Ron “Don’t Say Gay” DeSantis may be Florida’s governor, but one prominent member of the Miami Heat wants people to know that he doesn’t speak for all Floridians.
Forward Udonis Haslem, who’s from Miami and played all 20 seasons of his career with the Heat, spoke to the Boston Globe recently about his disagreements with DeSantis’ far-right ideology.
“Well first and foremost I’m going to ask people out there to stop Florida-shaming us,” he said. “Everybody ain’t down with what’s going on in Florida. People think that because you live in Florida, like you just down with the [expletive]. We’re not. I’m not down with it. I’m not happy about it.”
Those are strong words from a beloved basketball player, especially considering the timing. The Heat are in the NBA Finals; and usually, athletes don’t comment about social or political issues when a championship is at stake. (The series between the Heat and Denver Nuggets is tied 1-1.)
But Haslem feels strongly enough about DeSantis to make an exception.
The attention-seeking politician has waded into every layer of the culture wars over the last two years, beginning with the state’s noxious “Don’t Say Gay” legislation, which bans discussion of sexual orientation and gender ideology in all grade levels.
When Disney criticized the law, DeSantis went to war with his state’s largest tourism attraction, trying to strip the company of its self-governing privileges around Disney World. Disney sued DeSantis in April, saying the governor was extracting political revenge.
But those bad deadlines haven’t stopped DeSantis. He’s supported a large swath of legislation that targets LGBTQ+ people, including laws that outlaw gender-affirming care for minors and make it a criminal offense if adults don’t use the bathroom that corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth. Florida also has a new anti-drag law that bars minors from attending drag shows with “lewd” performances.
In addition, DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban, and attached his signature to bills that prohibit colleges from using state funding on diversity and inclusion programs, and ban critical race theory from being taught in schools. More than 500 books have been banned in Florida public schools since 2021, according to the Globe.
Haslem isn’t happy with any of it.
“I happen to live there and I was born there. It’s not my fault. So please stop Florida-shaming us people,” he said. “We’re not happy about what this man is doing. 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 4 governor
— sum_dude44 (@sum_dude44) June 4, 2023
Good for him. Great job. That’s awesome. He’s 100% right. I hope it can get better for all people there at some point soon.
— Jason Someone (@JasonSSomething) June 5, 2023
As a Floridian born and raised, I agree with UD! thanks for speaking on it
— CRB (@courtroxie13) June 4, 2023
As the Heat’s longest-tenured player, and NBA champion, Haslem’s words carry weight in the locker room. Though he’s played sparingly over the last few seasons, he remains an important part of Miami’s winning culture.
Last summer, Haslem announced his intentions to retire following the 2022-23 campaign. He scored 24 points in his final regular-season affair, becoming the second 42 year old in league history to tally 24 or more points in a single contest.
In other words, he’s enjoying a better spring than DeSantis, who officially launched his presidential campaign two weeks ago in disastrous fashion. DeSantis participated in a glitchy “Twitter Spaces” with loathsome billionaire Elon Musk, and didn’t speak for the first 25 minutes.
Haslem says he’s concerned for his kids’ futures in the Sunshine State.
“It’s very disappointing and I’m the father of three, three Black men,” he said. “Three boys that are coming up and I would love for them to learn in school about what the hell is really going on and what happened. But that’s out of my control. All I can do is get my ass up and vote. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to continue to encourage everybody around me. That’s all I can do.”
Haslem should be commended for using his substantial platform to speak out against the injustices being carried out in his home state. What an admirable final act to a great career.
Scroll down for more reaction to Haslem’s strong stand…
Thank you @ThisIsUD. As a physician whenever I go to national meetings my colleagues make comments about me living in Florida. This is the perfect answer!
— David Goldberg, MD, MSCE (@DrLiver) June 4, 2023
Haslem for Senate 2024
— Garsh (@JLGarsh) June 4, 2023
As a Floridian & member of #HeatNation I appreciate UD taking the time to speak about the political situation in our home state. We need to address gun violence & other issues harming our quality of life. FL shaming doesn’t help anyone, we must stand in solidarity with each other https://t.co/i6mdPA7aG2
— Ryan Deitsch (@Ryan_Deitsch) June 4, 2023
— Guy Cecil (@guycecil) June 4, 2023
Udonis Haslem is a hero and ? correct. Florida is a dumpster fire. https://t.co/vQY5hSgfx5
— Andrew Abramson (@AbramsonFL) June 4, 2023
Hey, he’s the Captain of the whole state now. https://t.co/6kvDxIROM6
— #DoomSayer (@MrBill11) June 4, 2023