Haslem played through injury, needs knee surgery

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm •  Published: June 29, 2013
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"I expected everybody that had the opportunity to come back to make the choice to come back," Haslem said. "Hopefully everything will work out with Bird and we'll have him back again at it as well. I have no idea what he'll do, but he fit in great with us. He was what we needed in that role. To me, it's almost a no-brainer."

Haslem was on the 2006-07 Heat team that came back virtually intact after winning a title, and remembers how many issues plagued that team, starting with several veterans showing up for training camp out of shape.

With it now virtually certain that next season's Heat team will be pretty close to the one that beat San Antonio in seven games for this season's championship, Haslem is sure that the same issues won't be a problem again.

"Everybody will be in shape," Haslem said. "Me and D-Wade learned that the hard way. And LeBron sets the standard so high, man, everybody's got to keep up with him so nobody wants to come back out of shape."

Haslem signed hundreds of autographs for 90 minutes, then scribbled his name on many more items thrust toward him by people still waiting in line when his appearance Saturday was completed. Many of those on line at a Sports Authority store wore shirts and jerseys with Haslem's name on the back, which he still finds mindboggling.

He left $14 million on the negotiating table three summers ago just so he could remain with the Heat and not go elsewhere as a free agent.

"It's amazing," Haslem said. "It's amazing. You start to think that people are used to you and they don't appreciate you anymore, but every time they get an opportunity they come out and show me love. There's a lot of support and that's what it's all about. That's why I stayed here."