When it comes to records in the NBA franchise records, it’s special when they are set on the team’s home court.
It’s even more special when it’s done on the home court by a hometown guy.
That is what the Miami Heat got on Wednesday night as Udonis Haslem became the franchise’s all time rebound leader while playing against the Milwaukee Bucks, passing team great Alonzo Mourning on the list.
For Haslem, who grew up in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood, it was a moment where his transformation as a basketball player over his time in college and the NBA became complete.
He wasn’t known for his rebounding during his four-year college career at the University of Florida where he played as a center. What he was known for was being both undersized for his position and overweight at 300 lbs. Those two factors led him to not being drafted in the 2002 NBA Draft and to play a year in France.
If was that time in Europe where Haslem shed as much as 70 lbs and worked on his rebounding. Those efforts paid off as his hometown team in Miami invited him for Summer League tryouts. It only took one workout for Haslem to cement a place on the Heat where he along with Dwyane Wade have the longest tenure among the current roster. Haslem has repaid the confidence that the Heat have shown in him by leaving as much as $20 million on the table in the two instances when he was a free agent to stay in Miami.
Even as Haslem lost his starting job with the arrival of Chris Bosh and was sidelined with foot injuries, he hasn’t lost any respect in the locker room. He is still a team captain and can serve as a teacher for Dexter Pittman, another Heat player that comes from similar circumstances.
It has been a long road for Haslem, but it’s one he wouldn’t change at all.