You gotta respect your O.G.s.
Udonis Haslem had the most efficient Stone Cold Steve Austin like entry into an NBA game this season with his ejection last night. To make his 18th NBA season official, the long-time Miami Heat forward had to actually play in a game, which he did last night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Haslem got into a confrontation with Dwight Howard, the lips seeming to read, “I’ma hit you in ya fuckin’ mouth,” before the two had to be separated, and the 40-year-old heart-and-soul of the Heat was ejected. And, as a result, his final line was as follows:
Three minutes played, really a shade under, four points, one rebound, two technical fouls, one ejection, two standing ovations — and numerous happy teammates.
Haslem, wearing a hat that read, “Z E R O F R I E N D S,” joked about it after the game.
“If this is the last one, I finished it the way only Udonis Haslem could, with an ejection,” he said with a smile.
He added, “Obviously, he’s [Howard] very physical. Dwight plays the way Dwight plays, and it was just a conversation between me and him where I just wanted to make it clear that the throwing down and the swinging of the elbows and things like that, I just felt like, we should kind of leave that out of the game for tonight. And I think he disagreed. When he disagreed, I disagreed, and it was a whole bunch of disagreeing.”
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was unable to suppress a smile beneath his mask when questioned about it.
“That was my favorite moment of the season so far,” he said. “Just excessive passion, competitiveness, and anger. Just love it. And that’s why we roll with UD. Everybody in that locker room just has great respect and love for him.”
I mean, just look at Bam Adebayo; he straight up couldn’t help himself.
“I was just like, yo, this motherfucker’s crazy!” Adebayo reacted. “I was like, UD, you can’t get tossed in the first four minutes, bro. How long was he in the game? Four minutes!?”
And when told it was three, Adebayo responded, “Three! Three minutes and you get tossed! I said, O.G., you taught me a lot, but you ain’t ever [taught] me to get tossed in three minutes like that. It was like a big brother moment, but I got to be big bro at that time.”
And Jimmy Butler, who ended the 106-94 coast-to-coast victory with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting (and an uncanny 4-of-4 display from three), also loved it.
“It’s at the top,” he said when asked where Haslem’s ejection ranks on his favorite Heat moments. “I love confrontation, altercations, all of that good stuff. I feed off it; we feed off it. I encourage it.”
With the win, the Heat are tied for the Knicks for fifth in the Eastern Conference, but have a tiebreaker in their favor. At 39-31, they’d play the Atlanta Hawks in Round 1 if the playoffs began today, and having won 11-of-14, they’re one of the hottest teams in the league ahead of the upcoming postseason. It’s even a bit reminiscent of how they ended last regular season before their NBA Championship bid.
Last night also signaled the end of the Vice Era. No more Miami Vice jerseys, so R.I.P. to one of the great eras in NBA uniform history, as polarizing as the current edition is.
As for the O.G., there are no regrets.
“I am who I am; I can’t change now,” Haslem said. “My step-mom takes me right after the game and said I did the right thing, so I have no doubts in my mind I did the right thing.”