Pro Athletes Love Florida — and Here’s Why

Famous athletes from many different sports make their homes in central and southern Florida. Golf legend Tiger Woods, Miami Heat forward LeBron James, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson are a few athletes that call the “Sunshine State” home. From Orlando to Miami Beach and Jupiter, Floridians find themselves living next door to the country’s greatest sports heroes. Just as sportsbooks bonuses entice sports fans to ante up, Florida’s many bonuses draw professional athletes to bet on life near the state’s beaches and byways.

How the Pros’ Love Affair With Florida Began

Golf legend Arnold Palmer used to be followed around the course by groupies who called themselves “Arnie’s Army.” In 1976, instead of leading his fans toward the 18th hole, Palmer led a tide of athletes toward Florida. Arnie settled in Orlando after he and a group of investors leased Bay Hill with an option to buy it. Palmer fell in love with Orlando back in 1965, when he visited the state as part of Wake Forest’s golf team. By the mid-1990s, baseball legend Ken Griffey, Jr., had settled in Windermere. Griffey counted both Shaquille O’Neal and Miami Dolphins tight end Eric Green among his neighbors. Former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz built a house near Lake Nona.

According to Palmer, athletes saw him move to central Florida and thought he “must have had some sort of scoop.” The pro athlete invasion didn’t stop in Orlando. Alex Rodriguez, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh moved to Miami Beach. LeBron James moved to Coconut Grove, while Michael Jordan, Bill Parcells and Tiger Woods settled in Jupiter.

Florida’s Tax Advantages

Pro athletes pay taxes in nearly every city their teams play in. In fact, pro athletes often pay what accountants call “the jock tax” in 10 to 30 jurisdictions every year. In addition to the jock tax, players pay income taxes on their salaries in the cities where their teams are based in. To make things even more complicated, they pay taxes on income from dividends, interest, endorsements and personal appearances in the cities they live in.

Athletes who live in Florida pay no income tax on endorsements and personal appearances. In fact, when LeBron James chose to play for the Miami Heat in 2010, taxes may have factored into his decision. If he’d chosen the New York Knicks, then he would have lost 10 percent of his salary to taxes. By choosing Florida, LeBron got to keep all that he earned from his contract.

Attractive Real Estate Prices

Another draw for pro athletes is Florida’s affordable real estate market. After the 2008 recession, Tampa and Orlando both made Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of the Top 10 Cheapest U.S. Housing Markets. A mansion that would cost millions in California, for example, costs a few hundred thousand dollars in Florida. Cities that offer attractive real estate deals also absorb athlete income when the pros pay for furniture, vehicles, landscaping, housekeeping, entertainment and utilities.

Recreation

For many pro athletes, Florida is a good place to raise a family. Pros who live in Orlando live near Disney, Cape Canaveral, Pleasure Island and other kid-friendly attractions. In South Florida, families can enjoy year-round access to the beach. In many cases, towns like Orlando have just enough nightlife — but not too much — to make the area both fun and family-oriented.

Additionally, many pro athletes enjoy playing golf, and Florida has some of the country’s best courses. Many baseball players whose teams conduct spring training in Florida often book their tee times around their practice schedules. An athlete living in Jupiter, for example, has year-round access to The Bear’s Club and The Dye Preserve.

Last, but Not Least: Great Weather

Retired baseball pitcher Frank Viola, a longtime resident of Sweetwater, doesn’t dig out a snowblower in the winter. Instead, he digs out his golf clubs and heads to one of central Florida’s many golf courses. “Two or three cold snaps and that’s your winter,” he told The Orlando Sentinel. “Who wants to clean up your driveway and garage all the time?”

About the Author: Greg Perry is a freelance sports writer and avid sports bettor who lives in southern Florida.

  

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Heat versus Spurs in NBA Finals

While the San Antonio Spurs cruised through the Western Conference Finals against Memphis, the Miami Heat had everything they could handle against the size and youth of the Indiana Pacers. Naturally, throughout that seven-game marathon, the storyline seemed to change over and over again. We had the inevitable drama as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took some heat for their play, but as usual (since their choke job two years ago against Dallas), the Heat delivered in crunch time. So now we have a pretty evenly matched NBA Finals, and serious betters will be doing a ton of research and then checking out online gambling site reviews to make their picks and get the latest and best odds, though in the end this one really comes down to your gut.

We have one dynasty led by Tim Duncan, and one potential dynasty led by Lebron James. With Duncan, he’s basically ceded the leadership of the team to Tony Parker, and their “Big Three” with Manu Ginobili have more to do with legacy. The Spurs are a deep team, with these veterans supported by some excellent young talent. The professionalism and experience of the Spurs sets them apart from some of the other teams the Heat have played, so many think they have a shot here.

