Heat Fans Push for Papi Le Batard to Represent Team at NBA Draft

Let's hope Micky Arison paid close attention to the Miami Heat Twitter feed this weekend instead of watching the playoffs that his team is frozen out of for the first time in four years. Because with the NBA draft looming as the Heat's biggest moment in 2015, an extremely important movement has been gaining momentum online since late last week: #PapiToTheLottery.

Before you laugh off the idea of Dan LeBatard's irascible old man as the Heat's official rep at the big event in NYC, there are some compelling reasons for Arison to pay attention. 

The idea to send Papi to the lottery began last week on local sports radio and instantly became a trending topic on Twitter. The vast majority of Heat fans are in favor of this idea, which might raise the question: Why do so many people care about whom the Heat send to this event?

Well, Miami Heat fans are a different bunch. Over the past few years, Heat fans have gone from an afterthought to a lightning rod for criticism to the butt of many jokes — and they have taken it all in stride. Heat fans, more often than not, did so by having a sense of humor about things. Miami gets a bad rap at times because it's so different from the rest of the nation, and that's the way Miamians like it. New York has Ryan Seacrest hosting its New Year's Eve party every year; this year Pitbull hosted ours — because we are unapologetically not everyone else. 

Papi is our Ryan Seacrest. Please send our Ryan Seacrest to this year's NBA lottery. 

Would sending Papi to the draft be in line with the Heat's morals? It could be argued this wouldn't be the classiest thing to do. Wrong. What would send a better message than letting one of your team's most diehard supporters, one who already represents ESPN on a daily basis, bring some Miami-style humor and uniqueness to this event? When people see Papi on ESPN or hear his voice on his son's radio show, they instantly think Miami. 

Dan LeBatard and his dad are the Magic City's Kardashians. Please send our Kardashians to this year's NBA lottery event. 

Besides, this wouldn't be the first time a team has had some fun with its draft rep. A few years ago, the Nets sent Jay Z to represent them. Other teams have trotted out people they believed to be lucky charms — sisters, sons, mothers, daughters, contest-winning fans, you name it. Miami Heat Nation believes Papi LeBatard is our rabbit's foot. Papi is our lucky cigar waiting to be smoked. And the Heat franchise obviously believes in lucky charms, because this time of year we normally all wear white and listen to Julia Dale sing the National Anthem.  

The next couple months will be superweird for every basketball fan in Miami. None of us expected to be talking about who would represent the team at the draft lottery, but hey, that's life. Let's have some fun, not take ourselves too seriously, and smile a little before it's time to prove yet again why the Miami Heat is the best organization in sports. 

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Ryan Yousefi is a freelance writer for Miami New Times, a lover of sports, and an expert consumer of craft beer and pho. Hanley Ramirez once stole a baseball from him and to this day still owes him $10.
Contact: Ryan Yousefi