Udonis Haslem’s altercation with Philadelphia 76ers center Dwight Howard may not be a bad thing for the Miami Heat.
It was an intense Thursday at the American Airlines Arena as the Heat beat the Sixers, 106-94. Topping all the game highlights was Haslem’s dust-up with Sixers’ Howard in the second quarter.
Haslem, who was playing his first game of the season, engaged in a heated exchange with Howard and got ejected after two minutes of basketball. While most would think that the veteran forward’s act would have a negative impact on the Heat, the team shockingly took the good with the bad and sees a whole lot of positivity in it.
“That’s my favorite moment of the season so far,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of the incident after the game. “Just excessive passion, competitiveness, and anger. I just love it. That’s why we roll with U.D. [Haslem].”
“Everybody in that locker room just has great respect and love for him,” he revealed. “He’s all about the team. He’s all about these moments.”
Heat star shooting guard Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, admitted that he loves witnessing altercations during games. According to Butler, he even “encourages” it as it fuels him to become more passionate about winning.
“I love confrontation, altercation, and all of that good stuff,” Butler told reporters of Haslem and Howard’s confrontation. “I feed off it — we feed off it. I encourage it.”
“I want to win [and] keep winning,” the five-time NBA All-Star explained. “You can call it whatever you want to call it. I’m not going to say that we’re trying to prove it to anybody. We just know what we’re capable of.”
For Heat big man Bam Adebayo, he already knew what Haslem was about to do the moment he saw the 40-year-old having some words with Howard. Like Butler and Spoelstra, Adebayo too had “no problem with it.”
“I think it was UD getting his opportunity to be himself,” Adebayo said. “We all know UD. When it happened, I was looking and was like, ‘Okay, he is about to go off.’ Then, sure enough, boom, boom, tech, tech, and he is out of here. I had no problem with it.”
The Heat has won eight of its last 10 games and has already clinched a spot in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
The Thursday win over the no. 1-seeded Sixers and Haslem’s competitiveness despite his age are evidently vital to the Heat’s morale as the team looks to defend its Eastern Conference title.
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