Wizards

Haslem closing in on Heat rebound record

Haslem closing in on Heat rebound record

MIAMI (AP) When Udonis Haslem was trying to make the Miami Heat take notice of him a decade ago, assistant coach Keith Askins gave him one piece of advice.

He told Haslem every NBA player can score, but not everyone rebounds.

Haslem remembers that conversation so well that he's about to become the most prolific rebounder in Heat history.

Odds are, he'll have that title sometime Wednesday night, when the reigning NBA champion Heat start a homestand against the Milwaukee Bucks. Haslem will come into that game needing only two rebounds to pass Alonzo Mourning for Miami's all-time lead in that department - Mourning grabbed 4,807 rebounds in 593 regular-season Heat games, while Haslem is at 4,806 rebounds after 605 games.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he knows that moment will be ``pretty special,'' especially considering that Haslem is a Miami native who practically had to fight his way into the arena to make the team after being undrafted out of Florida.

``It's a great story, coming from Liberty City, not being drafted and absolutely earning everything he's gotten in this league and for this organization,'' Spoelstra said. ``I've said this time and time again: We have core values for this organization. We can list them for you, we can define them for you, or we can just give a picture of UD. That will tell the whole story.

``He embodies all that we want in a Miami Heat basketball player.''

Miami is opening a stretch where it will play 10 of its next 11 (and 12 of its next 14) games at home. The Heat just went 4-2 on a Western road swing, playing three of those games without Dwyane Wade and winning the trip's finale even with LeBron James ailing with a bug that made its way around parts of the Miami locker room.

Haslem, if all goes to plan, won't be starting any of those games. He ceded that role in 2009, saying at the time it was best for the team. A year earlier as a starter, he grabbed 618 rebounds. That next season, playing exclusively as a reserve, he grabbed 629 rebounds - despite playing six fewer minutes a night.

And if becoming Miami's top rebounder wasn't enough, the chance to earn that title at home - the Heat play their next four games on their home floor, so the odds are pretty high that even if it doesn't happen Wednesday, Haslem will find those two boards before the team hits the road again - adds plenty more significance to the hometown guy.

``To do it in front of my family, in front of my friends, so many people that I love and care about, in front of my home fans that have supported me for so long, it's going to be a great accomplishment,'' Haslem said.

Haslem and Wade are the only Heat players to be part of both Miami championship teams, and they're 1-2 on the team's all-time list in games played, with Haslem ahead of his fellow co-captain by a single appearance.

He's been one of Miami's favorite basketball sons for going on two decades now. Best known, perhaps, for his much-bigger size when he played college ball with the Gators, it's often forgotten that Haslem scored a game-high 27 points when Florida lost the 2000 national championship game to Michigan State. Haslem's 10-for-12 shooting that night is still the third-best field-goal effort in NCAA title game history.

``UD always rises to the occasion,'' Wade said.

Imagine if he was taller. At Florida, he was listed at 6-foot-9. These days, the Heat say he's 6-foot-8.

Both, it turns out, are slightly generous. (''Ehhhh, 6-7. And a half. Three-quarters. With my shoes on,'' Haslem said.)

``We always talk about height not mattering,'' James said. ``It's about willpower and about strength and determination. I'll be happy for him when it happens. Wednesday can't get here fast enough.''

Haslem defends centers who are half-a-foot taller and in some cases half-a-foot wider, he plays through injuries whenever possible, and one of the iconic images of last season's playoff run came when he was bloodied in a game against the Indiana Pacers.

The Heat later handed out bandages that said UD-40, his moniker and jersey number, to fans as a tribute.

Soon, there will be another tribute: The team is already planning to collect the ball that will soon become rebound No. 4,808, ensuring the little piece of history gets to stay in Haslem's hands permanently.

``It's pride,'' Haslem said. ``It's just mental toughness. ... The way I was going to make my niche to make this team was to hit the boards and rebound. It's just a tribute to my mindset. If you put your mind to it, and I know people say it a lot, but if you put your mind to it, you can do it. I wasn't a great rebounder in college. Not nearly what I am now. I just really focused in and put my mind on chasing the boards.''

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.

 

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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