Udonis Haslem just made his first start in nearly three years

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Udonis Haslem rarely gets a chance to start these days. But the Heat needed him Thursday night against a group of young players who weren’t even born when he joined the NBA.

There are veteran leaders and then there is Udonis Haslem.

He is currently in his 20th NBA season, all with the Miami Heat. For the seventh season in a row, he is playing on a one-year, veteran minimum contract, acting as a stabilizing force on Miami’s bench with his experience and leadership. But that role rarely requires him to actually take the floor. Over the course of those seven one-year contracts, he’s played a total of 63 games and just 442 minutes.

He’s not often called upon to play actual basketball but the Heat needed him Thursday night against the Houston Rockets and Haslem made his first start since the 2019-20 bubble season. He played just 11 minutes, missing all four of his shots, but his presence must have helped somehow because the Heat came away with a 111-108 win.

Udonis Haslem was facing players from an entirely different era

This game made for great trivia fodder not just because it was Haslem’s first start in nearly three years. As Adam Spolane of Sports Radio 610 in Houston pointed out, Haslem’s age was particularly noteworthy against the ultra-young Houston Rockets.

That Florida team also featured eventual NBA players Matt Bonner and Mike Miller, who both retired after the 2016-17 seasons. Of the eventual NBA players on the 2006 and 2007 Florida Gators who won a pair of championships — Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Marreese Speights, Chris Richard, Taurean Green — Horford is the only one still playing.

Haslem is the Miami Heat’s all-time leader in rebounds and he will finish his career second to Dwyane Wade in games and minutes played. He also won three championships with the Heat, acting as a bridge between the Dwyane Wade solo era, and the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade Heatles.

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