MIAMI Ė On Wednesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, Udonis Haslem will likely surpass Heat legend Alonzo Mourning as the franchiseís all-time leading rebounder.
All Haslem needs is two rebounds. Haslem has pulled down 4,806 rebounds in a Heat uniform while Mourning hauled in 4,807 during his tenure for the team.
How does a guy whoís generously listed at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds become the rebounding champion of an NBA franchise that has existed for decades?
Thatís the question I posed to three men whom collectively have coached Haslem since he was a teenager.
- Frank Martin -- Haslemís former high school coach at Miami Senior High School and current head coach of the South Carolina University. Martin won the Big 12 Coach of the Year award in 2010 while at Kansas State. Haslem won two Florida state championships under Martin.
- David Thorpe -- ESPN.com Insider, NBA scout and executive director of the Pro Training Center, a workout haven for NBA players and aspiring NBA players alike. Thorpe is often credited as the coach who turned Haslemís potential as an NBA player into a reality by teaching him his patented jump shot and the value of rebounding.
- Erik Spoelstra -- current Heat head coach and the longest-tenured coach of Haslemís NBA career.
Here are the stories they told to help us understand how a player of Haslemís size can stand so tall in NBA history.
There are hometown heroes and then there is Udonis Haslem.
To understand Haslem, you must first understand where he came from. In June of 1980, he was born in a hospital seven miles from the Heatís AmericanAirlines Arena. He grew up in the heart of Miami in an area called Liberty City, widely considered the most crime-ridden and bloodiest six square miles inside Miamiís city limits. Thatís where Haslem was raised, where he was hardened.
After a brief stint up the road in Jacksonville, FL, he moved back to South Florida to attend Miami Senior high school, a basketball powerhouse with a national reputation. Thatís where he played for Martin and won two state titles 1997 and 1998 alongside Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Blake. Martin speaks of Haslem like Haslem was his son.