Erik Spoelstra picks his favorite Miami Heat player

Shandel Richardson

Erik Spoelstra has been around plenty Hall of Fame players during his tenure with the Miami Heat.

They include LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, but none topped his list of favorite to wear a Heat jersey.

That distinction belongs to forward Udonis Haslem.

Spoelstra, speaking on ESPN's "#oneteam Speaker Series," said Haslem's rise from undrafted player to the leading rebounder in franchise history separates him from the rest.

"He’s a Miami Heat hall of famer, and his number will go up in the rafters as soon as he’s done,” Spoelstra said. “And he was the player when we won our championship against Oklahoma City [in 2012], he was the one that dumped the Gatorade bucket on me. And that was Udonis Haslem. And he is Mr. Miami.”

It is unlikely Haslem joins other marquee players who spent time with the Heat in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He is, however, one of the few in league history to spend at least 17 seasons with one team. He trails only Reggie Miller (18 seasons), John Stockton (19), Tim Duncan (19), Kobe Bryant (20) and Dirk Nowitzki (20).

"We've been through everything together," Spoelstra said. "So my first year as an assistant coach was his rookie year. We kind of grew up in this business together. But I love his story. He's from Liberty City, right here in Miami's backyard. And he was able to find a different path. He was not drafted and played four years at Florida, All-American, but had to go overseas to play and had to earn a non-guaranteed contract with us. And 17 short years later, he is our all-time leading rebounder. He's as tough as they come."

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