Over the weekend, the Miami Heat's pursuit of Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward got personal — not for the Heat or Hayward, but for the cities involved in the chase for his services. Hayward reportedly has the Boston Celtics, Utah Jazz, and Miami Heat at the top of his list. One of those cities is definitely not like the other two. If you're from Miami, these obvious cultural differences are a good thing. If you're a knucklehead sports journalist from Utah or Massachusetts, they're evidently not so great.
During every free-agency period, false rumors swirl and misinformation abounds — often spread by agents trying to improve their leverage when millions of dollars are at stake. That's normal.
What isn't normal are the ridiculous and even racist comments by writers in Boston and Salt Lake City about why Hayward supposedly would never want to live in Miami. Because what those basketball scribes have actually been arguing is that there's no way a white guy who has spent the past couple of years in Salt Lake City could possibly want any part of life in the capital of Latin America.
The firestorm was set off Wednesday by a tweet from Adam Kaufman, a morning-drive sports anchor for a Boston radio station. In his report, he claims to "hear" Hayward's personality wouldn't mesh well with Miami because he isn't a party animal. OK, then!
This report makes no sense for so many reasons. Heat players are not obligated to live in South Beach. In fact, most South Florida athletes choose to live in Broward. Trust us — the party is not in Weston.
Does every Celtics player live in Boston? Or do some live in "
Also, think about all the professional athletes who have been arrested over the past few years for drugs or nightclub shenanigans. Now think about all the players who have succumbed to substance abuse. Now look down the list of teams for which those guys played. Are Miami athletes on that list any more frequently than any other city? For every Dion Jordan, there is a Josh Gordon. The narrative that Miami is a "party town" is stuck in the '80s with the film Scarface — despite what impression you might get from watching Ballers every week. For every person partying on Washington Avenue, there are tens of thousands of Miamians working their asses off just to get by.
The next stop on the bad-Miami-take-train was Ben Dowsett, an editor for the website Basketball Insiders, based in — wait for it — Utah. Dowsett's since-deleted tweet about Hayward's choice skipped all the beating-around-the-bush and flew as close as possible to the racist sun without crashing into it.
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Huh. Whatever could Mr. Dowsett be referring to?
That take sure reads like a knock on Miami's diversity, because his argument certainly doesn't have anything to do with mountains and snow versus palm trees and the beach. People flooded Dowsett's mentions to find out what exactly he meant, and Dowsett fired off a slew of now-deleted replies that did little to squash the idea that he was suggesting the mostly white folks of Utah just love their families a bit more than the multicultural mix of Miamians love theirs.
Hayward could certainly choose Massachusetts or Utah. If he does, it'll be because he wants to play with his old college coach again or because he thinks either of those teams is closer than the Heat to making a title run.
It won't be because of ignorant hot-take writers who believe Miami couldn't possibly be a beautiful slice of paradise and a great place to call home with a family.