A decade ago, a pair of buddies at the University of Florida had NBA dreams

NBA officials, though, weren't dreaming much about them.

Forward Udonis Haslem wasn’t even taken in the 2002 draft. He had to play in France in 2002-03.

Forward Matt Bonner, a year behind Haslem at Florida, was selected in the 2003 draft but was with just the 45th overall pick in the second round. Bonner went to play in Italy for a year.

But here they are now facing off in the NBA Finals, Haslem for the Miami Heat and Bonner for the San Antonio Spurs. Both are going for another championship ring, Haslem already having won titles with the Heat in 2006 and 2012 and Bonner having been fitted for a ring with the Spurs in 2007.

“Obviously, we had to work,’’ said Haslem, whose Heat lost to the Spurs 92-88 in Thursday’s Game 1. “Nothing was given to us. We were probably those guys that could have gone either way. It could have been a lot different, but we both had to find our niche and we both had to work to stay here.’’

Haslem, who broke into the NBA with Miami in 2003, found his niche with rebounding and toughness, and this season became the leading board man in Heat history. Bonner, who made Toronto’s roster in 2004 before being traded to the Spurs in 2006, found his for being a 6-foot-10 guy who can step out and hit a 3-pointer.

“We both played all four years in college and we played a year overseas before we got to make it in the NBA,’’ Bonner said. “I think when you take that path, it definitely makes you appreciate everything you have in the NBA. You take nothing for granted. You have to work for every inch.’’

While at Florida, Haslem and Bonner helped the Gators to the 2000 NCAA title game. There’s another player from that team in these Finals in Heat guard Mike Miller. But Miller’s situation is different, considering he played just two years at Florida before being the No. 5 pick in the NBA draft and being named Rookie of the Year.