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13 posts from June 2013

June 27, 2013

Trayvon Martin vote too close to call. Poll. Vote now!; plus LeBron, Miami up for 6 ESPYs, Heat slip into NBA Draft, surging Marlins & more

1aa1allenr1) It is SUNDAY, JUNE 30. Heat keep Ray Allen (pictured) for next season. That's big. Not unexpected, but big. 2) See Dwyane Wade appearance with Jimmy Kimmel HERE. 3) Craziest Wimbledon I can recall. Loving it. 4) The NCAA gave Oregon a metaphorical slap on the wrist. Can Hurricanes hope that signals NCAA is in a good mood? We'll find out. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Giancarlo Stanton going nude, over-scrutiny of Heat, Marlins surge, Aaron Hernandez arrest, Serena-Maria catfight, '14 NHL odds.

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Brooklyn now Heat's biggest threat in East: Bovada's post-draft NBA title odds for 2014 have Brooklyn Nets, after their big trade with Celtics, now at 10-1 odds, tied with L.A. Clippers and trailing only the favorite Heat at 2-1 and OKC Thunder at 11-2. Nets inched ahead of Bulls (11-1) and Pacers (15-1) and Miami's biggest theat in Eastern Conference. 

Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes column.

AND THE VERDICT IN THE TRAYVON MARTIN CASE IS...: I write about the arrest of Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez on a murder charge in my latest column, because I'm a sports columnist, and such a 1aa1georgez 1aa1geoz2case involving a main Dolphins rival is riveting. Click here to read that column. But the murder trial that interests me as much is the one ongoing in Sanford, Fla., where former neighborhood security watchman George Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. Accused and victim are pictured, left and right. Zimmerman pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense. Chances are you too have followed the trial, and since our blog colors outside the sports lines on occasion, I thought we'd invite our readers' collective opinion. This trial might not O.J.-big, but it ranks with Casey Anthony and other trials that have struck a chord and been followed closely and with passion. Now you play juror. Based on what you have read, heard or learned of the facts of the case, would you find Zimmerman guilty? Vote and say why, keeping the discourse civil, please.

LEBRON, HEAT UP FOR SIX 'ESPY' AWARDS: I like to make fun of The ESPYs (to be broadcast July 17) 1aa1espysbecause nobody is more unabashed with their shameless self-promotion than ESPN. [Self-awareness check: Me, a guy constantly inviting you to join him on Twitter, Instagram and Vine, making fun of others' self-promotion!] Yet this is big in the sports world, and so it's noteworthy that the champion Heat are finalists for six awards, with nominees newly announce: LeBron James is up for male athlete of the year and NBA player of the year; Erik Spoelstra is up for coach/manager of the year; Ray Allen is up for play of the year for his Finals Game 6 3-pointer, and the Heat is up for team of the year and game of the year (Finals Game 6). Click here to see all the nominees and to vote.

HEAT TRADE INTO DRAFT, LARKIN GOES 18TH: Heat acquire 50th overall draft pick James Ennis from Hawks for a future second-rounder. Ennis, pictured left looking NBA-hip, is a 6-7 G/F from Long 1aa1ennisjBeach State. UM's Shane Larkin went 18th overall to Dallas (via Atlanta) but as interesting, to me, was Tim Hardaway Jr. going 24th to ... the New York Knicks! Son of a Heat icon playing for NYK. Ouch! Also, Glen Rice Jr. went early second-round to Philly. Kenny Kadji and other ex-Canes undrafted. Someone, by the way, convinced Shane Larkin he looked good in that teal bowtie. Find that person and demand an apology! Original post: Miami has no picks in either the first or second rounds tonight so it's as if the NBA Draft is sort of happening but not really. Reason to not watch 1aa1draft13the draft: It's a down-year draft overall, plus Cleveland picks first (again), and I can't bear the idea of seeing Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and his nerdy son Nick both parading around in their stupid bowties. (Yes, I know that Nick is battling a disease called neurofibromatosis. I'm sorry for him. But he's no less a nerd in that ridiculous bowtie). I also have a long-standing policy of not watching any draft in which the overall No. 1 pick is a guy named "Nerlens." Reasons to watch the draft: The Miami factor, of course. Ex-Canes guard Shane Larkin should go around mid-first round and UM's Kenny Kadji is a possible though not definite second-round pick. The sons of two prominent former Heaters, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Rice Jr., also are likely to be chosen late in the first round and maybe in the second, respectively. Plus, one Gator, Erik Murphy, is stamped 2R.

