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On eve of jersey retirement, Udonis Haslem reflects on the Heat five who have risen before

MIAMI — Over 20 seasons, Udonis Haslem lived the Miami Heat’s history while playing in the team’s colors. But since the franchise’s 1988 inception, he has lived the Miami Heat, even when too young and too poor to experience the Heat firsthand.

So as he prepared for Friday night’s retirement of his iconic No. 40 Heat jersey at halftime of the Heat’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, the retired power forward offered his reflections to the South Florida Sun Sentinel on the other five jerseys that No. 40 now will reside alongside at Kaseya Center.

It will, in many ways, be the ultimate full-circle moment for the power forward who won three championships. He continues on with the team to the degree that he paused a workout with Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. in the team’s weight room this week in order to share his thoughts on those who have risen to the rafters before.

So Haslem, unfiltered, on the five who rose ahead of him to the Heat’s hallowed loft:

No. 33, Alonzo Mourning, jersey retired on March 30, 2009: “My OG, always telling me the things I needed to do to be a professional. Somebody who set the bar as far as rebounding, defense, was the bearer of the culture.

“So when I talked about being the next guy who takes over the culture I wanted to make him proud, and I wanted to uphold it in the way he would and even better and bigger.”

No. 10, Tim Hardaway, jersey retired on Oct. 29, 2009: “With Tim it was always the respect that I had for Tim. I never played with Tim, but Tim was the first NBA player I had ever met in person and had a conversation with. Tim used to come over to Miami High and play pickup with little Timmy (current Dallas Mavericks guard Tim Hardaway Jr.) when I was in high school and going to college. Tim was the first NBA player I was able to have a conversation with face to face.

“And I always thought it was cool and had a lot of respect that Tim came over to the inner city and to the neighborhoods and played pickup with the kids. So Tim, for me, I always had the utmost respect, probably the most respected Heat player in my eyes, because he was in the inner city, and he wasn’t even from here (born and raised in Chicago).”

No. 32, Shaquille O’Neal, jersey retired on Dec. 22, 2016: “Probably the person that put the most confidence in me, gave me the most confidence, understanding that a lot of times people were going to leave me open, because I had Shaq down there dominating. He would always tell me to shoot it.

“So when I talk about somebody who instilled confidence in me and some of the things that I’m able to do to instill confidence in these other guys, that’s something I’ll always take away from Shaq, is the way he instilled confidence in his teammates and made them feel like they were sometimes even better than they were.”

No. 1, Chris Bosh, jersey retired on March 26, 2019: “Oh CB. man, probably, if not, one of the smartest basketball players that I’ve ever been around, understanding that he wasn’t the highest jumping, he wasn’t the quickest, but he was one of the smartest basketball players. The way CB approached the game, I learned, really, the mental approach to the game of basketball from CB. He’d sit down and read a book before the games.

“So for me, just understanding how to approach the game mentally, not getting so worked up, probably trying to be calm like CB. He was one of the most interesting teammates that I ever had.”

No. 3, Dwyane Wade, jersey retired on Feb. 22, 2020: “I couldn’t have written it any better. When I thought of this journey so long ago, I knew he was just being drafted and I was just trying to make a team. But we just envisioned playing together our whole careers and being a part of something special. We didn’t know what that was, but fast forward to now, every step of the way, my brother has been there.

“Watching him do the things that he’s been able to do on the basketball court and off the basketball court has encouraged me, as well. I would probably say somebody who continues to set the bar high on and off the basketball court, and somebody that I’ll continue to follow.

Note: The Heat have also honored the No. 23 of Michael Jordan, the No. 13 of Dan Marino and the No. 6 of Bill Russell, but those numbers are affixed to a wall on the south side of Kaseya Center, with Heat’s retired numbers hanging from the west rafters above the court.