Heat’s Udonis Haslem hasn’t thought retirement, isn’t thinking politics

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MIAMI — Vince Carter acknowledged the reality of the moment as the NBA icon walked off the court March 11 amid the league’s impending shutdown due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s just weird,” Carter said of what might have been the final game of his 22-season career, that night that his Atlanta Hawks took on the New York Knicks. “I’m sitting there, like, ‘All right, this is it. Like that. It ended like that.’ ”

For Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem, the reality that his 17-season career might have ended that night, as well, didn’t hit home quite as immediately as he walked off the court at AmericanAirlines Arena that night after a loss to the Charlotte Hornets.

“Yeah, I mean, everybody, obviously, it comes to mind,” he said Friday on a conference call arranged by the Heat. “For me, I’m still maintaining hope that we can salvage some of the basketball season. So I haven’t gotten to that point yet. And in the midst of all this, there is a lot going on.

“So I’m focused on a lot of different things right now that are keeping me occupied, as far as not really thinking about what’s going to happen as far as my last basketball game.”

All the while, even while sheltering in place at his Southwest Ranches home and social distancing, he said he is making sure to lead in his role as Heat captain.

“Yeah, I’ve reached out on Facetime, text messages,” he said. “Before that, before as extremely, extremely as serious as it had gotten, I actually had a couple of guys over at the house. So, yeah, I’ve been reaching out to guys.”

He also reached out with an emotional essay in The Players Tribune, stressing the need for South Florida to come together in this time of need, while lashing out at those on spring break who had made a mockery of the situation on South Florida.

“For the most part, having so much free time and actually paying attention to a lot of things that’s going on outside of the little world that I was living in, that we all get so consumed in, our everyday routine,” the lifelong South Florida resident said, “ … I’ve been seeing a lot of people not taking it seriously.

“It was frustrating to watch and to see … . I was hoping to make an impact with my words.”

Haslem, 39, though, made it clear he was not making a political statement, nor interested in stepping into politics.

“There’s no way, no how. No sir. I’m not one to be a part of politics, at all,” he said. “I’m a person that’s living off my heart.”

All the while, appreciating the impact of others, including Heat owner Micky Arison being part of several extensive donation program to assist those in need.

“I’m seeing people starting to make the move, and starting to impact,” he said. “I’m sure it wasn’t just my letter. I’m sure a lot people had ideas in mind about what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it. I’m just seeing everybody coming together.”

While staying ready.

“I’m getting family workouts now,” he said. “We go out back in the yard, we get pool workouts, band workouts, core workouts. We get extra whole family workouts.”

And if the end of an inspirational career is here, Haslem said this hardly seems like the moment to reflect.

“Right now, there are bigger things going on than basketball,” he said. “So it’s really kind of hard to focus on basketball.”


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