LEBRON VS. MICHEAL? VERDICT IS IN: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., on Chicago radio, asked who's greater between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, said: "I would say LeBron James." There you have it! Settled once and for all!

MARLINS CONTINUE NOT STINKING: The Fish lost last night but still a heady 14-10 since May 31. The team credits our mocking Sad-O-Meter, which only appeared here when their winning percentage was below .300, for inspiring the recent surge. OK, no they don't. But wouldn't it be neat if they did!

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June 25, 2013

Giancarlo Stanton gets nude!; plus let Heat enjoy this; also, Aaron Hernandez, still a football town?, Serena v. Maria, not-terrible Marlins & more

1aa1ljsi1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26. LeBron James is on cover of the newest Sports Illustrated, pictured. Heat today exercised team option to keep Mario Chalmers for next season. Smart move. 2) One of my musical heroes, Mavis Staples, has a new album out called One True Vine. Look forward to picking it up. (Yes, I sometimes still buy CDs!) Follow on Twitter @Mavis_Staples. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-among-our- greatest-sports-accomnplishments poll, Paula Deen mess.

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Heat commemorative special section: It's out today in The Miami Herald and online, and my contribution is this column on how Dwyane Wade is the quiet cause of all this. It was Micky Arison's money, Pat Riley's gumption and LeBron James' talent ... but first it was Wade's willingness and sacrifice.

GREEK GOD-LIKE GIANCARLO STANTON GOES COMMANDO FOR ESPN 'BODY' ISSUE: It hits newsstands July 12 and athletes who'll be naked but artfully covered include Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton (pictured 1aa1gstantonright), 49ers QB Colin Kapernick, NBA'er John Wall, WNBA'er Swin Cash, tennis player John Isner, volleyballer Kerri Walsh-Jennings and (oh my) 77-year-old golfer Gary Player. Need to wrap my mind around that last one. I don't think even women married to 77-year-olds want to see them naked, 1aa1gstanton2but I may be wrong. Other athletes involved are NBA'er Kenneth Faried, the Mets' Matt Harvey, drag racer Courtney Force, 49er Vernon Davis, women's soccer's Sydney Leroux, golfer Carly Booth, NHL'er Joffrey Lupul, snowboarder Elena Hight, boxer Marlen Esparza, rock climbers Chris Sharma and Daila ojeda, UFC's Miesha Tate, motocross' Tarah Gieger and tennis player Agnieszka Radwanska. Stanton's spread might cause the most attention the Marlins have had all season. They should capitalize with a Stanton Night, in which the first 5,000 fans to show up nude get in free. Hopefully Stanton's photo shoot was a bit bit more creative and less ridiculous (if I can say that) than the previous Body Issue appearance of then-Marlin Hanley Ramirez. Although who among us hasn't ironed in the nude at some point?

ENOUGH! LET HEAT ENJOY WHAT THEY EARNED: Two recent slices of local media bothered me a little. The microscopic over-analysis was out even as South Florida threw itself a championship parade. Dan LeBatard on 790 The Ticket was playing psychologist by reading a newly defiant, angry, "how-do-you-like-me-now" attitude in the Heat in the wake of their second straight title. A jump-point was LeBron brandishing his championship trophy in one 1aa1jameslhand and Finals MVP trophy in the other in a showy manner. He also put out an Instagram video (click here) that showed him quite cocky. (Still from vid is pictured). I think we make too much of too little to see overriding arrogance here instead of guys just reveling. And, by the way, a bit of arrogance is probably justified, after all the turmoil and hatred this team went through in 2010-11. I have actually seen a fair amount of humility in this Heat team overall, especially in the way they lavished praise and respect upon the vanquished Spurs. In my own Miami Herald, there was a news story about LeBron being "noncommital" on his intentions beyond next season, when he'd be free to leave. The piece flew on this comment James made to CNN: "I don't know, because I haven't really even thought about it. So when that moment comes up, I will approach it like a professional  and we'll see what happens." How benign! What else should LeBron say? And yet the implication was that James being "noncommital" may bode darkly for Miami. Sure enough, LeBron came out a day later and said it would be the "ultimate finish" for the Big 3 to stay intact beyond next season. The over-analysis of this team takes no holiday.

Poll result: Hold on, Heat. Are we still a football town?: This gauge suggests so, anyway. I asked you to put the Heat's three championships including back-to-backers in context with Miami's other greatest team-sports feats, and you placed the Heat only third with 24.7 percent. The Dolphins' Perfect Season/1972-73 Super Bowls won with 40.3%, followed by UM's five football national championships with 31.3%. The Marlins' two World Series collected the remaining 3.7%.

WHILE WE WEREN'T WATCHING, THE MARLINS GOT PRETTY DECENT: The Fish still have the majors' worst record, yeah, but since May 31 (while we were all Heat-obsessed), they have been 13-9 to shower some of the stink and shame off themselves. They began a six-game homestand with a win last night, and with the local stage pretty much to themselves for a while, this would be a very good time to continue not stinking.

1aa1aaronhernPATRIOTS TIGHT END ARRESTED, LOSES BOTH ARMS: The arrested part is for sure. Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez, Dumbass Athlete, was taken into custody this morning and charged with murder. My speculation that Hernandez also has lost both arms is based entirely on this photographic evidence, which also indicates Aaron got fat. Oh, and the Pats just cut him. (Can you play tight end, Tebow? Just asking...)

Dumbass Athletes, continued: Mark Sanchez: I guess the phrase Nude Booty Dance about sums it up.

TENNIS CAT FIGHT!: I love this claws-out back and forth between tennis stars Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, who are pictured here in more amiable days. This is a hell of 1aa1amiableas lot meatier than that little Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia tiff but with not nearly the attention. Serena makes clear in a magazine piece that Maria is dating one of her ex's, and Maria fires back -- in a post-match news conference! -- by stating that Serena had a relationship with a man "that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids." And all of this in the midst of Wimbledon! The British tabloids haven't been this happy since those topless pics of Kate Middleton materialized.

YOUR 2014 STANLEY CUP ODDS RIGHT HERE: The confetti hasn't even fallen in Chicago yet after Blackhawks' win last night and already Bovada has rushed out 2014 odds for Lord Stanley's chalice. Leaders are Pittsburgh at 13-2, champ Chicago at 15-2 and Boston at 9-1. Your lovable Florida Panthers? Thirtieth of 30 at 100-1.

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June 23, 2013

It's Parade & Coronation Monday! Put Heat's run in context of Miami's greatest sports accomplishments. Poll. Vote!; plus Paula Deen & more, y'all

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 24. It's Championship Monday in Miami! 2) Click on Champions! Repeat, Champions! for my column off Heat's title-winning Game 7 triumph, and on Exhale, Appreciate for my most recent column. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win NBA championship, biggest Game 7 poll, Dolphins' future rank.

Follow us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Bunch of new pix and vids from Heat-Spurs Game 7.

1aa1kwest"Kanye West named his daughter North. If she grows up to marry the grandson of singer Joe South and they are photographed at a religious sunrise service, the caption would read: North West-South at Easter." -- Greg Cote

WHAT IS OUR BIGGEST, PROUDEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN MIAMI SPORTS?: We are in the moment right now, surrounded by confetti. The Heat's Game 7 championship win still pulses in our minds as we prepare for Monday's celebratory parade. It's all LeBronLeBronLeBron today and that's fine. But it has struck an odd 1aa1dols 1aa1marlinswschord with me when I have read and heard it said so casually and certainly over the past several days that the Heat have given us the greatest feeling we have ever had in local sports. As if that were not debatable. I hear that said and I assume those saying it were not around in the the winters of 1972 and '73 when the Dolphins were capital-P Perfect and back-to-back Super Bowl champs back when football defined us. Or maybe we have too quickly forgotten what those two Marlins World Series championships felt like. Or perhaps we don't recall what 1aa1heatJan. 2, 1984 in the Orange Bowl meant, when the Miami Hurricanes began their 1aa1canesntrun of dominance in college football. Celebrate the Heat; they deserve every bit of it. But don't dismiss all of the wonderful feelings that preceded them. The Heat, after all, did not invent the Miami championship parade. We ran a similar poll once before, a good while back. The timing is right to reprise it. OK, your turn. What have been our two biggest or proudest major team-sports accomplishments to this point? Step back from the moment and see the question from the broadest view and largest context. I offer the four obvious choices. Pick the top two. Vote now and say why.


PAULA DEEN'S IN SOME TROUBLE, Y'ALL: Food Network has dumped Southern-fried cook Paula Deen after it 1aa1deenp2was learned, via a deposition she gave, that her use of the N-word seems rather casual, y'all. Paula previously had been seen as disingenuous only when it was learned she was a diabetic yet had been pimping some of the unhealthiest recipes on TV. Predictably her fans have rallied, threatening a boycott of the Food Network unless she is reinstated. Hey, she might be prejudiced or whatever but her food is yummy, y'all! Paula's future is difficult to predict. Do not write her off. Martha Stewart survived jail time, did she not, y'all?