In Miami, Lebron was ridiculed for being “Robin” to Wade’s “Batman” several years ago, and while we can all mock him for pairing up with superstars to win, there’s no doubt today that he has emerged as the leader of this team, as he matured quite a bit after the humiliation of the Dallas series. Meanwhile, the inconsistency of Wade and Bosh has to worry Heat fans, though like I said earlier, they always seem to rise up. Lebron also has revenge on his mind, so the motivation is definitely there against the Spurs.

So sit back and enjoy what should be a great series.

  

Johnathan Gray wins Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Award

We were in Hollywood last night to attend the 2012 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year award ceremony. Johnathan Gray, a football player from Aledo High School in Texas, and Breanna Stewart, a basketball player from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in New York, both won the 2012 Athlete of the Year honors from among this impressive group of high school athletes:

GIRLS
Jordan Burgess – Volleyball
Molly Seidel – Cross Country
Breanna Stewart – Basketball
Morgan Andrews – Soccer
Geri Ann Glasco – Softball
Shelbi Vaughan – Track & Field

BOYS
Johnathan Gray – Football
Futsum Zeinasellassie – Cross Country
Jabari Parker – Basketball
Ema Boateng – Soccer
Lance McCullers Jr. – Baseball
Abraham Hall – Track & Field

You’ll be seeing many of these kids in the years to come on SportsCenter. Johnathan Gray is an amazing running back who will be playing for the Texas Longhorns this coming season. In his senior season of high school, he rushed for 3,891 yards on 346 attempts for a rushing average of 11.2 yards per carry. Even more impressively, he rushed for 65 touchdowns!! Needless to say the Texas running game will be getting a nice boost for the next several years.

Breanna Stewart is a 6′ 4″ basketball player who will join the parade of amazing players Geno Auriemma assembles from year to year at UConn. She has also played on the USA Basketball teams for three years, helping each team win a Gold Medal.

All of the kids were very impressive, but Jabari Parker also jumps out as a kid to watch. He was only a junior in high school last season so it’s highly likely Gatorade will be bringing him back again next year. Right now he’s the #1 recruit in the country according to most scouting services and every college basketball powerhouse is drooling at the opportunity to bring in this 6′ 8″ talent. Many are calling him the best young talent since LeBron James.

We had the opportunity to speak with all three players and they all came across as great kids. Each of them emphasized the need to keep working hard to improve their games at the next level. I asked Johnathan Gray about some of the running backs he looked up to, and he mentioned LeSean McCoy, LaDainian Tomlinson, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson. I also asked him about his patience running behind a great offensive line, and Jonathan responded with a great line, saying that running backs should be “slow to it, fast through it” when waiting for the hole to open up.

Check back as we’ll be posting our interviews with Jabari Parker and Breanna Stewart as well.

The award show was also very entertaining, with ESPN’s Stewart Scott hosting the show that included some great presenters, including Robert Griffin III, Alonzo Mourning, Landon Donovan, Lisa Leslie and Brandi Chastian among other notable athletes. Mourning is a former winner of the award, which has prestigious names like Derek Jeter, Lebron James and Peyton Manning among the many winners since 1985. Mourning stressed education in his remarks and in our interview with him afterwards. The beauty of this award is that it takes more than just athletic accomplishments into account. All of these kids excel in the classroom as well.

Along with Zo, we were able to interview Landon Donovan as well and had him size up the state of Team USA as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and we sat in with an interview session with RG3 as well. Check back as we’ll also be posting these interviews.

It was a great evening as we caught a preview of some of the athletes who will likely be dominating the sports headlines in the years to come.

  

The second half of the NBA season should be interesting

New York Knicks Jeremy Lin stands on the court in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden in New York City on February 22, 2012. UPI/John Angelillo

It’s been a crazy NBA season, but we really shouldn’t be surprised. With little preparation after the chaotic NBA lockout, few people expected solid play around the league. But coming off of last night’s All-Star Game, there are plenty of storylines for the second half of the season.

The Miami Heat are certainly getting plenty of attention. Despite his errant pass last night that ultimately decided the game, LeBron James is having another monster season. Naturally, the pundits who are only capable of living in the moment have made their proclamations of how LeBron James is again proving he’s the best player in the NBA, yet the rest of us know that regular season stats mean nothing. In the end, James needs to prove that he can perform when an NBA title is on the line. Plain and simple, he choked last year, and nothing will help him overcome that until he actually contributes to an NBA championship.

The biggest story, of course, has been Jeremy Lin. The NBA betting lines regarding the New York Knicks have been all over the place, as this team started by underachieving, and the Lin came along and sparked a remarkable winning streak. That said, Lin was exposed a little against Miami as he really needs to work on his defense, but he’s still an amazing story and has real talent.

Lin might not be the best new talent in the league, however, as Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving has been dazzling onlookers all year long and then put on a show during All-Star weekend.

Then we have all the possible trades, as the make-up of many teams will hinge on what happens with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

In the end, this all might come down to a battle of superstars again in the Finals, as Kevin Durant seems poised to stake his claim as one of the NBA great.

It should be fun to watch.

  

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