The Ballad of Udonis Haslem
Also, music for a spring breeze
STICK TO SPORTS
The NBA regular season is winding down, and while there’s plenty of excitement here in the last few days of play (could LeBron and the Lakers get eliminated from the playoffs in a play-in round? can anyone stop the Nets in the East? wtf the Knicks?!?!), it’s not difficult to find mainstream coverage of the most important teams and players. So I won’t bore you with any of that.
MUCH MORE IMPORTANT: I am absolutely buying a blue one of these.
What I will do, however, is talk about the NBA’s least-used player: 19-year veteran Udonis Haslem, who might have just finished the most amazing season of all time.
(For the uninitiated, a brief history of Mr. Haslem follows. If you already know all about him, please feel free to skip ahead to the basketball — you may like what you see.)
Udonis Haslem is the NBA’s oldest current player, a few weeks shy of 41 years and (as mentioned) 18 years deep into his NBA career, all with the Miami Heat. He was never an All-Star, but he started 500 games and was often a very reliable power forward. He’s got three rings to show for his efforts, and he’s inarguably one of the most productive undrafted free agents in league history.
Haslem is also, uh, a bit of a benchwarmer these days.
Haslem has played in just 45 games in the last five seasons combined, including Thursday night’s appearance (we’ll get to that in a second), usually just for smatterings of garbage-time play or cursory starts to reward the Miami faithful. He has long ceased to be a productive member of the team on the court, he’s been making minimum salary for several years running, and it’s only due to the immense value he brings as a teammate, locker room presence and (essentially) a coach-in-uniform that he hasn’t been retired for the better half of a decade.
Essentially, his retirement will be essentially ceremonial; his playing time has virtually no room to fall further, so once the day comes, he’ll just sit closer to the coach and wear a suit more often.
This season has been Haslem’s least active, as the quadragenarian finally made his first appearance in Thursday’s home finale against the mighty Philadelphia 76ers. Haslem took the court to a standing ovation late in the first quarter and quickly made a basket inside as the Heat widened a substantial lead, drained his trademark midrange baseline jumper in the first minute of the second quarter… and then got ejected a minute later for letting Sixers center Dwight Howard know what we’re not going to do tonight.
Easily the best part of that video is the look on Haslem’s face after being tossed down by Howard; you can see the internal decision-making happen in real time. Dwight probably got off easy.
Assuming Heat coach Erik Spoelstra finds no reason to play Haslem for the team’s last two road games of the regular season — very likely — that should wrap his season up with a stat line we have no choice but to respect:
1 game, 0 starts
3 total minutes
4 total points
100.0% shooting percentage
100.0% ejection percentage
Bless you, bench gawd Udonis Haslem. May you return for Year 19 to scissor-kick Grayson Allen as soon as you enter the game, before immediately retiring at half-court. It would be the greatest moment in professional basketball history.
STICK TO MUSIC
Today was a beautiful day. The vibes were good, my belly was full of Ethiopian food, the sun shone bright, the spring breeze drifted perfectly inside the windows, and a moment like that just calls for music.
I asked my five handsomest friends* for recommendations to fit said vibes, and I’m happy to share a few here.
*If you’re a paying subscriber to The Action Cookbook Newsletter, something I strongly recommend, you can probably tell from today’s roundup ($) which of these albums he recommended. I promise I wrote my little blurb before I knew about his.
If you were already familiar with Cory Hanson or his acid-rock band Wand prior to his April album Pale Horse Rider, congrats for being a few steps ahead of me. It’s a lush, reverberating, beautiful album with something seriously off-kilter flowing underneath the surface. It’s like Neil Young and The War on Drugs had a music-baby and fed it mescaline. Or maybe Father John Misty goes to Burning Man. Either way, obviously I love it.
If you’re digging the aesthetics of that music video, are you ever in luck: Hanson also has a truly bonkers YouTube series, released in conjunction with the album, called Limited Hangout. I do not have the requisite psychoactive substances to make it make sense.
What’s your current vibe music? Tell me, before I make it to my “end of 2021” list on Spotify and Tame Impala and the Beastie Boys are at the top of the list for the umpteenth straight year. That’s a knock on me, not those bands.
Speaking of horses — long known as my favorite animal — substantially more prominent on the national radar is Bonny Light Horseman, a recent folk supergroup who counts among its members Anaïs Mitchell (Grammy and Tony winner for Hadestown), Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats) and Josh Kaufman (too many great collaborations to count). The trio released an eponymous album in January 2020, or approximately fifty-seven years ago, and I regret to report that I am just now getting to it. And hot damn.
“Lush” comes to mind as a descriptor here as well, even as the instrumental sound is stripped a bit down compared to Pale Horse Rider. It’s still mixed beautifully, and the vocals play so well together you’d swear these three had known each other since grade school.
Finally, today marks 34 years, 3 months and 9 days since the release of Fleetwood Mac’s classic album Rumours. That is not a specifically remarkable amount of time in any way, nor was this something any of my friends recommended. But come on, what are you going to do, not listen to Rumours? The Onion had it right.
STICK TO AFFIRMATIONS
Thanks for joining me today. We’ll always end on a kind word.
Everyone deserves to live well, especially you. So, what have you done for yourself lately? Maybe it’s new clothes, maybe an investment in a personal hobby, or maybe something as simple as a long bath or an extra hour of sleep. No matter what, remember that you owe yourself something positive every now and then. Everyone deserves that, and that includes you! Choose self-care over destructiveness, obviously, because you’re worth that too. But enjoy it. Appreciate in particular that it’s something you’re doing for yourself, because you deserve it. That’s all.
(And don’t underestimate the sleep.)
Current vibe is American Aquarium's recently-released Slappers, Bangers, & Certified Twangers which is a collection of 90's country covers. It is amazing and takes you right back to listening to those songs in my parent's cars on the way to Little League.