Heat player criticizes DeSantis, but says people shouldn't 'Florida shame' residents
(The Hill) – Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem called out Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for policies that target the Black and LGBTQ communities in the state, but said people shouldn’t shame state residents for the governor’s politics.
“I happen to live there and I was born there. It’s not my fault,” Haslem, en elder statesman on the Heat who is retiring as a player at the end of the NBA Finals, told the Boston Globe on Saturday.
“So please stop Florida-shaming us people. We’re not happy about what this man [DeSantis] is doing,” Haslem said. “Diversity and inclusion and taking the [books away]. We’re not happy about that. I sit at home on the couch with my wife and raise hell.”
Haslem has played with the Heat throughout his long career, serving on championship teams first with Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal, and then Wade and LeBron James.
He said he’s confused about the policies in his state, expressing disappointment at school policies that will affect his three sons, and criticizing the state on its gun policies.
“You complain about what’s being taught in school but we took away the gun [law] where you can buy a [expletive] assault rifle at 18,” the 43-year-old league veteran added. “I’m confused about what’s the priorities. We’re talking education and in the midst of all of this gun violence going on around the world, how about we just drop the gun laws and make it easier for them to get guns? The [expletive] is confusing to me, that’s why I’m not a politician.”
“All I can do is get my ass up and vote. That’s what I’m going to do,” Haslem said, the Globe reported. “I’m going to continue to encourage everybody around me. That’s all I can do.”
Haslem is the second current or former Heat player to express their displeasure with its state legislatures’ recent laws and policies.
NBA legend Dwyane Wade said earlier this year that his family had to move from Florida due to the recent wave of anti-LGBTQ laws being passed, saying his family “would not be accepted” there.
“A lot of people don’t know that. I have to make decisions for my family, not just personal, individual decisions,” Wade, who is the father of to 16-year-old Zaya Wade. The younger Wade came out as transgender in 2020.
In January, DeSantis’s administration rejected an Advanced Placement African American Studies course, saying the content “significantly lacks educational value.” DeSantis, who announced his 2024 presidential campaign last month, also signed last year the Parental Rights in Education, dubbed by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, banning classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity for certain grades.
The NAACP last month issued a formal travel advisory for Florida on Saturday, saying the state has become “hostile to Black Americans” under DeSantis’ leadership.