Udonis Haslem on his role: ‘You stay ready, so you don’t got to get ready’

A portrait of Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

A portrait of Udonis Haslem #40 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

MIAMI — As the team captain, Udonis Haslem must lead by example.

After days of telling teammates like Derrick Williams to stay ready despite not getting playing time, Haslem got the opportunity to lead by example.

With Hassan Whiteside in foul trouble for most of Tuesday’s 108-96 win over the Kings, Haslem logged 16 minutes of playing time against Sacramento after not playing in Miami’s first three games of the season. It marked the first 16 minutes Haslem has played in his 14th NBA season.

“Obviously I preach it, but I got to set that example, as well,” Haslem said after Tuesday’s win.

“It’s kind of my job to be ready. Nobody cares if I haven’t played three or four games. If I go out there tonight and I don’t do my job then you guys are going to talk bad about me.”

Haslem didn’t record a point and missed each of his three shots, as he finished with four rebounds, one assist and one steal. But his biggest contribution came on the defensive end against center DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins has drawn the most fouls in the NBA this season at 10 per game. Erik Spoelstra decided to use Haslem’s physicality to defend the two-time All-Star while Whiteside sat on the bench in foul trouble.

“I kind of had a feeling my number would be called tonight,” Haslem said. “So I just wanted to be ready, go out there and play against one of the best bigs in this league and do the best that I can to help contain him and help my team have an opportunity to win it.”

The Heat were outscored by seven points during the 16 minutes Haslem was on the court Tuesday, as he finished as the only Heat player with a negative plus-minus. But Haslem was still effective, as he limited players he was defending — mostly Cousins — to 33.3 percent shooting in the contest.

“U.D. really made (Cousins) work on some key possessions, one of them a big turnover,” Spoelstra said. “Yeah, U.D. does so many things for this basketball team — leadership — but we needed his actual sweat and bruising.”

After it was done, Haslem said his 36-year-old body felt fine. The next time his number is called — whenever that is — he’ll be ready.

“You stay ready, so you don’t got to get ready,” Haslem said.  “Look at this body, what you think? Doesn’t this body look like it’s ready. I hold it together pretty well. It’s a lot of hard work that goes in. So just because I’m not playing, I’m not in the rotation doesn’t change my work ethic, doesn’t change my preparation, doesn’t change my mind set. I’ve been doing this a long time.”

[Heat mailbag: Should Tyler Johnson be in the starting lineup?]

[DeMarcus Cousins: ‘At one point, I thought Hassan Whiteside was a better player than me’]

[Five takeaways from the Heat’s 108-96 overtime victory over the Kings]

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