After what’s been a tough, emotional week, veteran Udonis Haslem was back with the Miami Heat on Saturday night after attending the funeral of longtime agent and beloved friend Henry Thomas, who was laid to rest Friday in Chicago.
Haslem, 37, missed Friday’s game in Philadelphia and missed another game Jan. 25 to be with Thomas, 64, before he passed away two days later. Thomas represented Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Tim Hardaway among Heat players.
Haslem said he’s hoping to get a chance to attend the funeral of former Heat teammate Rasual Butler, who was killed along with his wife in a single-car accident in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Butler was 38.
“It’s been a tough one,” Haslem said of his week. “I just have to continue to value how precious life is and the opportunity that we have. That’s all I can really say. Obviously with Hank, it’s something that was just continuing, his health was continuing to deteriorate for a while. So everybody kind of gathered around and prepared ourselves. But you can never prepare yourself for someone who’s been that important to us — a father figure, a mentor.
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“Rasual, I didn’t see that coming, man. That was a tough one. That was a tough blow, especially coming off the heels of what was going on with Hank. [Rasual and I] had spoken recently, a couple months ago, about just getting together. He was asking me about some of the franchises and business stuff I was into. He just wanted to talk about some of that stuff and we talked about it, and we were going to plan on getting together. And you know, it should have happened sooner rather than later, I guess. It’s unfortunate, man. He was one of my coolest teammates, man. We shared a lot of good times together.”
Wade attended Thomas’ funeral. Haslem, who was also accompanied by Heat president Pat Riley, said he was glad he and Wade could spend some time together this week.
“It’s always good to go through things like that with your brother,” Haslem said. “Me and D-Wade got a bond that will never be broken. I more so wanted to be there for him. I’ve experienced death on different occasions. I lost my grandfather, grandmother, my brother, my mother. I’ve lost a couple homeboys. I’ve been around death. You can never prepare yourself for it. He’s never really had to experience death for anybody close to him. To have that happen to Hank, that hit him hard. And then to have it happen to Rasual, it kind of knocked him back a little bit more. I made a point just to continue to be there for him more than anything.”
Haslem said it was good to get back to basketball and his teammates on Saturday.
“Once I got into the hotel last night in Detroit, the first thing I did was cut on the TV and watch the game,” he said. “I had my iPad with my son’s baseball game. I had the TV with the Heat game and I’m the phone talking to my son at Toledo like, ‘What time you coming down to the game?’ I immediately just got back into work mode, father mode, competitive mode. Everything just went back to what it is. With that being said, it’s not going to be easy. Right now, but in another week or so when I realize those texts aren’t coming through from Hank … it’s going to be difficult.”
WHITESIDE SITS OUT
Heat center Hassan Whiteside missed his 19th game of the season Saturday night because of illness.
After the Heat’s loss to the Sixers in Philadelphia on Friday night, Whiteside revealed that he had been vomiting since early morning Friday and wasn’t feeling well. He left the Heat bench in the fourth quarter because he thought he was going to throw up again.
Whiteside played 18 minutes and 17 seconds and produced four points (on 2 of 6 shooting), nine rebounds and three blocks before leaving the game for good midway through the third quarter.