The Heat fan who gave the bird to a Bull
05/09/2013 4:20 PM
05/09/2013 9:52 PM
It was the bird heard ’round the world.
Filomena Tobias, a Porsche-loving Palm Beach socialite once accused of drowning her wealthy husband, is the rabid middle-finger-flipping Miami Heat fan.
Known as Phyllis to her friends, Tobias apparently got so hot under the halter top at Wednesday night’s Heat game that she jabbed her middle finger in the face of Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who had just been ejected from Game 2 of the Miami Heat’s playoff series vs. the Chicago Bulls.
Like everything else these days, the less-than-demure move was caught on camera — by photographer Steve Mitchell — and the 47-year-old blonde’s finger-flip exploded like a viral bombshell.
The Sun-Sentinel asked its readers if they knew the fan, and it didn’t take long for people to out her — including her daughter, who was slightly embarrassed by the episode.
By noon Thursday, a cutout of the former Catholic schoolgirl’s photograph was being photo-shopped all over the web, showing her giving her famous salute to everyone from President Barack Obama to Bambi’s dead mother.
“We’re humiliated,” Tobias’ daughter, Victoria Racanati, told Jose Lambiet of Gossip Extra, whose column appears in The Miami Herald. Racanati spoke to Lambiet from the family’s $4.4 million-home at The Bears Club in Jupiter.
The daughter told The Sun-Sentinel her mother was far from apologetic. “People need to get a life,’’ she reportedly said.
Tobias lives in a swanky neighborhood in Jupiter, just down the street from basketball legend Michael Jordan.
Her back-story reads like a Jackie Collins novel: Jersey-born secretary, married money, divorced three times, accused by a gay stripper named “Tiger” of kidnapping. She later hired a 300-pound psychic who would claim Tobias had confessed to drugging and drowning her fourth husband, CNBC commentator Seth Tobias.
Tobias, a Wall Street hedge fund manager, was found floating in the pool at the couple’s mansion on Sept. 4, 2007. The story of their party-hard life was documented in a 2008 New York Magazine opus titled “Dead Man’s Float.’’
The Palm Beach County state attorney’s office declined to bring criminal charges in the case. She received an undisclosed settlement from her husband’s estate.
The target of her wrath is a former Florida Gator who helped lead the school to back-to-back national championships. Asked Thursday by ESPNChicago.com for his reaction to the insult, he responded: “Do YOU have fun when somebody sticks their middle finger in your face?” (Nevertheless, he said he felt “blessed.”)
Heat players Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh called the incident unfortunate.
“We don’t applaud it in a sense,” Wade said. “Every team loves their fans to get involved. [But] when it gets to that point, it’s not what we like to deal with.... We ask our fans just to cheer for us, to boo them when they come here, but let’s stay first-class around here in Miami.”
Bosh, however, was forgiving when asked if her pricey courtside season tickets should be revoked.
“No,” Bosh said. “Everybody deserves a second chance.”
Columnist Jose Lambiet and Herald staff writer Barry Jackson contributed to this story.
Join the Discussion
Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.