“People think that because you live in Florida, you just agree with the [expletive]. They were not.”
Udonis Haslem is Miami’s quiet rock, as he has been for 20 years, but the Heat forward is ready to shout that Ron DeSantis is ruining Florida’s reputation with culture wars and book bans.
Haslem was asked before Game 2 of the NBA Finals what it’s like to be a Florida native in the current political and social climate. Speaking to the Boston Globe, Haslem wanted to make it clear that not all Floridians are behind DeSantis’s platform.
“Well, first of all, I’m going to ask people to stop shaming us in Florida. Not everyone agrees with what is happening in Florida. People think that because you live in Florida, you just agree with the [expletive]. They were not. I do not agree with that. I’m not happy about that.”
DeSantis has turned his governorship into a personal platform for a presidential run, using increasingly oppressive and authoritarian mandates to woo voters from the vilest corners of society, regardless of what it means for Florida. Since he was elected in 2019, DeSantis’ “wins” include:
- The “Don’t Say Gay” law, which prohibits any discussion of sexuality or gender identity in classrooms.
- Asylum seekers charter flights from San Antonio, Texas (where he is not governor) to Martha’s Vineyard to earn right-wing points.
- He passed anti-abortion legislation in the state, despite the fact that a significant majority of citizens are against the law.
- It allowed the concealed carry of firearms and the expansion of Florida’s “stand your ground” laws to include shooting suspected looters.
- Approved restrictions to limit voting rights.
- He fell out with Disney and now he’s being sued.
- Support book bans that have removed over 500 books from school and public libraries.
- Had the Florida law that required him to resign as governor while running for president changed, presumably to prevent him from losing the 2024 Republican nomination to Donald Trump?
Up to this point, Haslem has been quiet about politics, but with the situation in Florida worsening, he has decided it’s time to speak up.
“I live there and I was born there. It’s not my fault. So please stop embarrassing the people of Florida. We are not happy with what this man [DeSantis] is doing. diversity and inclusion and take the [books away]. We are not happy with that. I sit at home on the couch with my wife and raise hell.”
In addition to opposing DeSantis’ war on diversity, equity and inclusion, Haslem questions why the priority after the Parkland High School shooting is to put more guns in the hands of Floridians.
“You complain about what is taught in school but we took your gun away [law] where can you buy a [expletive] assault rifle at 18,” Haslem said. “I am confused about what the priorities are. We’re talking about education, and in the midst of all this gun violence that’s going on all over the world, how about we just eliminate gun laws and make it easier for them to get guns? He [expletive] It confuses me, that’s why I’m not a politician.”
Haslem admits he can’t be a meaningful change agent, yet he’s doing everything he can to encourage people to vote. In 2022, when DeSantis was re-elected governor, only 46 percent of registered Miami voters participated in the general election.
“It’s very disappointing and I’m a father of three, three black men. Three kids 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 is out of my control. All I can do is get off my ass and vote. That’s what I’ll do. I will continue to encourage everyone around me. That’s all I can do.”
The Heat forward isn’t just offering empty words. In recent years he has been quietly instrumental in improving the lives of Miami’s most vulnerable citizens. Haslem has partnered with mental health and drug rehabilitation centers in the city, and has assisted organizations seeking to provide affordable housing.