a baby girl, Kaavia James Union Wade, to the family in November.
Udonis was named the baby’s godfather.
Over the years, Wade and Haslem have formed a partnership
that has extended past the court. The two recently opened their
fi rst restaurant, 800 Degrees Woodfi red Kitchen, together in
“Udonis and I have had conversations about doing business
together for a long time,” Wade says. “Our plan is to do a lot
more in the restaurant industry, but right now we’re focusing
on 800 Degrees, and growing it across South Florida, from
South Beach all the way up to Orlando.”
For now, their top priority remains leading this group of HEAT
youngsters, even as they’ve both transitioned to off-the-bench roles.
“I challenge myself every day to impact these guys,” said Haslem.
“I challenge myself every day to bring a smile and energy to
these guys and make sure I have a smile on my face and make
sure that these guys don’t see me with my head down, pouting,
being selfi sh about my playing time or being selfi sh about not
getting the minutes. I need these guys to see me being selfl ess,
I need these guys to see me being engaged, I need these guys
to see me working hard and I need these guys to see that
championship DNA and that HEAT culture inside of me coming
out every day. And that’s what I focus on every day, whether
I’m playing or not.
For Wade, coming to a decision on how to wrap up his
legendary career was not an easy one. But with U.D., Head Coach
Erik Spoesltra, and the roster of HEAT veterans by his side,
he’s hoping to give fans a memorable send off.
“This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Wade
said his in his “One Last Dance” video. “But it’s one of the best
decisions I’ve ever had to make. I asked myself why, why not?
I have heard everything from my family to my fans around
the world of what I should and shouldn’t do. But I always have done
things my way. I got here because I have done things the way I feel
is right for me and right for my family.”
“I’m not as quick as I used to be,” Wade continued in his video.
“I don’t jump as high as I used to, and boy I used to get up.
But there are things in this game that I have that I can write
a book on, I can still accomplish with a team with the right coach in
the right situation. To have the career I’ve had, I can’t do anything
but smile on it, just enjoy it.”
MIAMI HEAT 2018-19 I 99
“I remember when I came in for my HEAT workout
before the draft and asked who the guy getting every
rebound was and they told me, ‘That’s Udonis
Haslem.’ And I didn’t even recognize him because
of how much he’d changed his body. I knew right
away that he was a guy I wanted on my team.”
Many HEAT faithful remember the 2005-
06 season and the otherworldly playoff
performance of Wade that brought the city
of Miami its fi rst NBA Championship.
Throughout it all, Wade could count on U.D.
being in that starting lineup with him. Wade’s NBA
Finals performances are in the lore of NBA history and
forever commemorated by his ‘06 Finals MVP award,
but discerning fans would be remiss if they forgot that
Udonis had a 17-point, 10-rebound effort in Game 6 of the
2006 NBA Finals while playing stellar defense on future
Hall-of-Famer Dirk Nowitzki throughout the series.
“I just remember in 2006 when both of them were really
in their prime and we’re playing Game 6 in Dallas,” recalls
current HEAT President and then-Coach Pat Riley. “The three
biggest plays that were made in the fourth quarter were made
by Udonis Haslem.”
Two more championships followed in 2012 and 2013 and the
bond between the two grew ever stronger.
“We’re family now,” said Haslem. “We’re family. He’s invested
in my life outside of basketball more so than he is in
basketball, and I’m invested in his life outside of basketball
more so than in basketball. We consider ourselves to
be brothers. Our wives are close. Our kids are close. We just
value each other on a whole ‘nother level.”
This familial bond between the two players was further
strengthened when Wade and wife Gabrielle Union welcomed