Udonis Haslem to get his own Section 305 at Heat arena as part of season-ending tribute
To put the designation into perspective, consider that Udonis Haslem is about to get something from the Miami Heat that Dwyane Wade, Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Pat Riley and the other icons of the franchise’s 35 seasons don’t have:
His own section in the Heat’s house, when on March 25 the team formally will dedicate Section 305 at Miami-Dade Arena for Mr. 305.
“It’s going to end up being a really cool in-arena aspect that’s going to live on forever,” Heat executive vice president Michael McCullough said. “But because he’s such a man of the people and he represents the 305, it worked out really, really well for us to be able to take that section and really create this Udonis tribute section.”
Such will be among the highlights of what the Miami Heat’s marketing department has designated as “4 Days of 40,” a tribute to the 42-year-old team captain who is completing his 20th season with the franchise.
No, the four days of tributes are not a farewell statement, certainly not a jersey retirement.
Instead, just something the team’s marketing wing is terming, “a fun, fan-first campaign celebrating Haslem’s unique journey and lifelong connection to the city of Miami.”
The four elements of the celebration of player and career, as released at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday (3/05) are:
March 23: The debut of an ongoing digital content series to feature articles, videos and interactive social media based on Haslem’s impact.
March 24: Court Culture, the Heat’s in-house lifestyle brand, will release “The UD Collection,” which features four new t-shirts.
March 25: The Heat will host “UD Night” as part of that night’s home game against the Brooklyn Nets, at which time “Section 305″ will be unveiled.
March 26: Haslem will be honored at the team’s annual Family Festival.
“We’ve been trying to go out of our way thinking about how we can properly just kind of say, ‘Thank you,’ and recognize what he’s meant to this organization,” McCullough said of the team’s marking wing.
The four days of tribute, McCullough said, are merely the precursor to the formal Haslem celebrations that are coordinated through the team’s basketball-operations department.
“Jersey retirement is the finale of everything,” McCullough said of when Haslem’s No. 40 is expected to go to the rafters next season. “That’s all the pomp, all the circumstance, ‘This is the final stamp of a great career.’
“His final regular-season game coming up on April 9, that is from an on-court, at-home standpoint, ‘Hey, this is Udonis’ last regular-season home game.’ Clearly, we hope there are more games [in the postseason]. But as far as something that we know, it is his last regular-season home game.”
The “4 Days of 40,” McCullough said, are an appetizer to headier moments.
“These four days are more like if this was like a backyard barbecue or a house party and you’re sitting around and you’re swapping Udonis stories,” he said. “That’s the tone of these four days.”
McCullough said the marketing wing’s celebration did not have to come with a formal retirement statement from Haslem, who said at the start of this season this would be his final go-round.
“We know what everybody else knows,” McCullough said. “We know what we’ve been told. So we’re acting accordingly. But that’s not our conversation to have.
“We feel like he is owed something from us.”
For the four days of celebration, which come amid the Heat’s heated position in the Eastern Conference playoff race, McCullough said Haslem’s participation will not be required, including no plans for him to address the crowd on “UD Night.”
“He has a game to play,” McCullough said. “These games are all important.”
If there is to be a Haslem farewell statement at Miami-Dade Arena, McCullough said it likely would come at the April 9 regular-season finale against the visiting Orlando Magic.
“We’ll make that request,” McCullough said. “We haven’t made it yet.”