Miami Heat news: Shaquille O’Neal sets record straight on Udonis Haslem

Shaq, Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Shaq, Udonis Haslem, Miami Heat (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) /

Hall of Fame former teammate Shaquille O’Neal said Udonis Haslem is the third-best Miami Heat player of all time

Shaquille O’Neal, one of the greatest centers in the history of the NBA, holds a very highly regarded position within Miami Heat history. O’Neal, after having had many years of success with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers before joining the Heat, led Miami to their first franchise in team history along with Dwyane Wade in 2006.

O’Neal averaged 20.0 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks that season and his experience in previously grueling NBA Finals series was invaluable to the Heat. He acted as a player-mentor for the likes of a young Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, both in their second year with the Heat.

Of all Heat players of all-time, O’Neal sits sixth in blocks, first in field goal percentage, and third in points and rebounds per game. There’s an argument to be made that O’Neal is a top-5 player of franchise history, and perhaps even top-3.

Shaq himself would refute the latter, taking to Instagram to refute a list that placed him behind Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

Shaq suggested it is Udonis Haslem that should be third, not himself. On this list, Haslem is sixth.

It’s a controversial take, no doubt. This list here as Chris Bosh and Alonzo Mourning placed above Haslem, so let’s take a look at which of those three might be worthy of the third slot if it isn’t Shaq.

Mourning is a Hall of Famer, Bosh is set to be one soon enough. Bosh was the third-best player during the team’s most dominant era, and stuck around following LeBron’s departure, closing his career with the Heat.

Here’s where Mourning, Bosh, and Haslem rank on franchise leaderboards:

  • Mourning is 3rd in minutes played, Bosh 10th, Haslem 2nd
  • Mourning is 2nd in total rebounds, Bosh 7th, Haslem 1st
  • Mourning is 1st in blocks, Bosh 7th, Haslem 9th
  • Mourning is 2nd in points, Bosh 5th, Haslem 7th

Haslem was around for all three of the Heat’s titles and has been with the team since 2003, a career that has now spanned 17 seasons.

In recent years his role on the team hasn’t been directly on the floor, but rather, he’s taken a background role and played where and when the Heat need him, mostly serving as a guiding voice for the roster.

With the Heat stocking a bunch of young players, having a culture enforcer like Haslem in the locker room is key.

Haslem has the statistical data that backs up his case for being the third-best player, but his hard work, grit, and determination are extremely representative of the abstract culture element the Heat seek to make prevalent in their locker room.

Haslem is a personification of that culture. He’s a symbol of how the hard work gets you championships, and though the numbers are there for Haslem, you have to look deeper than that.

Haslem also grew up in the Miami community, adding contextual meaning to his career with the local team.

And the fact that Shaq says Udonis is above him, come on, that has to count for something.

Next. How Haslem and the Heat pushed the real culture. dark