MIAMI — There's a budding rivalry between Indianapolis and Miami because of each city's strong NBA teams, and it turns out the competition extends beyond the court.
"I was the original Jared before there was Jared," Udonis Haslem said with a smile.
Jared Fogle has been one of Indianapolis' more visible citizens, ever since he became Subway's suddenly svelte pitchman in 2000. Haslem is one of Miami's favorite sons. Each has turned to the sandwich chain to stay in shape, even if Haslem did it a little earlier in his life. As a kid, he would eat Subway to lose enough weight to be able to compete with his peers in Pop Warner football.
Haslem is much slimmer now, so slim that he sometimes struggles to keep enough pounds on. But he still frequents the franchise, for double turkey meat, light lettuce, pickles, olives, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper and mayonnaise. And now, he's decided to become one of the many NBA players—current and former—to take a shot at franchise ownership. Saturday, Haslem's first Subway franchise will open at the Oakwood Plaza in Hollywood, Fla., with a grand opening scheduled for Dec. 12.
"It's been probably on my mind the last three or four years, just trying to build something else outside of basketball," said Haslem, who has a player option after this season.
Haslem is hardly the only Heat player thinking that way. Nine of the 15 players on the roster are at least 31 years old, and four are at least 34. While their financial worth varies—with Rashard Lewis and Dwyane Wade having made $155 million and $120 million, respectively, from basketball alone—they all seem to have some recognition that the ball eventually stops bouncing.
Wade has recently introduced sock and tie lines to go with several other ventures. However, after a negative experience, he's not likely to re-enter the restaurant business anytime soon. Shane Battier and Ray Allen have countless options available, from broadcasting to business, should either choose to retire after this season.
Lewis currently owns a piece of six racehorses, including an accomplished four-year-old named Cigar Street, though that won't be his primary post-basketball activity.
"I don't want to dump all my money into horses," he said. "I'm not that crazy."
He's dabbling in real estate, and he has invested in a new healthy restaurant chain named EVO, and the Ritz Carlton in Turks & Caicos.
Roger Mason Jr. is bringing a pizzeria to South Florida from Naples, Italy—by way of New York—and he runs Weight Entertainment company, which has done joint ventures with Universal Records.
"I've been an entrepreneur for the past three or four years," Mason said.
James Jones, like Mason on the executive committee of the NBA Players Association, has explored opportunities in construction, franchising, politics and just about everything else.
"It's great to have endeavors but, at the end of the day, I want to manage and understand them," Jones said. "So my life and my career as an NBA player has really been about experiences and about exposure, trying to figure out the type of things that I like. Because I know being in the league opens doors for you. It doesn't mean you have to rush in and ransack the room, but you open those lines of communication when you're playing, and then when you're done, you get your hands dirty and understand your business. We have a lot of life left after we leave this game."
Jones is 33.
"You're looking at 50 years, so whatever I'm a part of, I want to understand it, so that 30 years down the line, I can be one of the best at it," Jones said. "Guys who find something they like, and they are interested in, it's better to do it sooner rather than later, to take the bumps and bruises before their career is over."
That was Haslem's thought when he applied for his franchisee license.
"I had to take the Wonderlic test, if you can believe that," he said. "I'm authorized to go in and make sandwiches. So I think I'm gonna have fun with it. I'm going to pick out a couple days out of the month, and maybe send out a couple tweets and go by for an hour, and just make a few sandwiches and just have some fun with it."
He'll eat a few, too.
"It's crazy, every birthday, I get four or five Subway gift cards from my family members," Haslem said. "Nobody knows what to get me. So I don't know if that's them taking the easy way out, like a cop-out, or they really want me to eat that many sandwiches. But I'll take it. I get my use out of them. I'll be going to my stores and using my gift cards and, at the end of the day, I'll just be paying myself."
Maybe in more than one place. Haslem's off-court team is already scouting other locations, and he plans to tie in his children's foundation, as a means of countering childhood obesity.
Or, perhaps, just helping some aspiring athlete—named Jared or not—make weight.
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