The Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem saw videos of insensitive Spring Breakers in his back yard saying things like, “If I get corona, I get corona,” and saw red.
The party must go on? No, Haslem determined, the party must go, period. And it can’t be said often enough that everyone has a role to play in stopping the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Haslem, a 17-year NBA veteran, who is usually an enforcer for his teammates on the court, did the same for Miami.
Haslem says he was so irate that he did something he never does — write a post in The Players’ Tribune directing his anger at snot-nosed, selfish college kids, their typical youthful impetuousness notwithstanding.
He wanted to show them the flip side — his Miami, the neighborhoods where the hardy survivors of another scourge live, places such as Overtown and Liberty City, where poverty leaves residents even more vulnerable to just about everything — climate change, depressed health outcomes, hunger — never mind a pandemic.
Haslem’s anger is actually a compassionate reminder of the difference in how the relatively privileged and the underprivileged deal with all sorts of crises, the coronavirus outbreak being just the latest.
For the poor, there is little hoarding of toilet paper, just in case, because they live day to day. There is no extra cash for such preparations. Call your primary-care physician if you think you have symptoms? No, wait until the symptoms get really bad, then head to the public hospital’s emergency room. Wait for hours in line for coronavirus testing? If you have a car, that’s still a lot of gas to use, and if you have kids now out of school, who’s got time to spend it in a line?
“Man, I’ll tell you one thing for sure. Those kids have never been hungry a day in their life,” Haslem wrote.
“They never had to worry about nothing more serious than a pop quiz. But they’re still coming down here — coming to our state — in the middle of a pandemic — acting like nothing’s going on??
“It’s funny — these kids fly down to places like South Beach for a couple days to party, and they think that’s Miami,” Haslem wrote. “But they’ve never seen the real Miami. They’ve never been to Liberty City. They’ve never seen the side of this city that’s living check to check. The side of this city that’s surviving meal to meal.
“And let me just tell you something, man — there’s a Liberty City in every city. It’s regular people, with regular struggles. And I don’t know how I can get everyone to listen, but I say this from the bottom of my heart: The people growing up in the real Miami? They’re as vulnerable during this crisis as anybody.”
This story was originally published March 25, 2020 7:20 PM.