When the Heat organization looks in the mirror, it doesn't see what so many outsiders see. It doesn't see glitz and glamour, entourages and endorsements, even after a summer during which it smugly celebrated its new collection of superstars. It doesn't see snap-your-fingers success but, rather, a rocky road that's damp with sweat and tears. It doesn't see the caricature created outside South Florida but, rather, character, community and commitment. It sees Udonis Haslem. "That's who he has been his entire career," coach Erik Spoelstra said. Haslem is now the embodiment of the Heat, the last true link to a grunt-and-grinder past personified by Alonzo Mourning, Keith Askins, P.J. Brown, Dan Majerle and Brian Grant. Haslem is what the Pat Riley Heat -- more Schenectady than Showtime - still believes it is, and still wants to be. He's the guy who wears his heart on his sleeve off the court, and rolls up his sleeves while on it, an athlete who has overcome rather than overwhelmed. You know the story, because it's one that Heat representatives, from the sideline to the broadcast booth, never tire of telling, not caring how hokey it can sound. A story of discipline, displayed by reshaping his body. A story of defiance, going overseas and then forcing his way into a league that didn't draft him. A story of resilience, pushing through tragedy (the cancer-related deaths of his older brother and mother, a decade apart) and now, serious injury. A story of sacrifice, taking less money to remain home.
Udonis Haslem exemplifies the gritty style Pat Riley long ago instilled in Miami Heat
Palm Beach Post | May 20