Suspended for Game 6 and banned from the arena, Haslem had to watch from the hotel. He tried to nap beforehand but was too restless. He went downstairs and grabbed his game meal a bag of popcorn, a bag of Cheetos, a Kit Kat and a Powerade. And this is how he felt in his own words:
Lonely. Anxious. Helpless. Useless.
He rushed to the airport immediately after the victory. Wade and Mario Chalmers were texting him pictures from the jubilant locker room, holding up Free UD! signs. He sat on the plane alone for 45 minutes until the team got there. And then Wade gave Haslem the game ball.
Asked to describe what that moment meant, Haslem pauses for a long time.
Felt like family, he finally says, succinctly enough. Then he adds, Felt like they did all that for me. I knew Dwyane was going to have a game like that. I knew. I know that guy. No doubt. None. No doubt. His sister, his kids, they are my family. His mother and my mother used to be friends. They had similar journeys. Drug addiction. His mom is like my extended mom. I know that guy, and I knew what Dwyane was going to do to Indiana.
Haslems jump shot has been broken all season, but he won Game 4 with so many fourth-quarter baskets that swung the series. He is asked which was the best feeling making all those jumpers, fouling Hansbrough or getting the game ball.
Game ball, he says. Most expensive basketball ever. Thats not going to be the ball the kids play with outside.
He is asked which was the better feeling hitting all those fourth-quarter jumpers in Game 4 or fouling Hansbrough in Game 5?
Protecting my brother, he says.
Haslem wasnt paid for Game 6. That foul cost him more than $34,000 or 1/110th of his annual salary (preseason and postseason included). Wade offered to pay half the fine, but Haslem refused, even though Wade earns a lot more than the $3.8 million Haslem does.
No way, says Haslem, proud and moved.
And then this so-rugged man from Miamis meanest streets bows his head so you can no longer see that bloody, stitched eye or if it is stinging.
That, he says, was out of love.