A story about an Uber driver who ended up telling some good Udonis Haslem stories

Denver Nuggets guard Mike Miller (3) and Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Denver. The Heat won 106-98. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver Nuggets guard Mike Miller (3) and Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Denver. The Heat won 106-98. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

OAKLAND, Calif. — We were just looking to make the 20-mile drive to the University of San Francisco for Heat shootaround.

We were just three Heat beat writers (Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald and I) on the road looking for an Uber. But we learned this Tuesday morning ride would be a little different.

When we mentioned we covered the Heat, our Uber driver said he used to be good friends with Udonis Haslem. A friendship that began when the two played basketball in France together in 2002-03.

We instantly started fact-checking that claim. It was real.

Damon Taylor was the Uber driver’s name. And Damon didn’t miss the opportunity to tell some good Udonis stories to three people who also knew the man.

For one, Damon said Udonis would eat two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before every game in France because he just didn’t like the food over there.

“It’s just what I was accustomed to and what I knew,” Udonis said confirming the story after Tuesday’s shootaround. “So I stuck with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and turkey sandwiches. I kept it real nice and simple.”

That probably explains why Udonis lost 80 pounds over an eight-month stretch in France.

But there’s another story, and it has to do with a trip to Switzerland that included an interesting experience. Damon, Udonis and a car full of people were trying to get across the border when Damon realized he forgot his passport.

What was the solution? Put Damon in the trunk.

“I don’t know nothing about the trunk,” Udonis said with a smile when asked about Damon’s story. “I don’t know nothing about going through Switzerland in the trunk. I don’t know nothing about that. I plead the fifth.”

But Udonis does remember Damon. They haven’t spoken in years, but they shared some interesting experiences as two young American basketball players in a foreign country.

They even made a song together that Udonis described as “gospel rap.”

“It helped ourselves maybe stay out of trouble,” Udonis said. “We wrote a little song over there, making beats on the computer.”

Udonis went on to have a long NBA career with his hometown Heat and Damon is now a musician living in California after leaving basketball in 2006. Damon goes by “Dame Drummer.”

But Udonis does remember Damon Taylor the basketball player. A 6-foot-8 forward.

“He was pretty good,” Udonis said. “He played in a different city. He was athletic. He worked hard, played hard. We had a good time.”

When we got out of the Uber after the hour-long ride, Damon gave us his card, wrote his number on it and told us to give it to Udonis. And Udonis smiled when we gave him the card.

“I remember Dame,” Udonis said.

It’s a small world.

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