Ira Winderman: Udonis Haslem and His Heat Road from Mr. 305 to Suburban 954, Dad

Next week, Mr. 305 will be deservedly honored for 20 seasons of service to the team and community by the Miami Heat.

Born and raised in downtown Miami, few players in any sport are more identified with their hometown than Udonis Haslem.

And yet, for the past two decades, Mr. 305 has actually been Mr. 954, living first in Davie upon the arrival of the Heat and now in the semi-rural setting of Southwest Ranches.

By no means has that meant turning his back on his roots, as often found in Miami-Dade with his philanthropic and entrepreneurial endeavors.

Just a husband and father, like many husbands and fathers, looking for a better life for his family that he could only imagine growing up.

For Haslem, Broward is the oasis, while Miami-Dade remains the pride.

The quiet of the suburbs, he said, allows passion to flourish both in the locker room and in the community when it crosses the county line.

“I’ve always wanted land,” the 42-year-old Heat captain said recently in his locker room at Miami-Dade Arena. “There’s not a lot of land in Miami. You might get a half acre, an acre lot. But I needed about four acres, and I knew where I could find that.

“I wanted my own peace and my own little compound. And when I get away from whatever I’m dealing with, I can go there and recharge and do whatever I need to do and get ready for the next day.”

And, yes, like the rest of South Florida commuters, there is a trade-off, a traffic trade-off.

The timing of many Heat practices and shootarounds means morning rush hour.

“You’d have to ask my drivers,” Haslem said with a laugh when asked about the chaos. “I’m in the fourth. The fact that they are on their fourth probably tells you what it was like for them.

“I actually find it therapeutic. It’s one of the few times I have peace and quiet. I can control my time. For the home side, my time belongs to my wife and children. When I’m here in the arena, my time belongs to the Heat and the team. So driving is my time. Sometimes I listen to the Isley Brothers, which was my dad’s favorite group.”

What Haslem won’t allow to get lost in the commute is what the 305 means to him, and how that passion must resonate even as he raises his family in a different setting.

“I’m very careful about that, that they’re privileged, that that’s not the reality,” he said of his Southwest Ranches compound. “And I make sure I take them with me when I go to do charity things so they can see the other side and what life is like for some people and not just for us.”

But, he said, there’s no doubt he’s also somewhat of a reformed father.

“They like to make a joke when I’m a little upset,” he said of his three sons. “They like to say Dade County is coming out, as opposed to the dad they have now. So I understand the rougher, rougher side of things from where I’m at, my own inner-city Miami.”

With Liberty City continuing to resonate.

“I take them to my grandmother’s house, where I always spent so much time growing up,” he said. “Unfortunately, my grandmother’s house burned down in a fire, so I was glad to have the opportunity to see this in Liberty City. It was a year ago, her house caught on fire.

“So they saw where I came from, where it all started and what life was like. And I also understand why they work so hard to give them the things they have, a better life. And I think I have good children who are grateful. They are not ungrateful.”

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EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE: From the time the Milwaukee Bucks offered him the first of two 10-day contracts to the former Heat center’s most recent guarantee for the remainder of the season Meyers Leonard was effusive in his appreciation of this opportunity for a second chance in the NBA after his career was derailed for two years following an anti-Semitic slur he uttered during video games in 2021. “They changed my life.” Leonard told the Journal Sentinel. “They really did. It will be hard for me not to get emotional now. Honestly, it’s hard to describe how that feels.” It has been, said Leonard, 31, a long, reflective, humbling journey. “One day, I’ll be able to tell my son, ‘Hey, these are the people who believed in me and gave me a second chance. This literally changed my life. I love basketball, but they changed my life. And it kind of helped me put the incident behind me.”

VETERAN PERSPECTIVE: Then there is Jae Crowder, Leonard’s former Heat teammate during their run to the 2020 NBA Finals, who is also experiencing a resurgence with the Bucks. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said the veteran forward has proven to be a quick study since being added at the Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline. “Sometimes he does what we should do [that] guys who have been here for five years don’t. I don’t understand,” Budenholzer said The Arizona Republic. “It’s on point. He is sharp. The attention to detail is very much there and very much appreciated, and that comes in a mid-season squad at the trade deadline.”

PJ’S PERSPECTIVE: The voice of reason last season with the Heat, PJ Tucker he’s trying to provide the same for the Philadelphia 76ers. After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals as a No. 1 seed to the Heat last season, the veteran power forward said there’s no reason to get too caught up in the rankings after winning an NBA title as a top seed no. 3 with Bucks. in 2021. “It’s funny now because of the playoff game and everybody trying to figure out the seeding,” Tucker said the Philadelphia Inquirer. “For me, I’ve said this many times: I don’t care about seeding. It’s more about how my team feels.” The Heat and 76ers have one game remaining on April 6 in Philadelphia, with a possible first-round matchup between the teams.

NCAA OUTLOOK: With Reggie Miller stepping down from NCAA Tournament broadcast work, former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy was added to the television mix. That’s what he had reflecting to the Orlando Sentinel in his lone coaching season at Wisconsin, which landed him the following year in 1995-96 as an assistant with the Heat. Pat Riley. “We didn’t have as good a year as we should have had in the first season, so you have to own that as a coach,” Van Gundy said of his tenure with the Badgers. “Definitely getting fired hurt at the time, but I was very fortunate because I got fired just a few months before Pat Riley left to go to the Miami Heat and it gave me a chance to get my foot in the door in the NBA. So, no, I’m not bitter yet, because I think the NBA is a better fit for me as a coach than college.”

PERSONALITY PERSPECTIVE: Given his stops during his Heat tenure have been with the Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and now the sub-.500 Utah Jazz, the former Heat big man Kelly Olynyk continued to earn respect as a steadfast teammate no matter the situation. “Kelly is connective tissue. He’s definitely not talked about enough,” the Jazz coach Will Hardy said the Deseret News. “But he’s a huge luxury for our staff.” Coach of the Houston Rockets Stefan Silas agreed: “When we were really down as a group, he was a breath of fresh air coming in here and showing his professionalism.” Olynyk, 31, will likely hit the free agent market this offseason with just $3 million of his $12.2 million salary for 2023-24 if he is waived by June 28.


24-13. Hot home record with four home games remaining this season, already one more home loss than last season when they finished 29-12. The Heat were 21-15 at home in the shortened 2020-21 season and 27-5 at home in the shortened 2019-20 season. The last time the Heat had a losing record at home was when they went 19-22 in 2018-19.


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