Miami is a city where the famous come to (1) get more famous and (2) be seen. If they wanted alone time and privacy, they'd take a trip to a ranch in Iowa where their cell phone is nothing but a camera, and the ratio of elks to humans is four to one. It's an accepted thing that if you're even a C-list celebrity, visiting South Beach ensures you'll end up on TMZ the next day.
When it comes to Miami sports figures, they lack the wow factor right now. At the moment, our sports teams are missing that player even your mom would recognize in line to get a totally overrated sub sandwich at Publix. Dwyane Wade has retired, and Ryan Tannehill moved to Tennessee. The pickings are slim when it comes to the "I saw _____ at Aventura Mall!" factor.
Let's take a look at the five active Miami pro athletes even your sister who went to fashion school and asks, "How many points is a home run worth?" would be able to point out in public.
1. Udonis Haslem. Miami Heat fans could point out UD in a crowd if he was wearing a full SpongeBob SquarePants costume, and based on longevity alone — the upcoming season will be his 17th with the Heat — Haslem makes the list. It's also hard to miss a six-foot-eight man standing in line at TJ Maxx.
Chances are that nine out of ten people who have lived in South Florida for the past decade have seen UD's face on their TV screen at least once. It's just math. Whether in passing on the 5 o'clock news or during a broadcasted Heat game, the number of times UD has been in our homes makes it likely that everyone you know would recognize him in the wild — or at least ask who he is.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick. The newest Miami Dolphins
backup quarterback will probably draw extra looks in Miami that he wouldn't get in Arkansas. Fitzpatrick and his beard are recognizable. You look at him and remember his face like you would a WWE wrestler you recognize only because your ex-boyfriend once made you watch Monday Night Raw.
Football players are at a disadvantage when it comes to marketing and face recognition because their sport requires they wear a huge life-protecting helmet and face mask. Fitzpatrick isn't the guy likeliest to be asked for an autograph on this list, but for a football player, he's recognizable. Even if Josh Rosen beats Fitzpatrick for the Dolphins starting quarterback job this fall, your grandma would still probably call you to say she saw Fitzpatrick at Golden Corral today.
3. Kenny Stills. He might be a sleeper for not only the most recognizable Miami Dolphins player but also for the most recognizable Miami athlete overall. If you combined his talents on the field (he's the Dolphins' best offensive player and has been for some time), his tireless work in the community, and his tattooed good looks, you'd know Kenny Stills if he stood in front of you in line at the DMV.
Of course, there is another way many people know Stills — from his silent kneeling protests during the National Anthem before games. He is one of the few players in the NFL who still take a knee during America's song in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Stills has done everything the right way, but unfortunately, there is a contingent of Miamians who would recognize and judge him based on this fact alone.
Stills is much more than a football player and arguably the best representative of Miami we have now that Wade has retired. Let's hope Stills and team owner Stephen Ross can peaceably coexist.
4. Justise Winslow. New Heater Jimmy Butler might be the biggest name in town, but Justise Winslow is definitely still the second most recognizable player on the roster after Haslem. Winslow is only 23 but is seemingly going on his tenth season with the Heat (although he's actually entering his fifth year with the team).
Winslow moves from his role as an up-and-coming young player to the veteran on a win-now team this year. He'll be the man next to the man all season long. With Hassan Whiteside gone, Winslow is now the co-face of the Miami Heat alongside Butler.
5. Bam Adebayo. The sleeper on this list, Bam Adebayo has skyrocketed up the list of not only most recognizable Miami athletes but also simply the best. Bam recently received an invite to play with the U.S. Olympic team and held his own before getting cut recently. That experience heightened his name and status in the NBA and got him some publicity that pro ballers don't often see in the dog days of a July off-season unless they're being traded.
With the Dolphins' and Marlins' rosters in flux, Bam will soon be an elder in this market when it comes to longevity. He also has a chance to break out this season and become a much bigger star. For now, though, you'll probably notice him walking through Target.
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