Haslem’s playing career is over, but he’s still making presence felt for Heat during playoffs

This year marks the first time the Miami Heat has made the playoffs without Udonis Haslem on its roster since 2001. But Haslem is still working behind the scenes to make his presence felt this postseason.

Haslem, who retired at the end of last season following a 20-year NBA career, has continued to take an active role in Heat practices, shootarounds and meetings to help guide and share his knowledge with players. He even made the trip to Philadelphia for the Heat’s play-in tournament game against the 76ers on April 17 and to Boston for Game 2 of the Heat’s first-round playoff series against the Celtics.

“I’ve been around all year. That’s what people don’t know,” said Haslem, who was hired by the Heat in November just months into retirement to be the vice president of basketball development. “It’s just important for me to be around.

“We preach brotherhood, we preach culture, we preach sacrifice, all those things. So to see somebody continue to do it even when I don’t have to, I just want to show these guys the commitment and also continue to show these guys what a champion looks like. Just to continue to keep their eyes on the prize and what they can be and what they’re working toward. I’m going to continue to remind them.”

Haslem, 43, was not at TD Garden for the Heat’s Game 1 loss to the Celtics on April 21 because he was preparing for his NBA TV responsibilities as a studio analyst. He worked April 22 for NBA TV discussing various playoff games while also trying to quiet those around him questioning the eighth-seeded Heat’s chances against the top-seeded Celtics.

“The part about it is I was trying to tell everybody in the studio that we could win,” Haslem said ahead of Game 4 of the Heat-Celtics series on Monday night at Kaseya Center. “That’s the part about being in the studio. Everybody is like, ‘Y’all think you have a chance?’ What the [expletive] you think? Yeah, we got a [expletive] chance, man. That’s the question that I was getting in the studio all the time from all the guys. ‘Can you win a game? Do you think you have a chance?’ You’re [expletive] right we have a chance.

“So it was more so annoying because people didn’t think we had a chance. You know me, I’m the ultimate [expletive] Heat lifer guy. When somebody tells us we can’t, we’ll show you that we can.”

Once Haslem fulfilled his NBA TV duties, he met the Heat in Boston for Game 2. But he took the advice of his agent and flew into nearby Hartford, Conn., instead of Boston to avoid any potential conflicts.

“They don’t like me very much out there,” Haslem said with a grin.

Haslem has made it known over the years how much he dislikes the Celtics after facing off against Boston in the playoffs in six of the final 14 seasons of his NBA career.

“My agent was like, ‘Yeah, we’re not going to fly you into Boston by yourself,’” Haslem said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, you know better.’ It’s just going to take one person to say something, because I’m not good at turning the other cheek when it comes to certain things.”

Haslem then watched the Heat’s Game 2 win over the Celtics at TD Garden from Miami’s locker room. He also watches home games from the team’s locker room. That’s his preferred way of taking in Heat games these days.

“I’m a locker room guy,” Haslem said. “I’m in the locker room with the guys prior to the game, I’m in the locker room with the guys at halftime, I’m in the locker room watching the game. I don’t want to be in the stands with people bothering me and talking to me. I’m watching film. So when these guys come in here at halftime, I’ve already got notes and those types of things. Literally, I’m working throughout the game watching film.”

As heavy underdogs against the Celtics, Haslem’s message to the short-handed Heat has been simple.

“Details,” said Haslem, who delivered a pregame speech to the Heat prior to its Game 2 win in Boston. “This game is going to come down to the details. They’re a great basketball team. They can score the ball very well, obviously. But we got to be locked into the details, focusing on the least amount of mistakes and eliminating the mistakes and making it about competition. If we can eliminate the mistakes and make it about competition and the details, I think that’s where we’re the best in the world.”


Heat guard Delon Wright is back with the Heat and available for Game 4 on Monday. He missed Game 3 on Saturday for the birth of his daughter.

But the Heat remains without Jimmy Butler (right knee MCL sprain), Josh Richardson (right shoulder surgery) and Terry Rozier (neck spasm) on Monday.

The Celtics are expected to have their full roster available for Game 4.