For the past five years, the seventh-year power forward and team co-captain has called Broward home, first Davie and now Southwest Ranches.

"I like to fish. I like a lot of land. I like dogs and the different lifestyle," he says, with the Heat coming off Friday's home playoff opener against the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena. "So out here is where I can get most of that stuff, as opposed to living in Miami.

Udonis Haslem wrestles with his 3-year-old son, Josiah, in front of their Southwest Ranches home. "I like the country lifestyle," he says. (Photo: Omar Vega)

"I used to look at Keyon and Eddie and wonder how they could do it, and then I moved and it's overrated, the drive. By the time I listen to the Rickey Smiley morning show and make two or three phone calls, I'm at the arena."

Haslem lives with his girlfriend, Faith, and Josiah. Kedonis also is a frequent visitor to this 31/2-acre spread, which he purchased in 2007 for $3.2 million, according to Broward County Property Appraiser records.

"He likes to fish," Haslem says of his older son, "so me and him do a lot of fishing together."

Teammate Dwyane Wade, who has moved closer to downtown Miami during his seven seasons with the team after initially residing in Pinecrest in suburban Miami-Dade, appreciates Haslem's northern exposure.

"I didn't know how he did it, playing here, where you're born and raised, all your family's here. I'm sure it's tough," Wade says. "You need a place to get away from everything, get away from this NBA lifestyle.

"U.D., he's the kind of person who wants land and wants his space, and he's got it out there. I understand totally."

So does teammate James Jones, who was raised in Miami Lakes and played at the University of Miami. He currently is renting in Weston as his home in Southwest Ranches is being refurbished.

"For me and the family, we wanted some space," Jones says. "Where I'm at now, there's ample space, homes on acre lots, at least. So it gives me a chance to be a professional, visible athlete during the day and then just the quiet country dad at night."

Born and raised in Miami-Dade, Jones particularly appreciates Haslem's new road less traveled.

"Miami is a magical place, it's a city that never sleeps, there's non-stop action," he says. "You need a break, you need a vacation, sometimes. And when you play a season like we do, eight months, if you can have a short vacation or mini-vacation every day when you go home, it's probably best for you in the long run."

During a recent game in Minnesota, the Heat's younger players, still drawn to the allure of South Beach and the after-hours clubs in downtown Miami, mocked Jones, 29, and Haslem, 29, for conceding to suburbia.

"At one point, when I was younger," Jones says, "I would have felt the same way, because you want to be where the action is. But as you get older, you have a family, you become a veteran, you realize that you have to strike a balance, and if you don't have that balance, your career might not last that long."

So, like Haslem and other Heat players before him that means a 40-minute trip northwest – time spent unwinding after games.

"It gives me a chance to mellow out," Jones says. "This is a high-stress business. And if I lived right across the street, I'd probably bring some of this anxiety, some of this stress, home to the wife and the kids."

The following morning, it's time to head back the other way, for practice or a game-day shootaround.

"You get in a routine of waking up at 7:15 and you're out of the house about 7:45 and you're on the road," Haslem says. "You've got to make sure you get your rest. It definitely keeps me off South Beach, I'll tell you that."

Already Haslem has had teammate Daequan Cook out to his spread. But it's about more than that for suburban U.D. Mr. 3-0-5 is now trying to recruit locker-room neighbors to be his neighbors in the 9-5-4. "I've tried to encourage some guys to move out here," he says. "Nobody's taken my bait yet."

Rickey Smiley