Haslem still a vital part of Heat master plan

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He didn’t reach into his wallet for a picture of Benjamin Franklin, though. Instead, he went to his bank and withdrew 10,000 pennies, putting them in a shoebox.

“I handed it to him personally,” Haslem said.

It wasn’t a surprise that Haslem kept his captaincy, even after being cited for marijuana possession _ the charges were dropped _ this summer. The Heat say he’s their toughest guy, and even James says Haslem and Wade deserve the role.

“These guys are the only two standing from the (2006 Heat) championship team, from D-Wade’s and U.D.’s rookie year,” James said. “It’s not about what they’ve done on the court. It’s about what they’ll continue to do on and off the court and what they mean to this franchise, so I’m all for it.”

Here’s the truest indicator of what Haslem means to the Heat: Not only is he considered a bargain with an average salary of $4 million a season for the next five years, he’s a leader without even starting.

Haslem gave up his spot to Michael Beasley last season, and instead of pouting, took the forward under his wing. Beasley’s in Minnesota now, and now Bosh takes over as Miami’s power forward.

By year’s end, however, no one would be surprised if Haslem is among the team leaders in minutes. He’ll play a ton, as always. And as he told teammates Monday, his mother will be watching.

“I definitely didn’t want to lose her,” Haslem said. “But I’m at peace, because she can rest now.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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