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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Column: Who to love, hate and appreciate in the sports world on Valentine’s Day

<p>UF guard Canyon Barry was featured on the jumbotron in the O'Connell Center during Florida's 71-62 win against Texas A&amp;M on Feb. 11, 2017.</p>

UF guard Canyon Barry was featured on the jumbotron in the O'Connell Center during Florida's 71-62 win against Texas A&M on Feb. 11, 2017.

Happy Valentine’s Day, sports fans.

‘Tis the season for holding your loved ones closer, the one time a year when you’re societally obligated to buy flowers, chocolates and post on Instagram about how #thankful and #blessed you are to have your significant other in your life.

Or, if you’re a lonely human with no friends, it’s the one day a year where you’re allowed to hate the world and everyone else around you unequivocally, no questions asked.

Sticking with this Valentine’s Day theme, let’s take a journey around the current sports landscape and discuss who we should fawn over with flowers and heart emojis and who we should hate with all the burning passion of a single person alone at midnight with a tub full of vanilla ice cream.

Or, in simpler terms, who should we love and who should we hate?

Love: The New England Patriots

No matter who you cheered for in the Super Bowl — and God knows I wasn’t rooting for the Patriots — it’s hard not to marvel at the success of the Pats.

Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have won five Super Bowls together — the most all time — all while fighting through at least two widely publicized scandals — Spygate (in which the Patriots were caught secretly recording another team’s coaches during a game) and Deflategate (in which Brady was caught deflating the team’s balls — you probably already know) — and openly feuding with the damn NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell.

More than anything, though, I loved watching Goodell put on a fake smile and uncomfortably announce that the Patriots were Super Bowl champions after they had won, his voice drowned out by the raining chorus of boos echoing throughout NRG Stadium.

The man who had personally spearheaded the investigation into the Patriots’ deflating of footballs, as well as the man who had suspended Brady for the first four games of the season, was reduced to faking compliments about a team and a player who he so desperately and obviously wanted to watch lose.

Ah, good times.

New England still won even through criticism and controversy, and there’s nothing any of us can do or say about it.

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You have to love that.

Hate: The Miami Heat

I am a huge Miami Heat fan. Loved them all my life.

But I’ve had enough of these bozos.

Let me explain.

The Heat let 12-time All-Star, three-time NBA champion and #HeatLifer Dwyane Wade walk away last summer to the Chicago Bulls because they didn’t want to pay him a few more million dollars per year. Then they get ex-Oklahoma City Thunder rotational player and LeBron James’ leftover Dion Waiters in return.

“All right,” I thought to myself, “at least we get to see our young players (2015 draft picks Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson) develop, and the Heat are pretty much guaranteed to earn a high draft pick in 2017 as long as they play poorly.

“I won’t watch this season, we’ll lose a bunch of games, and we’ll get our superstar of the future in the draft.”

But then Winslow got injured. Out for the season.

Then Richardson got injured. He’s missed a bunch of games. I’m too pissed to check how many.

Then, on top of all that, I check the Heat’s schedule the other day and they’ve won 13 straight games.

GUYS.

This was supposed to be a season for tanking, for getting a top-three lottery pick and landing UCLA’s Lonzo Ball or Washington’s Markelle Fultz or someone of that caliber.

Instead, the Heat are a few games out of the East’s final playoff spot with a crappy team full of NBA nomads, half of which will be gone in two years.

And to all you Heat Fans who disagree with me: Congrats. I’m happy that you’re excited the Heat may make the playoffs. Enjoy losing four straight games to Cleveland in the first round and then selecting 16th overall in the NBA Draft.

That’s definitely how you rebuild a team.

But, hey, we can probably agree on one thing: At least we’re not Knicks fans, amirite?

Appreciate: The Gators Basketball PR department (or whoever is in charge of the O’Dome’s jumbotron)

Canyon Barry is a really good college basketball player.

He averages 12.7 points per game (second-most on the team), shoots 43 percent from the field and set Florida’s record for most consecutive made free-throws on Saturday with 39.

He also looks like Cindy Lou Who, a resident of Whoville, from “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

The resemblance is uncanny. In fact, a side-by-side comparison of Barry and Cindy Lou Who was displayed on the O’Connell Center’s jumbotron minutes before Florida defeated Texas A&M on Saturday.

Kudos, Gators PR department. The people needed to know.

Ian Cohen is a sports writer. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at icohen@alligator.org, and follow him on Twitter @icohenb.

UF guard Canyon Barry was featured on the jumbotron in the O'Connell Center during Florida's 71-62 win against Texas A&M on Feb. 11, 2017.

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