Udonis Haslem is the shining example of a veteran leader in the NBA. Even though his days of contributing heavily on an NBA roster are far behind him, Haslem is the oldest player in the NBA purely based on the leadership he has provided to the Miami Heat on the bench.
However, Haslem has been doing that as an active player and not an assistant coach. He is put through everything that the players are put through. The Miami Heat conditioning regime is widely considered the toughest in the NBA, as the franchise expects its players to put in heavy work, so being out of shape is not an option.
Haslem can keep up with the Heat players from a fitness perspective even at his age because he saw the roadmap to longevity while playing alongside LeBron James. Watching how LeBron took care of his body, Haslem started adopting similar practices in his life.
LeBron and Haslem won 2 championships together in Miami and faced off in the 2020 NBA Finals. Haslem has been with the Miami Heat since 2003, with this being his 20th season with the franchise.
“There’s no way I’m able to still be out here running and jumping and keeping up with these guys at 42 if I didn’t take care of my body in a certain way. So that was definitely something I took out of Bron’s book.”
– Udonis Haslem
— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) January 5, 2023
Have Players Cracked The Code Of Longevity?
Even 10 years ago, aging players would lose their value much faster than today due to everyone expecting an inevitable downfall. While that is still true for 95% of the league, the best players are finding ways to be effective in their mid-to-late 30s.
LeBron is the easiest example, given his focus on his body has led him to be able to take the strain of 9 NBA Finals in 10 years and still be knocking on the door of the all-time scoring record. However, players like Kevin Durant are just getting better with age, with KD also successfully recovering from a torn Achilles. Klay Thompson returned and dropped 54 and won a title after tearing his Achilles and ACL.
We’re going to see much longer primes from players that take care of their bodies incessantly, which should be extremely exciting for the talent we’ll have in the league competing against each other.