In the history of professional basketball in America, especially in the NBA, only a handful players have suited for a single franchise for twenty seasons or more. The likes of Dirk Nowitzki and the late Kobe Bryant readily comes to mind, having helped the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers respectively to championship titles via their awesome skill-set and dedication to team objectives and aspirations. And now, after months of indecision, a three-time league champion has decided to commit to the same team for the 20th season.
🔊 @ThisIsUD had something to share at his Miami Basketball & Cheer Camp for Kids today pic.twitter.com/efYwSva3H4 — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 21, 2022
Udonis Saves the Last Dance for 20 Veteran forward for the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem held all the cards when it came to whether or not he would return to play for the 2022-23 NBA season. The Heat franchise has shown keen interest in the return of the team captain for at least another campaign and made a heartfelt pitch to bring back the 42-year-old big man. Miami extended the offer nearly two months ago, then waited for Haslem to decide between retiring and returning. The deal is worth $2.9 million for one year.
Udonis Haslem is running it back with the Heat. 👀 pic.twitter.com/lCsqBC8XEt — theScore (@theScore) August 21, 2022
“I have decided to follow through with what me and my father had talked about, and I will finish what I started and I will play 20 years,” Haslem said, seated at midcourt at Miami High, his alma mater. “I will play this year, because I talked about that with my father and that’s what we said we would do. It won’t be the same. Won’t be as easy. But the goal still remains the same. Win. Win a championship. Leave it on the line and hold your head high when it’s all over.” A Seat at the Table of Two Decaders Spending 20 seasons with one franchise, Haslem enters a rare category in the NBA folklore, joining Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki as the only players to attain such a historic feat. Nowitzki passed Bryant’s record for the most seasons with one franchise when he returned to the Mavericks for one final year in the 2018-19 campaign. Prior to Bryant becoming the first-ever player to spend 20 seasons with the same franchise, John Stockton and Tim Duncan were tied for that record, spending 19 seasons in Utah and San Antonio, respectively.
Most seasons played for one franchise in NBA history Dirk Nowitzki – 21 Kobe Bryant – 20 Udonis Haslem – 20 John Stockton – 19 Tim Duncan – 19 pic.twitter.com/3yE0utWbT5 — ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) August 21, 2022
Haslem was the oldest player to appear in each of the last two NBA seasons. He got into 13 games with Miami last season, averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds. He has averaged 7.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in his first 19 seasons, playing sparingly in the past six. The Miami native went undrafted out of Florida, and then made his debut with the Heat in 2003, and has been a staple in the organization ever since. He helped lead them to three titles — including two alongside LeBron James.