The most special moments in sports are when the games and what's real intersect. When we get to glimpse beyond our athletes' talent and skill and feel the heart beating underneath all of that outward bravado and strength.

These guys bleed and hurt just like us, but we would rather not hear it. That's why it became something close to a national scandal earlier this Heat season when coach Erik Spoelstra said some of his players were crying following a particularly difficult loss.

We want toughness, not emotion, not vulnerability.

Sometimes, though, when we get all that, all at once, it can be a magical thing. It is transcendent. It gives sports a good name.

Udonis Haslem might have saved the Heat's season Wednesday night, but it was more than that.

His 13 points and five rebounds (plus a steal and a block) were instrumentally well-timed in Miami's victory in Chicago that evened the NBA Eastern Conference finals at a game apiece, but the statistics sheet could not begin to describe his contribution.

Not even those two fire-starting dunks that lifted fans off their chairs back in South Florida were why Spoelstra afterward called Haslem "an absolute championship warrior." Or why Dwyane Wade called him "our heartbeat."

Haslem, playing his first significant minutes since a November foot injury swallowed his season whole, inspired the Heat in every sense because his teammates know what their brother went through. They know what Wednesday meant to him.

After the national anthem finished playing at United Center, players from both teams dispersed to their respective pregame huddles. Except Haslem. He stood on the court by himself for a long time, head bowed.

I doubt he even heard the raucous din around him.