What was once old can become new over time. It’s a concept that has proven true in entertainment and fashion.
It’s also proving to be true when it comes to the Miami Heat and long time player Udonis Haslem.
As an undrafted player with a training camp invitation in 2003, Haslem rose through the ranks to become a key player for Miami along with fellow rookie Dwyane Wade. Over the next seven NBA seasons, which included a championship run in 2006, Haslem gained the role of respected team co captain and perennial starting power forward.
That changed in the Summer of 2010.
With the arrivals of LeBron James and Chris Bosh via free agency, Haslem’s role went into flux. Injuries and offensive struggles didn’t help in the matter over the last two seasons. Despite this he has kept himself ready for when he was called up from the bench by Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
This season has provided opportunities for Haslem. Bosh shifting to the center position opened up a spot in the starting lineup when training camp started, but Spoelstra decided to stick with the formula of starting Shane Battier that won Miami a championship when the season started.
Then just as as injury took Halsem out of the mix, it brought him back.
The combination of Battier injuring his knee, the Heat suffering on defense and rebounding, and Rashard Lewis not working out as an initial replacement has brought Haslem back to the starting lineup with Miami benefiting from his toughness. The team’s stifling defense is almost back to championship form and some of the rebounding woes have subsided.
There is a bad side to Haslem starting. The very factors he brings to the court are taken away from Miami’s bench. Luckily for the Heat, that has been negated by Joel Anthony being put back into the rotation.
It will be interesting to see if Haslem can retain his new starting role in the season’s long run or if Spoelstra will bring Battier back from the bench. So far Haslem hasn’t shown anything for that latter to happen.
Whatever direction Miami decides to go in, Haslem will prove ready.