Miami Heat veteran Udonis Haslem hadn’t logged a minute all year for the defending Eastern Conference champions. Finally, in the 70th game of the regular season, the 40-year-old trotted out to make his season debut. Less than three minutes later, Haslem was back on the bench.
Why? Well, the three-time world champion couldn’t contain his temper after a second-quarter feud with Philadelphia 76ers backup center Dwight Howard. Haslem was dragged to the floor as he was trying to box Howard out for a rebound but no foul was called, then things took a turn for the worst.
He pointed a threatening finger at Howard’s face before the referees quickly broke it up and ejected Haslem from the game. His final stat line: 2-for-2 from the field, four points, one rebound, two technicals, one ejection, in about 2-1/2 minutes.
Heat president Pat Riley was seen noticeably chuckling as Haslem left the court. After the game, Bam Adebayo couldn’t contain his own laughter and talked about the influence that the “OG” big brother has had on his development.
“I was like, this mother f***** is crazy,” Adebayo told reporters. “It was like, you can’t get tossed in the first four minutes. How long was he in the game? Four minutes? Three minutes and you get tossed? I said, ‘OG you taught me a lot, but you never really taught me to get tossed in like three minutes. It was kind of like a big brother moment, but I got to be big bro this time, you know? So it was a good moment for me.”
Udonis Haslem : 4 points on 2-2 shooting & 1 rebound in 3 minutes off the bench (2021 season debut. Got ejected with 10:19 left in the 2nd quarter after making contact with Dwight Howard) pic.twitter.com/y01eMRYJmf
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life) May 14, 2021
Jimmy Butler added: “Don’t put OG in the game because he’s looking to fight.”
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Jimmy Butler: ‘Nobody Intimidates Us’
Haslem’s antics may have stolen the headlines but the Heat proved why they are going to be a dangerous out in the NBA playoffs. They jumped out to a 16-point first-quarter lead over the Sixers on Thursday night and never looked back in a 106-94 victory.
Butler paced Miami with a game-high 21 points, including 4-of-4 from deep — who knew Jimmy Buckets could hit three-pointers? — while posting a +15 in 29 minutes. Adebayo scored 18 points and Tyler Herro added 18 off the bench as they staked a 26-point advantage at one point.
Miami (39-31) owns the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and could still leap-frog the Atlanta Hawks (40-31) for the fourth spot with two games left on the schedule (at Milwaukee, May 15; at Detroit, May 16). After the game, Butler chatted with the TNT studio crew and only increased expectations. This team has designs on getting back to the NBA Finals.
#JIMVP 🚂 💨 https://t.co/eyzNWzoJoh
— Brendan Tobin (@Brendan_Tobin) May 14, 2021
“I like our chances against anybody, I guess,” Butler said. “Nobody intimidates us. We take who we got. I think it’s going to be difficult to beat us four times. I think for all of us, we know what we’re capable of … we want to get back there [to the Finals]. We think that we can get back there, but we got to play some really good basketball from here on out.”
Haslem Responds to Viral Sixers’ Ejection
When Haslem left the court early in the second quarter on Thursday night, he understood it was quite possibly his last time playing at AmericanAirlines Arena. It’s been a magical ride, 18 NBA seasons to be exact.
And if the franchise leaves him off the playoff roster — that’s the widely assumed move from those close to the organization — then the Florida native is fine with it. No one repped a Miami Heat jersey better than he did.
Haslem said: “You know I tell people all the time, regardless of what people want to say about my career … Was he a great player? Was he a role player? I feel like I get a lot of criticism for a lot of different things but the one thing that has remained loyal to me is this city, and that’s why I remain loyal to this city. You know what I’m saying? They always hold me down. They always have my back. The energy was amazing.”
Erik Spoelstra, on Udonis Haslem, his present, and his future. pic.twitter.com/mQHFisr7Du
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) May 14, 2021