey (two games in the NBA forerunner Basketball Association of American in 1948, at 45), Kevin Willis (44), Robert Parish (43), Vince Carter (43) Dikembe Mutobo (42) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (42).
A 20th season by Haslem also would make him one of nine players to appear in 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 will remain open, although not specifying a playing role.
“When you’ve got 20 years of experience, like he does, and he’s knowledgeable and he has the right disposition for this organization, we want him to be in this organization as long as he wants to be,” Riley said. “I mean, defining exactly what it is that he wants to do, I mean I would love to have UD around in whatever capacity.
“And so we haven’t discussed any of that, because I think he struggles with, ‘I want to be on the court.’ I’ll sit down with UD. I love him to death. So we’ll see where it goes.”
As has been the case in recent years, Haslem requested time to decompress, in recent years his formal decision not coming until late in the summer or even the eve of the season.
“As usual,” Haslem said amid the team’s exit interviews, “I’ll take my time, sit down with the family, Pat, Micky [Arison, the team owner] and talk about what’s next and where it goes.”
This past season, there were 13 appearances for 83 minutes, after appearing in a combined 15 regular-season games the previous three seasons. There then were no appearances in the postseason, now without a playoff minute since 2016.
Asked if he wanted to return, Haslem said the preference would be to be part of the ongoing NBA Finals.
“I want to be playing right now,” he said. “But ain’t get what I want. I want to still be playing. So I’m not getting what I want in the moment. So right now it’s time to take a mental break and then figure that out, after that.”
Even with a return, he appreciates there well could be new players to mentor.
“That’s not my space,” he said when asked if a roster makeover might be necessary. “My space is to make sure we get the most and maximize the potential of the guys that do come in here. And that’s where I stay at. I’m pretty good at that.”
Eventually, though, that could change, making clear that a Heat ownership stake remains a goal.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “We’ll see. You can’t guarantee anything, but that’s hopefully what we’ll work on here.”
But he also reiterated there would not be a middle ground of coaching.
“I’ve got too much going on outside in the city,” he said. “I got too much.”
He then listed his various investments, enterprises and endorsements.
“I don’t have the time to dedicate,” he said. “I know coaches got to be here for the players. It’s hard enough for me to be here as it is now. So coaching doesn’t work for me.”
No matter the ultimate decision on a 20th season and possibly playing again at 42, he stressed that Heat colors would remain his colors of choice.
“Impacting this organization,” he said, “that’s always going to be a priority for me. It’s always going to be something near and dear to my heart. That’s always going to be something that is important to me. And that’s always something that’s going to bring out the best in me.
“Because when it’s something that’s important to you, and it’s something that you really care about, you get the best version of yourself and it doesn’t seem like work.”
Soruce : https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/06/08/as-he-turns-42-heats-haslem-deliberating-20th-season-but-rules-out-coaching-with-sights-set-on-being-team-owner/