On Wednesday afternoon, the Miami Heat made an official announcement: Udonis Haslem will be returning to play his 17th season with the team.
Haslem joined the Miami Heat back in 2003 after going undrafted in the 2002 NBA Draft. The former Florida Gator immediately made his presence felt as he helped the team reach an Eastern Conference semifinal appearance in his rookie year alongside fellow NBA newcomer Dwayne Wade.
Since then, Haslem quickly became a Heat fan favorite. Largely due to his gritty and consistent style of play. The Miami-born power forward has maintained a prominent role in the team since he joined the league and has since even been dubbed 'Mr.305.'
Haslem's grit and sacrifice for the team was embodied after a particular game in the 2012 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers. UD took a hit to the face that opened a gash over his eye, but Haslem went on to dominate the game and help lead the Heat to a huge win. It was even immortalized in some sweet Heat merch.
After Dwyane Wade announced his farewell last season, Haslem left things unclear as to whether he would join his longtime teammate and close friend in retirement.
Haslem even addressed the wide speculation on his return this offseason in a lengthy Instagram post filled with strong words for his haters.
"I'm not saying I am playing next year but if you with me then you will support whatever I do, " Haslem writes in the post. UD goes on to say, "I'll sleepwalk into a double double because I'm just built different."
Strong words, but Haslem has proven he can walk the walk.
Remember: Haslem is the Heat's all-time leader in rebounds in the regular season and a three-time NBA champion.
As beloved as UD may be, fans were a bit torn on the Heat's decision to re-sign the 39-year-old to a one-year $2.6M contract. Here's what some skeptics had to say:
That being said, some fans refuse to deny the all-important "Culture" aspect that Haslem has brought to the team throughout all these years.
Catch Haslem alongside the rest of the Heat squad as they face the San Antonio Spurs for this season's first preseason game on October 8th at the American Airlines Arena.