Two rings would be special for Wade, Haslem
MIAMI -- Mess with D-Wade and you're messing with UD.
Never was that more evident than in Miami's East semifinal last month against Indiana. In Game 5, Tyler Hansbrough had a flagrant foul on Heat star Dwyane Wade that drew blood. The next trip down the court, Wade's bodyguard, Udonis Haslem, walloped Hansbrough with a flagrant foul. The NBA ended up slapping Haslem with a one-game suspension.
"When Dwyane took that hit, Udonis the next play responded," Heat center Joel Anthony said. "He wasn't just protecting his teammate, it was him protecting his brother. They're real close."
Both Wade and Haslem, who have been teammates since both were rookies in 2003-04, agree they're like brothers. And in Thursday's Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the two hope to share another great moment together.
Wednesday marked six years to the day Wade and Haslem were on the Miami team that closed out Dallas 4-2 for the 2006 championship. They're the only holdovers from that team who can win another ring if the Heat, who lead Oklahoma City 3-1, eliminate the Thunder.
"It's that forever bond," Wade, a sleek guard, said about what he has with Haslem, a rugged forward. "Obviously, we're going to have that no matter what happens (in these Finals). But if you can add some championships to your resume, you're going to have the moments… Being in this position again, another Finals, another opportunity, it's special for me and UD, no question about it."
It the Heat hold off the Thunder, Wade and Haslem will be on a short list. The only other players still on teams they won multiple rings for are Kobe Bryant (five), Pau Gasol (two) and Andrew Bynum (two) of the Lakers and Tim Duncan (four), Manu Ginobili (three) and Tony Parker (three) of San Antonio.
"We're very fortunate," Haslem said. "A lot of teams, you don't really get to be with the organization for a long period for whatever reason. The business side of things, you really can't control. We were here for the first championship run and some tough years, some hard-fought years. We're just fortunate to still be a part of this organization, to still have another chance to get it done."
Wade and Haslem entered the NBA in 2003 with much different resumes. Wade was the No. 5 pick in the draft out of Marquette while Haslem had been undrafted out of Florida in 2002 and had spent a year playing in France.
The two hit it off instantly and were key cogs when the Heat in 2004 won a playoff series for the first time in four years and just the second time in seven seasons. Two years later, the Pat Riley-coached Heat won the title with a outfit Riley on Wednesday called the "favorite team" of his career.
Some much less successful years followed, including a disastrous 15-67 campaign in Riley's last coaching season of 2007-08. But the Heat set their sights on a rich free-agent class in 2010, and they cashed in that summer with acquisitions of LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
"I would love to play with him for the rest of my career," Wade said of Haslem. "I'm just happy that we're both able to be in this moment again six years later (with) how close we are. It wouldn't feel right if I wasn't a part of it or he wasn't a part of it, because we have come into this franchise and helped change the outlook together."
Wade, 30, said he and Haslem, 32, have been there for each other throughout the years for issues on and off the court. In early July 2010, Wade got James and Bosh to take slightly less money to help the Heat give Haslem a five-year, $20 million contract, which was still about $14 million less overall than he could have gotten elsewhere.
Wade provided support later that month when Haslem's mother, Debra Haslem, died of cancer. Wade, whose mother Jolinda Wade, was very close to Haslem's mother, tweeted at the time, "Sending a prayer out for my brother UD and his family."
"I consider him family," Haslem said of Wade. "We consider each other brothers. I'm real close with his mom. I speak to her once or twice a week."
So now you know why Haslem reacted the way he did when Hansbrough knocked down Wade. He simply did what a lot of guys would do when somebody messes with their little brother.
"When you hit him, he hits you," said guard Mike Miller, who once was Haslem's teammate at Florida and rejoined him last season on the Heat. "So that just shows how it is. UD and D-Wade always will have that bond."
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson