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14 posts from June 2012

June 29, 2012

Spain reigns over Italy 4-0; plus Stanton leads hot-again Marlins, 'Dirty Secrets of NBA Champs!', Riley on Heat free agency, lacrosse, Olympic song & more

1aa1rslogo[1) It is Monday, July 21. New blogpost coming later this (Monday) morning! 2) We bring you the Rolling Stones' new 50th annivesary logo. I'd have thought the redesign might have had the tongue spitting out dentures. (Sorry, Mick). 3) InsideTheU.com reporting that Hurricanes safety Ray-Ray Armstrong has been suspended for discussions with a booster on Twitter. 4) Woman Super-Glued to Walmart Toilet. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

SUNDAY UPDATES: SPAIN REIGNS; MARLINS HOT AGAIN: Spain beats Italy yesterday 4-nil to win Euro '12. I said I'd be surprised if Spain didn't win but expected a better match for sure. Must admit I was rooting for Mario Balotelli and the u-dog Italians. (Sorry I had the final as 3-0 for a while. Stopped watching in the 86th minute; meant to recheck the final but forgot). ..... Congrats to Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton for his first all-star selection today, well deserved and the first many I have a feeling. (He'll be in the Home Run Derby, too). Stanton is Miami's only all-star and showed why another homer leading a fourth straight victory. The topsy turvy Marlins are suddenly topsy again!

'DIRTY SECRETS OF THE NBA CHAMPS!': Well I saw that headline in the Publix checkout line today and since the July 9 issue of the Globe called it a Special Report I had to waste spend $3.99 to find out what the dirty secrets are. 1) 'LeBron James' family shame': Old news about his mom Gloria's past run-ins with the law. 2) 'Dwyane Wade's boys in kidnapping drama': Rehash of the recent situation that led Wade to seek a revoking of his ex-wife's visitation rights. 3) 'Chris Bosh's Bitter Child Support War': In which the lawyer for the mother of Bosh's daughter claims his $2,600 in monthly child support isn't enough -- even though that is exactly what the courts ordered him to pay. Well, in summary, that's $3.99 I'll never get back, but I spent it so you don't have to. On the bright side, the Globe apparently failed in efforts to prove that any of the Heat's BIg 3 is, in fact, a space alien.

HEAT DRAFT TALL WHITE GUY JUSTIN HAMILTON: Interesting and arguably productive NBA Draft for the Heat last night. 1aa1justinhamiltonThey end up with LSU center Justin Hamilton (pictured) as the 45th overall selection, plus a future conditional first-round (but lottery-protected) pick from Philadelphia, in exchange for sending forward Arnett Moultrie (originally picked 27th by Miami) to the 76ers. (I called Justin "Josh" before noticing the mistake. Sorry!) Arguably productive? Naysaying ESPN.com grades Miami's draft an 'F' because it says Moultrie was a better fit and that Miami also could have drafted a shooter such as Jeff Taylor. Hamilton, 22, is one of those advertised-as 7-foot guys who's really 6-11 but possesses a silky, Bosh-esque shooting touch from the outside. He also has dual U.S./Croatia citizenship, so you can expect the Heat will likely farm him out to develop overseas for a year or two. There was speculation Miami would go small-ball in the draft but they needed size, frontcourt help, so this looks like a prudent choice. That future No. 1 will be a nice bonus, too. Miami had no pressing needs that could be answered with a 27th pick, so call this trade-down for a developmental player the luxury of a champion.

PAT RILEY PREVIEWS FREE AGENCY: It starts Sunday and the Heat don't have the spending power 1aa1prileyavailable to be major players but would like to add an available shooter -- anybody got a number for Ray Allen? -- if he'd take less than he could get elsewhere. Miami's selling point? "Not many teams have a chance of winning a title," as club president Pat Riley (right) noted late last night in post-draft remarks. Riles said the club has "five or six guys earmarked" in free agency with the positional priority a shooter or a big. "We've got a compelling team," said Riley of his champions, "and it excites me to try to make it better."

LORIA: MARLINS STILL "ABSOLUTELY" HAVE PLAYOFF TALENT: Spoke to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria 1aa1jloriayesterday for today's latest column. Click on "I Love Our Chances" to read it. At midseason of Year 1 in the new ballpark, much has been disappointing, from Muhammad Ali/Opening Night to Ozzie Guillen/Fidel Castro to the June swoon to less-than-expected attendance. But now, with the Heat done and football a ways off, this is the Marlins' window of opportunity. The stage is theirs. Do they have a big second-half and playoff run in them? The owner thinks so. Do you?

Poll result: Yearning for Dolphins Super Bowl beats Heat repeat: In the previous blogpost I asked which Miami prefers: The Dolphins to win the Super Bowl this coming season or the Heat to repeat as NBA champions next year. The winner? An end to the Dolphins' 40-year title drought, 63.6 percent to 36.4. The results sound reasonable to me.

PRO LACROSSE TO SOUTH FLORIDA?: Major League Lacrosse stages its all-star game in Boca Raton Saturday night at the FAU football stadium, testing waters for possible future expansion here. So there. 

LONDON OLYMPICS PICKS OFFICIAL SONG: It is "Survival" by the English rock group Muse. Click on Survival to hear it. (You'll be sick of it by the Closing Ceremony). Sounds like a dirge for about the first minute but then gets all peppy, with lyrics about winning and never quitting -- imagine that!? I think bands now write songs expressly to be played at sporting events.

1aa1usflNEW USFL THREATENS 2013 LAUNCH: A new United States Football league is planning a March 2013 startup with eight teams, and initial cities being explored are Akron, Austin/San Antonio, Portland (Ore.) and Salt Lake City. Here is the new logo. You will next see it when the league announces it cannot possibly whip togerther an eight-team league in less than a year and is delaying its launch. You will then see the logo a final time when the USFL announces it is folding before ever playing a game.

WOO-HOO! I WIN A 'CUPY': The Miami Herald gives out monthly in-house CUPY awards for special effort (yeah I have no idea why they're called CUPYs), and I was one of three June winners for my deadline columns during the Heat playoff run. (The only negative? Now I'll need a new tombstone to replace the epitaph I'd planned: 'But He Never Won  A CUPY!') Other June winners were news reporters Ellie Brecher and Nadege Green, heavy lifters on the Causeway Cannibal story. I was talking to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade about winning; they were talking to cops about somebody's face being chewed off. I like my job.

1aa1magicdickON MAGIC MIKE: I have no interest in seeing the new male-stripper movie, Magic Mike, but the title interests me. I think it's a compromise, not quite what they really wanted. As for what they really wanted, use your imagination. In a totally, totally unrelated question, whatever happened to Richard "Magic Dick" Salwitz, harmonica player and founding member of The J. Geils Band?

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June 26, 2012

Which would Miami prefer: Dolphins Super Bowl win or Heat repeat? (w/ poll); plus Heat's draft-night trade, D-Wade's decision, Olympic knitting, Playboy & more

1aa1lbjsi1) It is Friday, June 29. Unsurprisingly look who's on the cover (right) of the new Sports Illustrated. 2) R.I.P., Eddie Jones, longtime former Dolphins club president, who passed away at 74. 3) Congrats to former Panthers goal-socrng champ Pavel Bure for making the hockey hall of fame. 4) Cannibalistic vampire attacks blamed on bath salts. This is a blog. Could I say it if it weren't true!? Click here and here for related stories. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

Click on D-Wade Allowed It for my column in our Heat special commemorative section on how Dwyane Wade's selflessness caused all of this -- the assembling of the Big 3 and also LeBron James' MVP emergence this year. Click A City Floats On Air for my column off the Heat championship parade that drew 400,000. By the way, question for Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert: That promise two years ago that Cleveland would win an NBA title before Miami -- how'd that work out for ya?

VOTE! WOULD YOU RATHER SEE DOLPHINS WIN SUPER BOWL OR A HEAT REPEAT?: On my every-Tuesday spot on Dan Le Batard's 790 The Ticket radio show this week he asked which of those options I 1aa1doltrophy 1aa1heattrophythought most of South Florida would prefer and I said -- without much hesitation -- a Dolphins Super Bowl win. I think 40 years of built-up want trumps the good kind of greedy that would desire a second straight Heat title. I thought (and think) it's pretty clear. But Dan said texters to his show disagreed with me. Well, you all know that Honest Disagreement + Good Arguments On Both Sides = the petri dish for a poll. So here we go. Two ways to interpret the question: 1) What would you personally most like to see? 2) What would South Florida at large prefer? Answering from either perspective is OK. All I ask is that you try to step back from the immediacy of the Heat feelgood and encompass a broader vantage. I know this poll topic will annoy some, like, I want both! Fine. Reach down and make a choice. This is not a favorite-team poll. This is asking which occurence would be bigger. I still say it would be a thoroughly unexpected, Cinderella Dolphins Super Bowl win over an unsurprising Heat repeat. But I may be wrong. You'll tell me. Vote and say why.

1aa1lbjvidNBA VIDEO COVER DISSES LEBRON: What's a season MVP, Finals MVP and newly crowned champion gotta do to get a little respect around here!? You'd think the Heat's LeBron James would be the starting point, the no-brainer, for the cover of the new 'NBA 2K13' video game (pictured). But no! It's Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose on the cover instead. If only LeBron had had a better season, I guess.

SMART: HEAT TRADE TOP DRAFT PICK: Miami picking 27th overall in the NBA draft draft selected Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie tonight but then quickly traded him to Philadelphia for tonight's 45th overall choice and a future No. 1 pick. A future No. 1! That's big, and smart. It says, WE'RE THE CHAMPIONS. WE'RE OK RIGHT NOW, THANK YOU.

WADE OPTS FOR SURGERY OVER OLYMPICS: Dwayne Wade has opted to have surgery on the knee that hampered him in the playoffs rather than play for Team USA in the Lodnon olympics. Smart move. The U.S. Olympic team doesn't need Wade nearly as much as the Heat will need a healthy Wade next season.

RAY ALLEN IN A HEAT UNIFORM?: See left if you can't picture it. There reportedly is mutual interest in the Celtics veteran guard, a 1aa1allenrayheatfree agent on July 1, joining the Heat. He's be useful as a wingman shooting 3's, especially if physical woes hasten Mike Miller's retirement. Still, I have trouble seeing it. Allen will be 37 on July 20 and is coming off recent ankle surgery. Plus, Miami is in position to offer him only $3 million per year, less than one-third what he made this past season in Boston. With free agency about to start, though, Allen is the first of many names who'll be rumored or linked to the Heat. Lamar Odom, anyone? Steve Nash? [Your Name Here]?

1aa1lebwedLeBron on Letterman: Did you see LeBron James on the David Letterman show (left) last night? Click on LeBetterman for the 12-minute 1aa1davelebvideo of the appearance. Good stuff. Came on to a standing ovation, and kept his cool and his smile even though Dave beat the Cleveland angle pretty hard. This was another major step in the reimaging of LeBron: A beast on the court but likeable off it. James came off as affable and able to laugh at himself with ol' Dave. Another sign of the kinder, gentler LeBron is at right. Saturday, meeting someone at the Ritz Carlton in the Grove, LeBron happened past a random wedding and agreed to pose for this photo.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in praise of LeBron: The great Hall of Fame center writes glowingly about the transformation of James for ESPN.com. Click here to peruse.

Poll result: Perfect Season Dolphins still reign ... but barely: I invited you to say which of Miami's six pro sports titles is most special to you, the timing of the poll obviously favoring the 2012 Heat. But you narrowly reaffirmed the power of perfection instead. The '72 Dolphins edge the '12 Heat by 35.7 to 33.7 percent, with the 1997 Marlins a distant third at 8.9%. My poll analysis: Y'all done good. Right choice. (But also right that it was close).

1aa1knittingAMERICAN KNITTING COMMUNITY OUTRAGED AT OLYMPICS!: Who knew there was an American knitting community? But there is and it is angry at the U.S. Olympic Committee for its legal action to prevent a knitting group from staging an annual event using the name "Ravelympics." So great was the outcry that the mighty USOC relented and apologized. Click on Knit To Be Tied for the strange yet ultimately inspiring tale. It's quite a yarn. (Sorry). By the way, is it just me, or does the Grandma pictured appear to be shooting a bird underneath that knitted cap? GRAMS!

ANTHONY DAVIS BANKING ON HIS BROWS: Perhaps inspired by Jeremy Lin 1aa1anthony davis 1aa1anthony2being granted legal rights to "Linsanity," tonight's certain No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis of Kentucky has trademarked the phrases "Fear the Brow" and "Raise the Brow." Davis (pictured) leads the league in unibrows, although personally I'd still award that title to Bert, of Bert & Ernie.

ON SANDUSKY AND THE SWASTIKA: The lawyer for convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky says, "He wants people to know that he's not guilty." Dear Jerry: We want you to know that nobody believes you, you child-raping piece of crap. His crimes are awful enough, but there is something absolutely galling about a man who even in the face of overwhelming evidence and testimony will show no admission, apology or remorse. Simply pathetic. (I can think of only one endeavor perhaps more challenging than anyone attempting to rehabilitate the image of Sandusky, and that would be someone attempting to rehabilitate the image of the swastika. But someone's trying to do just that. Click here if you don't believe me. Or if you do).

1aa1jenny39INSPIRATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: It has come to my attention that Jenny McCarthy appears on the July/August cover of Playboy. So, as a public service, in an attempt to empower young girls and women with the notion they, too, can still look smokin' hot at age 39, we present this photographic evidence.

MOST TRUSTED COMPANIES: Barron's names the 100 most trusted corporations/brands. The top 10 are: 10. Intel; 9. Nestle; 8. Coca-Cola; 7. UPS; 6. 3M; 5. Caterpillar; 4. Amazon.com; 3. McDonald's; 2. IBM; and 1. Greg Cote's Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog. OK I made up that last one. No. 1 is Apple.

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June 23, 2012

Poll: Which Miami pro sports title is most special? Vote!; plus Heat parade review and party video, Sandusky, Messi, Marlins & more

[1) It is Tuesday, June 26. The Marlins blew a big lead and lost last night, Or, did that go without saying? 2) Click on Random for my latest Sunday notes column, leading with Heat. 3) Panthers select defenseman Mike Matheson, 18, from Quebec, with 23rd pick in NHL draft. See you in a few years, kid. Maybe. Or not. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

I LOVE A PARADE: Took in the Heat victory parade and arena celebration today. Click on The Power of Sports for my new column on it, online now and shipping to Tuesday's paper. It was not a perfect day. Lots of fans disappointed the parade moved along too quickly, and other complaining there was no culminating appearance on the arena steps (as there was in 2006). Still, a great day for Miami, and a reminder of the power of sports to bring together a community.

1aa1heatpartyPARTYING LIKE AN NBA CHAMPION: Heat players, family and friends partied all night at a jammed Club LIV in the Fontainebleau after winning the NBA championship, running up a tab of close to $250,000. (Then again, LeBron James is the world's fourth-highest-paid athlete at $54 million a year counting endorsements. A quarter-mil to him is, mathematically, around $235 to a guy making $50,000 a year). The public portion of the party had the stars up on stage, with LeBron and Dwyane Wade even briefly grabbing the mic to rap. LeBron wore a shirt showing his likeness with vampire teeth. Interesting. That was last year's image. Now I think he's the hero who slays the vampire and saves us all. Click HERE to see a few minutes of the Heat's pricey partying Heat in a video courtesy Seth Browarnik and Worldredeye.com.

POLL: WHICH TWO SOUTH FLORIDA PRO SPORTS TITLES ARE MOST SPECIAL TO YOU?: Greater Miami now has six major professional sports crowns: Dolphins in 1972 and '73, Marlins in 1997 and 2003, and Heat in 2006 and 2012. Here I invite you to vote for the TWO that are the most special to you. Use whatever criteria you wish: Historical importance, most fun, made you most proud, whatever. Vote for your top two and then say why...

Poll note: I understand the timing of this poll greatly favors the title the Heat just won. But the support being shown for the most distant of the six titles also shows fans are able to step back and vote how they feel.

SANDUSKY TO LEARN WHAT A REAL 'TICKLE MONSTER' IS: Defrocked Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the demon pedophile convicted of 45 of 48 counts of abusing young boys, deserves 1aa1jerrysevery minute and more of whatever sentence he gets. It will be tantamount to a life sentence for a man 68, after which I'd convince myself there is a hell just to picture Sandusky in it. His lack of admission, contrition and remorse compounds the feeling about him. It is difficult to imagine his life from here won't be doubly awful if he is allowed in the general prison population. I am told pedophiles don't do well in there. One imagines the "Tickle Monster" will be getting what he's been giving; call it the heavy hand of karma. Except, in prison, I don't they they call it tickling.

WHY MESSI HERE WAS NOT SUCH A BIG DEAL: I'm a soccer fan. I appreciate Lionel Messi as the best futbol player on Earth (at least the best goal-scorer). And I respect that thousands who watched the other night at Dolphins stadium were excited. I don't get why this was seen as such a big event, though. It was not a bona fide game between national teams or premier club teams. It wasn't a bona fide game, period. It was an international all-star game that meant nothing. Remember the farce of those NBA touring all-star games during the lockout? This was the soccer version, complete with no semblance of defense .

MARLINS' ROCK BOTTOM KEEPS GETTIN ROCK BOTTOMER: Marlins blew a big lead and last night and lost in 10 innings, making it 16 lossses in the past 19 games. When you consider the Muhammad Ali/Opening Night fiasco, Ozzie's Fidel Castro mess, the team's complete overshadowing by the Heat title run, smaller than expected average attendance and now this June swoon, the long-awaited Year of the New Ballpark has pretty much been a mess so far for the Marlins.

CLEVELAND JUST CAN'T LET IT GO: Cleveland's WTAM-1100 radio has a "You Still Suck, LeBron!" promo (click here) on its website inviting liseners to agree with that sentiment. When last I checked, almost 3,000 people had. Stay classy, Cleveland!

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June 21, 2012

CHAMPIONS! HEAT REIGN AS LEBRON WINS FINALS MVP! LET'S PARTY!

[1) It is Saturday, June 23. New blogpost coming later today. 2) Thanks again to 'First Take' for having me on this week. It was a bit more scripted than I'd hoped, no chance to needle Skip Bayless about his anti-LeBron leaning (well, except off-air afterward). But thanks to ESPN just the same. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on V-Day: Victory, Vindication, Validation for Heat & LeBron for my early-version column off Miami's championship victory.

VICTORY PARADE MONDAY 11 A.M.: Starts at corner of SW 8th Street and 2nd Avenue, winds along Brickell and Biscayne, ends at arena.

G5: HEAT 121, THUNDER 106: MIAMI CELEBRATES AS HEAT, LEBRON EARN ULTIMATE REDEMPTION!: SMELLS LIKE CHAMPAGNE IN HERE! Awesome, right? Awesome. I'm the paid nuetral observer, but I make no apology for feeling good for South Florida, feeling good for Heat fans, feeling good for LeBron James, feeling good for Pat Riley, D-Wade, Udonis and all the other good people connected with this franchise. You too, Juwan Howard. (Yes, also feeling good I don't have to hop a Sunday flight to Oklahoma City...) What a show tonight! Finals MVP LeBron James with a triple-double, fellow BIg 1aa1heraldfront3'ers Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both with 20-plus, and Mike Miller -- Mike Miller! -- leading a barrage of 3-point baskets with half of Miami's NBA-Finals-record tying 14. Original post: There will be no in-between tonight as midnight nears, no mistaking the sound. Carhorns will be honking in a jubilant cacophony. Or downtown will be eerily, numbly quiet, choked by disappointment and anxiety. That sound, or lack of, will be the difference tonight between Miami taking Game 5 and winning the franchise's second championship -- celebrating on its own floor for the first time -- or failing to do so and heading back to Oklahoma City with momentum swung back to the Thunder. And a lot of that will depend on whether LeBron James is fully recovered from his severe leg cramps and ready to win his first NBA championship. Man, sports do not get much better than what the feeling will be in the arena at tip-off. Can't wait. Nothing would surprise me (and prudently I have an Oklahoma City flight on hold), but I see the Heat closing it out tonight and celebrating the moment that's been two years in the making. Do you? Or do you have a queasy feeling about tonight that you hate to admit? 

THREE KEYS FOR HEAT IN GAME 5: 1) A healthy LeBron James, of course. What were reported as leg cramps hindered James the last five minutes of Game 4 and kept him out entirely the crucial last minute. Will 1aa1keys3here be an after-effect? Do we believe conspiracy theories about a more serious injury? There is no reason to think LeBron won't be 100 percent, but we can't know for sure until the game is on. 2) Better defense on OKC's big two. Do you like Miami's chances tonight if Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combine for 70-plus points again? Me, neither. 3) Another 'Other Guy' stepping up. Earlier in the series it was Shane Battier with his 3's. Tuesday night it was Mario Chalmers with his big 25 points. When Heat have someone other than the Big 3 in at least a peripheral starring role, good things happen. Hidden Bonus Key Just For You: Treat this like a winner-take-all Game 7: Because Heat heading back to Oklahoma City needing to win one of two there will cause high anxiety across South Florida. And with good reason.

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June 19, 2012

Finals G4: Heat 104, Thunder 98: Plan that parade! Miami seizes 3-1 lead; plus me on First Take (uh oh), Pat Riley, Speedos, Dolphins & more

1aa1beatle1 1aa1beatle2[1) It is Thursday, June 21. Vikings WR-KR Percy Harvin seeks trade. He'd be interesting fit for Dolphins. i'm just sayin'. 2) Thunder's Serge Ibaka said LeBron James is "not a good defender." In defense of Serge, I think he was drunk when he said it. 3) You want "time flies"? Paul McCartney (pictured) turned 70 Monday. 4) Ever imagine that Chad Ochocinco's first practice as a Dolphin would be such an afterthought? 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

UH OH. COTE ON ESPN'S 'FIRST TAKE': That's the shoutfest with Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. I'll be a guest today/Thursday yelling about discussing the Heat, of course. Show airs 10 a.m. to noon; think my segment will be around 11. Looking forward to finding a way to needle Bayless for his comically incessant LeBron-bashing. Actual exchange today after I told my son I'd be on the show and he asked if I was nervous. "Why?" I said. "I've done 'Outside The Lines' a bunch of times, haven't I?" "Yeah," he said, "but people actually watch 'First Take'!"

Click on Two Heavyweights, One Standing for my lastest column off last night's Game 4 Heat win. Click LeBron's Road to Redemption for my previous column on how the Heat and LeBron James are earning respect and changing perceptions.

Wade's family issue: Attorneys for Dwyane Wade asked a Chicago judge on Tuesday to suspend his ex-wife's visitations rights for their two young sons following an incident in which she delayed the boys' return to his custody, leading to her arrest.

Riley's honor: Heat president Pat Riley received the NBA's Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award before Game 4, well deserved. Riley called Miami's 2006 crown the most "cherished" of his titles and gave no hint of retirement. "I'm looking to build this thing even better," he said. "I still have a lot of bite left in my bark." 

G4: HEAT 104, THUNDER 98: MIAMI PUTS THE HAMMER DOWN!: LeBron James goes out with leg cramps late in the game -- a fan's worst nightmare -- but Heat win, anyway. James with 26 points 1aa1dwadeglassesbefore limping off, Dwyane Wade with 25 and, most unexpectedly, Mario Chalmers also with 25 points. Adversity's Team overcame an early 17-point deficit and now is on the verge of the title with a 3-1 series lead. No team in NBA history has been up 3-1 in the Finals and not won a championship. Game 5 is Thursday night right back here. Ticker tape, anyone? Champagne chilled? Note: Wade appeared in the postgame news conference wearing glasses with flip-up shades, a la Dwayne Wayne (pictured) from TV's A Different World. Dwyane Wade channels Dwayne Wayne! ..... Original post: I love that every result in a best-of-seven 1aa1miaokc1changes the context of the series, and with Miami up 2-1 tonight's Game 4 here is no exception. With a win the Heat is in control and able to win the championship on its own floor. But with a loss to even the series Miami would be 1aa1miaokc2forced to win at least one game in Oklahoma City. Momentum and the home-court edge would swing back to OKC, and the pressure would swing to Miami. That's why a hammer-down mentaltiy is essential. That is what Dwyane Wade had in mind Monday when asked if he was "comfortable" with a 2-1 lead. He scoffed, said, "I can't even spell that word right now." For Miami tonight will -- realistically -- make an NBA championship feel very likely, or cast it back in doubt.

LEBRON FOURTH ON WORLD ATHLETE $$$ LIST: Forbes is at it with another list, this one the World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes in combined salary/endorsements, and LeBron James checks in No. 4 with $53 million over past year. The top 10: Floyd Mayweather (85M), Manny Pacquiao (62), Tiger Woods (59.4), LeBron, Roger Federer (52.7), Kobe Bryant (52.3), Phil Mickelson (47.8), David Beckham (46), Cristiano Ronaldo (42.5) and Peyton Manning (42.4). Also notable: Alex Rodriguez 18th (33M), Kevin Durant 34th (25.5), Dwyane Wade 35th (24.7) and Carlos Zambrano 91st (17.3; most being paid by the Cubs, not Marlins).

THREE KEYS FOR HEAT IN GAME 4: 1) Hit an outside shot. Please? Miami lived on the short game in G3 with 46 points in the paint and 31 on free throws. When you extract the four 3-pointers made, 1aa1keys3the Heat was a miserable 1-for-18 on mid-range jumpers. You have to figure OKC's defensive plan will be to limit Miami's inside game tonight, meaning better Heat shooting on regular ol' jump shots will be a must. 2) Continue the free-throw turnaround. Miami as a team was barely over 70 percent on free-throws in the postseason entering this series but is up around 85 percent in The Finals. In games being decided by just a few points, that's been huge. 3) Maintain defense as a starting-point and mindset. Kevin Durant is getting his points but is frustrated by foul trouble. Russell Westbrook has been kept off his game. James Harden & His Magic Beard have been nearly invisible. Defense is winning this series for Miami. Hidden Bonus Key Just For You: Avoid overconfidence. Remember that Oklahoma City trailed San Antonio 2-0 in the Western finals. Heat do not own sole rights to resilience.

1aa1danspeedoPAYOFF TIME FOR BARKLEY/LE BATARD SPEEDO BET: Prior to last year's NBA Finals television gasbag Charles Barkley bet Dallas would win, while 790 The Ticket yakmeister Dan Le Batard said Miami. The bet: The loser had to wear a Speedo bathing suit in a public setting. (I love that sports-talk radio shuns gimmickry and self-promotion don't you?!) The bet payoff: Yesterday at The Clevelander on South Beach came Dan's big unveiling. Pictured right: Le Batard, practicing. (I wouldn't torture blog readers with the real thing). 

OKC WALLOPS MIAMI IN CIVIC MANLINESS: It's true. Oklahoma City is No. 1, the Manliest City in the U.S. and Miami ranks only 36th, according to a fourth annual America's Manliest Cities study conducted by Combo's, the snack. The 50 biggest metropolitan areas are rated on several manly criteria such as most pickup trucks. Miami shouldn't feel too bad, though, nor OKC too happy. I have not yet confirmed but hear the study refers to manliest women.

Warning: Following items are NOT about Heat or NBA Finals!

1aa1clemensROGER CLEMENS: THE ODD VERDICT: Baseball's defrocked Rocket, acquitted of all six perjury charges. So the jury is saying Roger Clemens did not lie under oath about using steroids, meaning (it would then figure) he did not use steroids. Do we believe that? Um, not really. The taint of perception will remain, although being absolved officially at least gives Clemens a fighting chance on the Hall of Fame ballot. Meantime, what this verdict really means is that prosectors did a lousy job, didn't have enough to work with, or that the government shouldn't be involved with these sports cases in the first place.

SPIN THE DOLPHINS' QB WHEEL: Dolphins stage a three-day minicamp Tuesday through Thursday and by the end of the week the quarterback situation heading into training camp should have largely defined 1aa1tannehillwifeitself. I can't recall Miami ever having a three-way battle like this one. Nobody winning the starting job would shock me. See incumbent Matt Moore as the favorite, but narrowly. Veteran David Garrard has impressed, and rookie Ryan Tannehill, though perceived as needing time, has done well picking up a system already familiar to him. As a journalist I of course am a neutral observer. However, if you suggested to me that hoping Tannehill wins the job makes sense only so we might see more of his wife (pictured), I would find that hard to argue.     

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June 17, 2012

Finals G3: Heat 91, Thunder 85: LeBron leads way (again) as Miami gives itself big chance to win title on home floor; plus Father's Day video with D-Wade & more

[1) It is Tuesday, June 19. Hope y'all had a Happy Father's Day, fellow padres! 2) Click on Random Evidence for my Sunday notes column that led this week with the NBA Finals. (Warning: People from Oklahoma might want to skip the first part). 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Heat's Big 3 (Players And Home Games) Have Thunder In Trouble for my column off last night's Game 3 win. Click The Unexpected Late Turn In Shane Battier's Journey for my earlier column. And check out our Father's Day video starring Dwyane Wade at the end of this blogpost...

NBA FINALS G3: HEAT 91, THUNDER 85: MIAMI SEIZES COMMAND OF SERIES: Miami's Big 3 scored the game's final 15 points for the Heat in a victory that puts Miami in charge, with a 2-1 series lead and then next two games back here at home. LeBron James' 29 points and 14 rebounds, Dwyane Wade's 25 points and Chris Bosh's 10 points and 11 rebounds led the Heat. So did aggressiveness reflected in Miami's 46 points in the paint and 35 free-throw attempts. The Heat shot only 37.8 percent from the field yet had the resourcefulnes to prevail. It was a victory more ugly than artful, but a beautiful thing for Heat fans. Original post: I'm no stat-nerd by nature but find it worth relaying that 85.3 percent of all NBA Finals that were tied 1-1 have seen the winner 1aa1heatokc1of Game 3 go on to be champion. And doesn't tonight feel about that important? If Miami takes care of home business for a 2-1 series lead the franchise's second NBA title trophy would begin to loom into realistic view. But an upset home loss 1aa1heatokc2would swing everything back to OKC's favor. Pictured left: LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both looking for a championship. Their duel has lived up to billing thus far and could turn epic, with Durant averaging 34 points and James 31 through two games. Now LeBron returns to the one arena that loves him: Miami's. Thunder crowds make their arena supposedly the loudest in the league. Heat fans have never enjoyed that reputation but can stake their claim beginning tonight. In Game 7 vs. Boston here in the Eastern finals every seat was filled by tip-off, a first, and the ambience was sonic, downright Thunder-ous. Time to kick it up a notch, Miami.

Share your thoughts here on the Finals and Game 3 before, during and especially after tonight's game.

THREE KEYS FOR HEAT IN GAME 3: 1) Withstand OKC's energy early. You'd think the visitors might be the ones to be concerned about Miami's energy out the gate given the venue and crowd, but -- after the 1aa1keys3Heat led by 11 in the first quarter of Game 1 and then burst to that 18-2 lead in Game 2 -- the Thunder's emphasis tonight will be an attacking, fast start. 2) Tell Shane Battier to please not wake up from his dream. Mr. 9-for-13 On 3s has provided the outside shooting that has really opened the floor for the other guys and been quietly instrumental in the Finals so far. 3) Continue to pound the paint. LeBron James especially and also Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh must continue to strive for points in Dunkville and Layupland. Miami's aggression inside was the big difference in the Game 2 win. When James turns brutish, is taking double-digit free throws and has the postgame bruises to show for it, good things usually happen for Miami. Hidden Bonus Key Just For You: Seize the mystical power of Game 3: In NBA history there have been 34 Finals that started 1-1, and 29 of them (85.3 percent) have been won by the team that took Game 3 for a 2-1 series lead. (Granted one of the exceptions was Miami last year ... but still!)

1aa1dwadedadFATHER'S DAY GREETING FROM ME TO YOU: Dwyane Wade just spent months writing a soul-searching book about the nourishing powers of fatherhood. I just spent about five minutes creating a short video "starring" Wade. Click here

Click back for our updated postgame commentary and analysis. Some day this blog will get back to stuff other than the Heat. I promise...

June 14, 2012

Finals G2: Heat 100, Thunder 96: Miami dominates early, hangs on, evens series as Bosh comes up huge in first start in a month

[1) It is Saturday, June 16. Broke my fast at an OKC Waffle House, where the waitresses wore T-shirts that read, "Thunder Up Or Shut Up." I ate in silence. No offense, Oklahoma, but I can't wait to get back to So-Fla. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Adversity's Team for my latest column from Oklahoma City off the Heat's Game 2 victory. Click Heat Still Tinkering for my column entering Game 2. And click Wade Must Be Wade Again for my earlier off the Game 1 loss.

NBA FINALS G2: HEAT 100, THUNDER 96: BIG 3 SCORES 72 AS MIAMI SEIZES CONTROL OF ITS CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES: A wild-ride game in a wild-ride postseason, with Miami in control most of the game (the Heat never trailed), then hanging on desperately in the final minute. Chris Bosh starting and scoring 16 points with 15 rebounds may have been the player of the game, although he had company in LeBron James (32 points including 12-for-12 on free throws), Dwyane Wade (a resurgent 24 points) and even Shane Battier (17 points including 5-for-7 on 3's). Miami also adjusted well from Game 1, especially offensively in attacking the paint, and defensively in limiting OKC's vaunted fast breaks. Now, with a 1-1 series headed for three straight games in Miami, the Heat's championship shot seems big again. Not assured. But big. One caution moving forward: Coach Erik Spoelstra drove all five starters hard tonight, with LeBron, Battier and Bosh topping 40 minutes each and Wade and Mario Chalmers at 39-plus. Eight total points from a limited bench worked out here, but more will be needed in a long series in terms of depth. ..... Original post: Reporting to you live from a Miami Herald-budget-pleasing economy hotel room in Oklahoma City preparatory to heading to the OKC arena for tonight's NBA Finals Game 2: How much do you believe, Heat fans? You watched a 13-point Game 1 lead fritter away to an 11-point Heat loss. Is your faith 1aa1heatthunderin this team and this dream strong enough for that? Or do you enter tonight's Game 2 back here in Oklahoma City seriously worried that a 1aa1finals12second straight trip to the Finals will end in disappointment for Miami? I begin this latest blogpost with questions because, honestly, I don't have answers. Most in sports media are frightened to admit that, so they feed you banality, bluster and bulls--- thinly disguised as truth. I'll admit I have no concrete idea what will happen tonight or in this series -- which is one reason I think it could turn out to a terrific series. I don't think Pat Riley or Erik Spoelstra have a real idea, either. How could they? No result tonight would be a surprise. As for the series, Thunder in 5? Heat in 6? Coin flip in 7? There is no smart money on these NBA Finals. Only nervous money.

THREE KEYS FOR HEAT IN GAME 2: As we await official word on whether Chris Bosh will return to tonight's starting lineup as I suspect he will, our Three Keys to a series-knotting Miami victory tonight: 1) Defend Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook better. That unmistakably starts with limiting OKC's fast-breaks led by them. Thunder dominated Tuesday in FB points 24-4. 1aa1keysthreeMiami must severely limit both that opponent number and that disparity. 2) Have a greater presence in the paint. In Game 1 O-City ably limited Miami's layups and easy baskets. Heat must not resign itself to hoping the 3-point shots fall but instead be more aggressive in penetrating the paint for layups or dunks or to draw fouls. 3) Get Dwyane Wade going early. Coach Erik Spoelstra spoke Wednesday of needing to draw up plays to get Wade open looks. LeBron James said he wanted to get Wade some easy baskets early to spark his confidence. Wade himself promised to be more aggressive. Dwyane has shot under 50 percent in six straight games and scored under 20 in five of those. Miami needs more offensive presence from him to ease the burden on LeBron. Hidden Bonus Key Just For You: Win the 3rd quarter: Miami is 0-6 this postseason when it loses the period coming out of halftime (as it did in Game 1), but 12-1 when it wins or ties the third quarter.

Watch for our postgame updates and analysis later tonight...

June 12, 2012

Finals G1: Thunder 105, Heat 94: Late collapse, Wade's off-night doom Miami; plus Wednesday update live from OKC

[1) It is Wednesday, June 13. Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his radio show this morning to chat Heat. 2) Voting in our who'll-win-the-NBA Finals poll continues in blogpost directly below this latest one, although if you're still voting at this point it's like cheating, no? 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Wade Must Be Wade Again for my column from Oklahoma City off last night's Game 1, and thanks for making it the most hit-upon entity on all of MiamiHerald.com today. Click on LeBron's Time for my earlier column previewing the Heat-Thunder Finals.

WEDNESDAY MISCELLANIA FROM OKC: WADE ON LIFE IN OKLAHOMA (AND MORE): Dwyane Wade, asked today about how Kevin Durant isn't known very well outside of basketball: "Being in Oklahoma kind of dims his light a little bit [in terms of being known] off the court. There's not a lot going on out here." ..... Our Game 1 column on how Wade looked old and must do more for Miami to win the series echoed around the Finals a day later. Erik Spoelstra insisted Wade's left knee is not an issue; "He's fine." Wade said, "I mean I want to score more. I want to give my team more. I'll be more aggressive looking for my opportunities." Wade acknowledged he no longer has the athleticism at age 30 he had in his first NBA Finals in 2006 at age 24 but said, "I still have something left in me. One day Father Time will knock on the door and tap me on the shoulder, but not right now." ..... Thunder coach Scott Brooks acknowledged their priority it to prevent Miami getting easy layups and paint points and that OKC will live with giving up open looks on 3-point tries. ..... Thunder's Russell Westbrook took credit for the lense-less fashion eyeglasses that have become standard postgame fare for many NBA stars including the main ones in these Finals. LeBron James took exception, saying, "He didn't start it. It could have started in the '70s or '80s." ..... Memorable sight from today's Heat practice prior to it formally starting: LeBron, wearing hideous fluorescent orange sneakers, expertly spinning a basketball on his fingertip for about 20 seconds nonstop. ..... Country star Sara Evans will perform the Game 2 national anthem. Yee haw! 

NBA FINALS G1: THUNDER 105, HEAT 94: ONLY ONE GAME, OR IS MIAMI IN TROUBLE?: Not beating up on Dwyane Wade, but 19 points on 7-for-19 shooting won't get it done in this series against a very good 1aa1heatthunderOklahoma City team. Speculation is Wade's knee isn't quite right, but he's playing minutes to suggest otherwise. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both performed well last night. So did LeBron James (30 points), although the fact he was outscored by Durant in the game -- and especially in the fourth quarter, 17-7, will have LeBron's critics out howling anew. Wade was off. That was the issue. Wade needs to take 1aa1heatthunder2some burden off James. The Heat are in trouble when Shane Battier is playing 42  minutes and is your second-best player on the night. It's a long series (Miami hopes), but Heat must find a way against a very good, very explosive Thunder team. Original post: Oklahoma City's home-court advantage presents a simple imperative (simple to understand, not accomplish): To be champions, the Heat must win at least once in the  Thunder's dome, silencing what are billed as the loudest, most collegiately enthusiastic fans in the league. So why not tonight? Right? I love this matchup. Love the contrast in the two cities. Love LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. Love the vindication factor for LeBron and Miami. Love the presumption of wide-open, attacking basketball and probably not a winner under 100 points. I resist intangibles when possible, yet I think LeBron and Miami are just a shade hungrier and more driven than Durant and OKC. Miami will find a way to win here on the prairie, maybe not tonight, but in this series. NBA Finals prediction: Heat in 7 games

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

June 11, 2012

Who'll win Heat-Thunder NBA Finals? Vote now (with poll); bettors, America siding with OKC; plus Dolphins sign Chad Ochocinco & more

[1) It is Tuesday, June 12. "I am flying to Oklahoma." I never imagined I would say those words and be happy about it. 2) ESPN set cable record for an NBA game with a 9.1 rating for Heat-Celtics Game 7. ABC expects better ratings for Heat-Thunder than if Boston had made Finals. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Bosh poll still open: Should Chris Bosh return to starting lineup in NBA Finals or would Heat be smarter to keep him as best weapon off bench? You can still vote in blogpost directly below this new one.

HOW CONFIDENT, HEAT FANS? PREDICT THE NBA FINALS. VOTE HERE: Our official NBA Finals result 1aa1finalsnbapoll is below. I'd invite you to separate what you hope happens from what you honestly believe will happen. In other words (to the degree it's possible), try to vote with your gut, or as if placing a bet, rather than with your heart. We did this before the previous two series as well. Against Indiana a plurality of 49.4 percent had it Miami in 5 games, with 8.2% picking the Pacers. Against Boston a plurality of 40.3 had it Miami in 6 games, with 14.2% picking the Celtics. Now onto Heat-Thunder. Poll open!

A FIRST: HEAT BETTING UNDERDOGS FOR FIRST TIME IN BIG 3'S TWO SEASONS: From the first betting prior to last season straight through the Boston series just ended, the Big 3 Heat has been the favorite to win both season titles and every playoff series. Until now. Now Miami has a motivation new to it: Underdog. Mirroring most sports books, Bovada has the Oklahoma City Thunder a 10/17 betting favorite (at minus-17) in the NBA Finals, with Miami at 3-2  (and plus-150). The line for Game 1 (there Tuesday night) moved from 4 1/2 to 5 points favoring OKC. Interestingly, though, Bovada sportsbook manager Kevin Bradley says about 65 percent of the action is laying on Miami anhd that he expects that to jump to 70% --  meaning a lot of people and their money maybe think the Heat shouldn't be underdogs at all. While bettors are torn, the Thunder unsurprisingly have the support of America, according to new ESPN SportsNation results showing 63 percent think OKC will win the title and 61% hope they do. The biggest disparity in the poll is in coaching, with 78% saying they'd prefer OKC's Scott Brooks to coach their team over Miami's Erik Spoelstra. Oklahoma City's perceived strong coaching edge clearly is a driving factor in its status as betting fave. Interestingly, though, their similar four-year career records (combined regular season/playoffs) give an edge to Spoelstra with a .617 overall winning percentage in 363 games to Brooks' .585 in 337 games.

Newest NBA ad: Click here to watch the NBA's latest 30-second spot that will debut on ABC during tomorrow's Finals Game 1.

DOLPHINS SIGN  OCHOCINCO: Interesting. Dolphins sign recently cut Patriot WR Chad Ochocinco, the Miamian and the former Chad Johnson. He comes cheap. Smart gamble for a team lacking a premier receiver. Also something that will thrill HBO's Hard Knocks. (You don't think this is because of that, do you? Naaah! No way. Right? Well...)

1aa1heelheat 1aa1heelokcHEAT FASHION: HIGH HEELS: LADIES, SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND LOOK RIDICULOUS AT THE SAME TIME!: A women's fashion footwear and apparel company called HerStar has come out with a line of "microsuede pumps" (or what I'd call "ridiculous high heels," pictured) just in time for the NBA Finals. Ladies, what says "I am the imprimatur of high fashion and class" more than wearing your team's logo on your shoes? They run $99.99 a pair or, with crystals, $274.99. Visit herstar.com. (Not sure if these come in men's sizes as well).

1aa1glassesdw 1aa1glasseslbjHEAT FASHION: GLASSES: PROPOSING A DEAL WITH LEBRON, D-WADE: You may have noticed LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have taken to wearing fashion frames without lenses in postgame interview sessions, or what I like to call, "The Poindexter Look." With apologies to Justin Timberlake, they're bringing Nerdy Back. How's this for a deal: They get to wear the absurd frames only after victories, as a reward. Talk about incentive!

MARLINS: HOME NOT SO SWEET: Marlins have slumped to a 16-16 home record. Miami now has the second-worst home record (White Sox are 14-18) among the 17 teams with winning overall records. So much for that new-ballpark bounce.

ON THE PACQUIAO DECISION: I was able to watch only a couple rounds of the Manny Pacquaio fight the other night so don't have a strong opinion on the consensus that he was robbed by the split-decision loss. A thought, though: Maybe Manny should spend less time singing and engaging in homophobic rants and more time training for his upcoming fights.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

June 09, 2012

G7: Heat 101, Celtics 88: Big 3 huge as Miami roars back into NBA Finals! Plus, should Bosh start or remain weapon off bench in Finals? Vote now (with poll)

[1) It is Monday, June 11. Dolphins will audition free-agent WR Chad Ochocinco. 2) 'I'll Have Another' burst from the equine infirmary and, limping, heroically won the Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown. Then I woke up and saw that 'Union Rags' won. 3) Watched French Open women's final. Gruntfest. Sounded like both players were giving birth on every shot. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

POLL: Should Bosh start or remain a weapon off the bench in Finals? Vote now!: That question will have some traction over the next couple of days so we present it here. It will have traction because, in his postgame interview at about 12:30 a.m. this morning, LeBron James, lauding Chris Bosh's 19 points Saturday, said: "We haven't had that activity, that firepower off the bench since we got here. It may be good for us." Coach Erik Spoelstra will have an interesting decision to make. Not sure he can go wrong, either way, especially with the non-diva Bosh amenable to either role. I'd be tempted to not mess with what's working. Now it's your turn to guide Spoelstra's decision. Vote now and say why. [Game 7 post is directly below the poll].

G7: HEAT 101, CELTICS 88: BIG 3 POPS FOR 73 POINTS; OKLAHOMA CITY ON DECK: "Good job, good effort!," to coin a phrase. Click on Big 3, Indeed for my later-version column off the huge Game 7 triumph. LeBron James continued his stellar postseason with 31 points, Dwyane Wade had 23 and sparked the fourth-quarter surge, and Chris Bosh had a sparkplug 19 off the bench including three three-pointers. How's that, OK? This was the Big 3 Miami imagined in 2010 when this thing came together. This is the Big 3 capable of leading a championship team. Finals start Tuesday in Oklahoma City. Yee haw! Original post: Even though the prize of an NBA Finals appearance vs. Oklahoma City is at stake, the psychology of 1aa1heatcelticshuman nature suggests the Heat will think its heavy lifting in these Easten Conference finals is done and that tonight will be something approaching automatic. That winning Game 6 in Boston was the tough part, and that Game 7 at home tonight will be a comparative breeze. Coach Erik Spoelstra will 1aa1g7passionately preach otherwise to his team today, but it will be up to Heat players to believe it enough to match the Leprechauns' presumed desperate energy, especially early, when the game's tone gels. Miami's Game 7 theme already was evident an hour after the last win in Boston, when Dwyane Wade said looking ahead, "Nothing is promised to us." It should not take another 45 points from MVP LeBron James tonight. (Which is not the same as saying it might not). More from the balance of the Big 3, Wade and Chris Bosh, would be nice -- say, 45 combined from them? Also could use a non-B3 to step up into double figures. (Talking to you, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller or Shane Battier). Give LeBron a break, in other words. A little help. He didn't need much in the way of scoring help with that superhuman Game 6 performance. Chances are he might tonight.

Quick aside on the soda and LeBron: Hate to spoil the fun of my media brethren who have enjoyed dramatically writing and saying that LeBron James had a soda dumped on him by a Celtics fan after Game 6, but it didn't really happen. Not quite. The soda hit the left shoulder and arm of David Holcombe, the Heat's director of team security walking beside James. A drop or two at most touched James.

THE LIST: HEAT GAME 7'S: A chronological history of the six Game 7s in the Heat's 24-year history, with Miami's leading scorer in each:

1997: Heat 101, Knicks 90 in conference semis (Tim Hardaway, 38)

2000: Knicks 83, Heat 82 in conference semis (Alonzo Mourning, 29)

2004: Heat 85, Hornets 77 in first round (Caron Butler, 23)

2005: Pistons 88, Heat 82 in conference finals (Shaquille O'Neal, 27)

2009: Hawks 91, Heat 78 in first round (Dwyane Wade, 31)

2012: Heat 101, Celtics 88 in conference finals (LeBron James, 31)

Note: All were Heat home games except 2009 at Atlanta.