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Eric Freeman

The Heat bail out Tim Hardaway and his mansion

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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Popular opinion says that the Miami Heat are big fat meanies who only care about themselves, mostly because they have three stars who are either oblivious to public opinion or just don't care about it. But the sins of LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) don't necessarily reflect on the organization, unless you think Pat Riley is evil for trying to win a championship. Which he could be!

If you're the kind of person who doesn't like much of what Miami does and stands for, then the following story should act as a barometer for your level of Heat hate. Former Miami point guard Tim Hardaway, who helped make the franchise legitimate while still in its relative infancy during the mid-'90s, recently ran into trouble with the IRS. Then his old team bailed him out. From The Detroit News:

Hardaway, 44, ran into tax trouble in June despite being paid more than $46.6 million during his NBA career. The IRS filed a tax lien against his property and the bill listed his 7,542-square-foot mansion in suburban Miami.

On Sept. 3, three months after the lien was filed, Hardaway sold the mansion to Miami Heat Limited Partnership, which owns the Miami Heat. [...]

The Heat paid $1.985 million, according to public records. Today, the Heat is trying to sell the five-bedroom, five-and-a-half-bath estate, which comes with a pool and private basketball court decorated with a Miami Heat logo, for $2.5 million.[...] Meanwhile, four months after the sale, Hardaway is still living in the mansion.

Hardaway owed $120,000 to the IRS, which seems like a small amount of money for someone who made tens of millions of dollars over a short-term period. But there's no telling how much of that money Hardaway spent during his career and what kinds of bad deals and investments he made after retirement. Plus, it's not as if Hardaway has an obvious source of income right now -- his disastrous stint as an ESPN commentator ensured that he'd never work in TV again.

Clearly, Hardaway needed help here -- he owed lots of money to the government and had no obvious way of paying it. But should the Heat have helped him out? On the face of it, this choice isn't too surprising. Hardaway made lots of money for the franchise over more than five seasons and, along with Alonzo Mourning(notes), was instrumental in making them more than a mediocre expansion team. The Heat paid him a lot over the years, but he's still one of their own. It's a nice display of loyalty.

On the other hand, Hardaway was given more money than most people can dream of and he fumbled it away. Wouldn't the Heat have been better served helping out some of their most loyal fans who found themselves in tax trouble or were foreclosed upon during the financial crisis?

It's a difficult question that I can't answer here. But your response should tell you a lot about what you think of the Miami Heat beyond their loaded starting lineup.

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