The Gators (1996, 2006 and 2008), Seminoles (1993 and 1999) and Hurricanes (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2001) have combined for 10 national championships and nearly as many runner-up finishes. Adding in pockets of success by the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars, and there’s plenty of traction for the state’s love affair with football.
Basketball, meanwhile, has always been a distant second even with the Heat and Gators winning titles.
Just not this week.
When Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo called Florida a “basketball state,” it caught former Florida player and current Heat forward Udonis Haslem off guard.
“I just kind of laughed it off,” Haslem said. “But if you think about it right now, it’s a good time to be a basketball fan and a basketball player in the state of Florida. It’s all going really well.”
Realistically, it won’t last.
When the NCAA tournament ends, football in Florida will reclaim its front-and-center spot while basketball fades into the background for another year.
In the meantime, those guys on the hardwood can just enjoy the spotlight.
“I totally understand that football gets seen maybe in a different light with Miami, Florida State and Florida, South Florida,” Donovan said. “But I think the one thing when you look at players that have come out, whether it be Kenny Boynton or Austin Rivers, there’s been terrific players that have come out of this state. A lot of these rosters, whether it be our roster or Florida Gulf Coast or Miami, there’s a lot of Florida kids.”
“I think this is a very, very good state as it relates to basketball at the high school level and I think this state is very fortunate that we have a lot of really, really good high school coaches in the state of Florida.”