MIAMI—It was a quiet moment before another Dwyane Wade moment, which is the way Udonis Haslem said he prefers it.
Moments later, his friend would win over another crowd in his final appearance in Atlanta. But as Haslem winds down a 16th NBA season of his own, it is being done in the shadows.
“I mean, stuff like that doesn’t really matter to me,” the chiseled power forward said of the jersey swaps and embraces Wade has been sharing during his “One Last Dance” retirement tour.
And that is when Haslem opens the window into why he is so different than so many who have wound down championship careers.
“It doesn’t really matter to me who notices,” he said in a private moment. “I don’t really have too many friends in this league, anyway.”
It is a comment that creates pause, but one not offered particularly forlornly.
Rather, it is a measure of a man who has embraced competition as, well, competition, which in many ways makes him far more like his boss, Heat president Pat Riley, than his close friend who ordered extra No. 3 jerseys to commemorate his retirement season.
“Except for these guys in the locker room, guys who I have really gotten deep down into it with, who I’ve played with, I don’t need to be sharing hugs and stuff like that,” said Haslem, 38. “But the people who matter to me most, they know where my mind is at.”