We all know how Pat Riley and the Miami Heat feel about Udonis Haslem and what his 14 years of service have meant to the franchise.
At 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the official start of free agency, the Heat showed Haslem another example of how much they love him by decorating the gates outside his Southwest Ranches home with four large banners.
Haslem, who turned 37 last month, finally shared a photo of it on his Instagram account Sunday.
The first banner reads: “The Hardest Working Best Conditioned Most Professional Unselfish Toughest Meanest Nastiest Player In Heat History – Haslem.”
The second banner is a photo of Haslem bleeding from the corner of his right eye.
The third banner reads: “Most Rebounds in Heat History – Haslem.”
And the last banner is the NBA championship trophy. It represents how Haslem is a three-time champion.
Haslem was clearly touched by the gesture.
“How you supposed to pull up to your crib the first day of free agency? When you are a Heat Lifer, got 3 rings, you did work out here over the past 14 years, your city and your organization love you,” Haslem wrote on the caption of the Instagram photo. “[Shout out to the] Miami Heat and all of Heat Nation.”
Riley said in April his intent was to bring Haslem, the team captain, back this summer after the Heat was done recruiting free agents and filling its roster. Haslem was one of Heat five players – two who are unsigned free agents (James Johnson being the other) – who met with Jazz All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward on Saturday.
Haslem could make $2.3 million at the veteran’s minimum for next season.
“We have 15 roster spots and I hope that Udonis fills one of them without a doubt,” Riley said. “He’s invaluable in so many aspects on the court, off the court, in the locker room, with the players. He’s made a commitment to work with two or three of our guys already. As a matter of fact, when I walked in here, there were like six guys in the weight room instead of going home or on some vacation.
“So when that time comes, we’ll talk with Udonis. But I would like to see him on the team. But I also want to see him on the team as a player. He’s just not going to take up a spot. He’s going to have to come in and earn his position, not just because he’s the grandfather of the team. He helps so much from that standpoint. Mr. Miami is in our hearts and so we’ll let that sort of run its course as we build our team over the summer.”