Heat's Udonis Haslem Says He's Undecided About Retirement Ahead of 18th Season

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2020

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 22:  Dwayne Wade and Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat talk after Wade's jersey retirement ceremony on February 22, 2020 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Udonis Haslem has spent nearly two decades with the Miami Heat, helping the team win three titles and serving the city he was born and raised in as best he can.

The 39-year-old figures to retire sooner than later, but he told Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald that the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing NBA hiatus complicates that decision. 

"It's hard to really say now because all the things that I really wanted at the end have been taken away from me. You want to walk away on your own terms, that has been taken away. You want an opportunity for the people that have loved and supported you and sacrificed so much for you to be here in this time of your career, that has been taken away. And you want to have something connected with the organization when you walk away."

It's been 17 years since the undrafted forward out of the University of Florida played himself onto the Heat's roster, and in that time, his relationship with the city has only grown deeper. He's spent his time during the NBA's hiatus giving back to the city by donating and delivering meals from the local restaurant he co-owns with Dwyane Wade to police officers, health care workers and others in need around Miami.

Haslem nearly retired after the 2018-19 season, but he decided to come back for another go-round, agreeing to a one-year deal for this season. He was hoping when his retirement did come, he'd be able to properly say goodbye. Now, he's not sure whether that'll be possible.

"Me and the Miami Heat will always be connected, that hasn't been taken away. But I wanted to have the opportunity to sit down and plan something with them. I'll never have something close to like what Dwyane had. But the organization and myself deserve to have one particular night when we have a situation collectively to represent one another and do it the right away."

The forward isn't alone on that front, as Vince Carter will wrap up his legendary career under similar circumstances. Carter, who already announced that this would be his final season, may not get a chance to walk off the court after waving goodbye. It all depends on whether the league is able to resume play at some point this season.

Haslem said playing games in empty arenas wouldn't make things any easier in that regard. 

"That would really suck. I owe a lot to a lot of people who sacrificed a lot through the years for me to get to this point in my career. They sacrificed a lot. When I thought about my last game and last year and how I would do it personally, it would be completely different compared to other people who support me and love me and have been there for me the last 17 years. So selfishly, I would just disappear. But I owe a lot of people that night. That night, whenever it happens, it won't be about me. Just know it will be about them."

Even as he plans for his final game, Haslem is focused on doing right by those in Miami. He may not get the night he deserves, but the city won't forget him.