Udonis Haslem still lobbying for Dwyane Wade to finish career with Miami Heat

Udonis Haslem would like to finish he career beside his ‘brother’ Dwyane Wade. (AP Photo)

HOLLYWOOD – Decked out in green apron and making sure not to confuse a Subway club with an Italian B.M.T., Udonis Haslem – along with partner Jason Taylor – waited on customers at his newest Subway restaurant.

But whether he’s serving footlongs or guesting on the radio, Haslem has become the foremost authority on all things Dwyane Wade.

On Saturday, Haslem reiterated his desire to see Wade return to Miami, the city where he played his first 13 years in the NBA before bolting for Chicago. Wade exercised the option in his contract this summer and will earn $23.8 million. But speculation began immediately of a buyout that would allow the 35-year-old Wade to sign with any other team.

“I would love to have him back, everybody knows that,” Haslem said. “Not only is he a great competitor, great teammate I learned a lot from but also a friend of mine, I consider him a brother.

“I just want Dwyane to be happy. This is the last lap for us both. We deserve to finish it the right way. Whatever makes him happy finishing his career. … hopefully it’s in Miami. I would love for it to be Miami. I want him to finish it right and have no regrets.

Udonis Haslem

Haslem and Wade joined the Heat in 2003 and played together for the next 13 seasons. They remain close friends despite Wade’s decision last summer to sign with his hometown team.

“We talked about finishing our careers together,” Haslem said. “We really want it to be the case. Plans change. So if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t put any strain on our relationship but it’s still a goal of mine. Hopefully we can end it that way.”

But Haslem, who signed a one-year deal this summer for the $2.3 million minimum, said he really can’t help the Heat when it comes to paying Wade. “I will have to take another pay cut to get him back (but) I’m already taking the minimum so I can’t give no money,” Haslem joked.

Miami, though, is holding onto a $4.3 million exception that president Pat Riley has said is there to see if “something pops up.”

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Dolphins Hall of Famer Jason Taylor looks up to Heat’s Udonis Haslem: ‘There’s an aura around him’

HOLLYWOOD – Jason Taylor played 13 seasons for the Miami Dolphins. He has been selected to six Pro Bowls and this summer he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame.

But Taylor cedes his status in the city when it comes to Udonis Haslem, who is preparing to start his 15th season with the Miami Heat.

“He is Mr. Miami. Mr. 305,” Taylor said. “I’m a visitor in his city. I moved down here 21 years ago but this is his city. I’m just paying rent.”

Jason Taylor and Udonis Haslem serving their customers Saturday at Subway in Hollywood. (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

Although Taylor takes a backseat to no one when it comes to athletic prowess in South Florida, but when it comes to dipping into the fast food franchise business, he defers to Haslem. Taylor and Haslem are partners in a Subway restaurant in Hollywood, which held its grand opening Saturday. Although this is Taylor’s first Subway, Haslem’s portfolio includes five Subways, two Auntie Anne’s, a Starbucks and an Einstein Bros. Bagels with another Starbucks and Einstein’s coming soon.

“To partner with someone like that, the champion that he is not only the basketball part but the person that he is,” Taylor said. “You see the heart and the leadership, things that really transcend sports and into the business world.

“He’s a lot further along in the business world in this business than I am. It’s great to partner and try to learn from him.”

For Haslem, a Miami native and lifelong Dolphins fan, going into business with Taylor, 43, is a “dream come true.”

“For me the key to this business thing is to surround myself with good people,” Haslem said. “This is another person that I trust and that I watched do a lot of work over the years.”

Haslem, 37, signed a one-year, veteran minimum contract for $2.3 million this summer. Only Dan Marino will have spent more time wearing the uniform of one of South Florida’s four major sports teams, having quarterbacked the Dolphins for 17 seasons. Haslem will catch former Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, who played for 15 years.

Though appreciative and proud of having overcome going undrafted to becoming a three-time world champion and longtime Heat captain, Haslem said he doesn’t dwell on his longevity, saying one day there will be time to reflect.

“There’s still more to the story I want to continue to write,” he said.

He just leaves that to others, like Taylor.

“There’s an aura around him that I still look up to a little bit,” Taylor said. “He’s got that ring. He’s been the constant. So many pieces around him have changed through the years from championship teams, teams that struggle, back to championship teams, he’s been that one thing that’s remained.

“I was that veteran guy where you become more and more of a mentor. Always being a leader. It’s amazing how much more valuable you become to an organization when you become more altruistic, willing to help guys that need the help. Help the organization sometimes in the unsexy places, in unsexy ways; you got to step outside of being liked sometimes to be true leader. He is all those things.”

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