By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has it all: two championship rings, plenty of money, a stunning fiancée, and a courtside seat every night to the greatest show in the NBA. One thing the 39-year-old definitely doesn't need is a lift — from anyone, let alone a public servant paid with tax dollars.
Yet that's exactly what happened this past June 24. Downtown Miami was drenched in the sweat of tens of thousands of Heat fans, but Fizdale, his bride-to-be Natasha Sen, and one of her friends were all comfortably above the fray. They smiled and waved at the delirious plebeians from atop one of the team's three tricked-out tour buses.
When the party was over, however, the buses deposited the Heat back at American Airlines Arena, half a mile from where Fizdale and his fiancée had parked. Quelle horreur! So rather than tough it out with the throngs of fans — many of whom had traveled hours to attend the parade — the celebrity couple snagged a ride with a friendly Miami Police officer.
"Only time I'll ever be in the back seat of a cop car!" Sen wrote next to an Instagram photo showing her decked out in Heat championship swag and designer accessories. "Had to park 5 blocks away from the arena thanks to traffic, so the popo had to drive us back to the car. Lol."
It's not the only example of the Heat getting special treatment from police. In August, LeBron James posted a video of a Miami-Dade cop giving him an emergency ride into oncoming traffic on Biscayne Boulevard — all so the MVP could make a Jay Z and Justin Timberlake concert on time. "They treat us so well!" James wrote. "Needed it 'cause traffic was nuts!!" (The cop was later warned.)
There are many reasons why these free rides rankle ordinary Miamians. First, they waste taxpayer dollars on those who least need them. Second, they distract cops from doing their sworn job to, you know, protect us and stuff.
But the biggest reason these handouts are bogus is that they benefit the Heat: an organization that has been screwing taxpayers for decades. Remember back in the '90s, when the team threatened to move to Broward unless it was given a $38 million plot on Biscayne Bay? County residents also got roped into paying roughly 60 percent of American Airlines Arena's $241 million cost, plus $6.4 million in yearly maintenance.
In return, the Heat was supposed to pay 40 percent of annual arena profits above $14 million back to the county. Although the world champions are now rolling in dough, owner Micky Arison's creative accounting means the Heat has never paid the county a dime.
So New Times sent Miami PD a simple question: Why should taxpayers foot the bill for cops to chauffeur a Heat coach, his fiancée, and her friend around town?
"As you well know, the City of Miami Police Department is not in the business of providing taxi or shuttle service to anyone regardless of social status under ordinary circumstances," Maj. Delrish Moss wrote. "There are times, however, where an extraordinary situation might present itself. The photograph that you have provided us access to does not appear to be one of them."
The incident is now under investigation, Moss said. It's not clear from the photo which police officer was involved. Neither Fizdale nor his fiancée responded to requests for comment.