MIAMI – Every year Udonis Haslem recalls the bonding during the Big Three era and how those moments off the court were as crucial the time on the court for the Heat.
So Haslem continues to organize a team outing at the start of each season, usually at Hard Rock Stadium where he and his teammates take in a Dolphins game.
That time came Sunday.
“I really believe building those relationships off the floor translates to being successful on the floor,” Haslem said Monday after the Heat shootaround in preparation for its game against Atlanta.
“I’m a huge Dolphins fan and that’s something I love to do in my free time and I take my family all the time. I consider these guys part of my family so I figured why not take them.”
Haslem no longer owns a luxury suite so he purchased field passes for his teammates. The team stood in the southeast corner of the field to watch Miami’s 31-28 come-from-behind victory over the Jets.
Wayne Ellington’s first taste of the Dolphins outing was last year.
“It’s very important, it’s crucial,” said Ellington who admitted he’s not much of a football fan but claims the Eagles as his team. He was born just outside of Philadelphia.
“We all know each other pretty well, there’s a few new faces, but at the same time it’s a brand new season for us. Doing things together outside of being in here and basketball, just coming together, it translates to the court.”
And for one more reason. Haslem said he still has to explain American football to native Slovenian Goran Dragic, who is much more familiar with futbol.
“I’m not a professional at football, but the last play was crazy with the Jets,” Dragic said about Bobby McCain’s interception with 39 seconds to play that led to Cody Parkey’s 39-yard game winning field goal with 22 seconds remaining.
“The quarterback threw the ball straight into our guys arms and we got that interception.”
Dragic, though, left after the interception so did not see Parkey’s field goal.
“I didn’t stay for the last play, but I know there was the kick and we won,” he said.
Dragic, voted a tri-captain along with Haslem and James Johnson, also believes it’s important for the team to spend time together off the field. Aside from taking in a Dolphins games last season, the team gathered in Portland for a dinner at a restaurant in which coach Erik Spoelstra is a part owner.
“It’s really important,” Dragic said. “We have a few new players so we want to get to know them off the floor, too. It’s nice when you hang out and just enjoy company and nice to talk.”
Haslem has treated his teammates in the past, too. “It’s a business expense,” he said.
Dragic, though, said his and Johnson’s time is coming to as newly-minted captains.
“Me and JJ will have to arrange something different,” he said.