MIAMI - After serving a one-game suspension for his flagrant foul during the Heat's series against the Indiana Pacers, forward Udonis Haslem was back at work Saturday with his teammates.
Haslem was suspended for Game 6 of the Heat-Pacers series after he took down Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough during the Heat's 32-point victory in Game 5 on Tuesday in Miami. Haslem traveled with the team to Indiana for Game 6, but the suspension prevented him from attending the game.
So instead, Haslem said Saturday he spent the evening in a suite watching the game at the downtown hotel where the Heat stayed in Indianapolis. Haslem got through the game like most fans - he grabbed a sports drink and a couple of bags of chips while sitting on the sofa.
He regretted not being there for his team, but not necessarily for taking up for teammate Dwyane Wade, who was fouled hard by Hansbrough on a previous play in Game 5 and was also assessed a flagrant-1 foul that was later upgraded to a flagrant-2 penalty.
In the video above, Haslem talks about being back on the court with his teammates as they prepare for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday. He also discussed what it felt like when Wade delivered him the game ball from the Heat's series-clinching victory over the Pacers as players boarded the team flight Thursday back to Miami.
Wade said Saturday he appreciates having Haslem at his side and revealed how deep their relationship runs.
"The biggest thing, I think, for all of us is we understand how much Udonis means to all of us," Wade said. "The foul that he took, you know, in a sense, was a foul for us. Obviously, he took a hard foul and got suspended for a game. With him not playing, we told him we were going to go out there and take care of business. I respect him, what the other captain brought - that toughness for our team."
Wade hopes Haslem stores the game ball away in a nice place. The two have been teammates with the Heat since they came into the league together in 2003. They are the only current members of the team from the 2005-06 championship season.
"For me, it's like having a big brother when you're going to school," Wade said. "You know ain't nobody going to mess with you. And if they do, you'll be calling your big brother."
Because of that, Wade said he tried not to react too angrily after he was fouled by Hansbrough. Wade sensed his most loyal teammate might not take it too well. Haslem has denied that retaliation was his motivation for the foul on Hansbrough.
"I tried to do my impression of trying to calm everything after I got hit, because I know it was a very physical hit," Wade said. "And I know how certain guys respond to that, when they see a guy kind of go after you. (Haslem) had a very good view of it because he was on the baseline when it happened."
Wade attempted to calm his teammates during a brief huddle.
"I tried to act like it was all good, 'Let's just move on guys,'" Wade said of his message. "But (Haslem) is not that guy. I didn't know that (hard foul on Hansbrough) was coming. But I was hoping that it didn't, because I know how thin we were and, like I said, the second guy always gets caught. But we got our guy back and we're ready to move on."