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June 20, 2013

CHAMPIONS! AGAIN! LeBron leads Heat past Spurs for repeat NBA title; Parade scheduled 11 a.m. Monday



1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 22. It's Championship Saturday in Miami! Watch for a new blogpost by Sunday morning. 2) Was stunned to hear about James Gandolfini dying at age 51. R.I.P. Owned every scene in The Sopranos. So sad. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat G6 win, Heat poll, Craig Sager Bobbleheads, Sad-O-Meter.

Follow us on TWITTER @gregcote and INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird and VINE @ Greg Cote. Bunch of new pix and vids from Heat-Spurs Game 7.

Click on Champions! Repeat, Champions! for my column off the title-winning Game 7 triumph by Heat. And click on Exhale, Appreciate for today's follow column.

Bulletin: LeBron James abruptly retires!: This was reported by The Onion, which of course famously makes s--- up. Click here for the frivolity. 

1aa1finals7FINALS G7: HEAT 95, SPURS 88: LEBRON'S 37 LIFT MIAMI TO SECOND STRAIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP!: LeBron 37 points, Dwyane Wade 23, Shane Battier six 3's off the bench, tenacious defense -- it was a championship formula for the Heat here Thursday night in Game 7. See just above for link to my column off the game. ..... Original post: Forget the confines of just sports. This is a huge, huge night for Miami, period. For South Florida and anbody who cares about it. 1aa1final72You needn't be a sports fan to have allowed yourself to get caught up in this and feel the civic pride of it all. Heat vs. San Antonio. Game 7. Winner take all. Somebody celebrates on the court tonight. The only question is how loud it will be at that moment inside and outside the arena. Everything has been said. All that's left now if for the Heat and this Big 3 era to stake its claim to a dynasty or to endure the rest of the country labeling this whole thing a failure. That is the harsh reality. Not much gray in those extremes. So... LeBron James. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. How big are you feeling? How high is your reach? Let's all find out together.

WAS LAST NIGHT BIGGER THAN MARLINS' '97 WORLD SERIES GAME 7?: Heat-Spurs last night marked the ninth Game 7 home game for the Heat, Marlins or Panthers, but only the second that was winner-take-all for the championship. The only other one of those ultimate Game 7's was Marlins vs. Indians for the '97 World Series title. It was historic, a vivid night in Miami history, not just sports. Remember, we loved the Marlins back then. They were shiny and new. I think this poll should be a close vote, but I'm not at all sure it will be. There was a just-happy-to-be-there element in '97, with the fifth-year Marlins. There is more gravity attached to the 2013 Heat, a team that can less afford to lose. But you'll define what constitutes a "bigger" Game 7 by however you wish. My only requests: Don't let any current animus against the Marlins seep into your consideration, OK? Now vote and say why.

On Heat fans who left early: Two things. First: Y'all have every right to show up late or leave early if you wish. You bought the ticket. It's your life. You want to beat the crowd by leaving with a minute left in a close, thrilling Game 6 that means everything? See ya! Second: But then don't bitch and moan if you walked out on a miracle comeback and missed overtime because the arena rules cleary state there is no return-entry. Once you leave, you're done. No sympathy here -- zee-ro -- for the early leavers who got locked out. The national media reaction was predictably overboard. What those fans did was neither embarrassing nor outrageous; they were a miniscule sliver of the overall crowd. Move on.

Poll result: Confidence in Heat winning two straight tops 70 percent: We asked this before Game 6 -- would Miami win two in a row and the title? -- and the "yes" vote dominated with 70.5 percent. It would have been higher, but the second-most votes came from Texas (7.6% of the total), where 73.9 percent voted "no."

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR DOLPHINS' "FUTURE RANK": ESPN ranks the 32 NFL teams based on where they'll be in 2016 based on current roster, QB situation, 2013 draft, coaching and front office. the top five are 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, Ravens and (still!) Patriots. Miami is ranked 20th, a spot suggesting more mediocrity, not a leap into imminent playoff status. The good news? The other two AFC East-ers rank 29th (Bills) and dead-last (Stinkin' Jets).

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June 18, 2013

Finals G6: Heat 103, Spurs 100 (OT): Survival! Miami forces a Thursday Game 7; plus will Heat win 2 straight and title? Poll. Vote!; also more Heat & other stuff

1aa1crawfordj1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 19. I thought Uncle Fester I mean Joey Crawford (both pictured) did a fair job as referee last night. 2) Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on to talk Heat today. 3) Bengals on Hard Knocks is further proof that series is struggling for teams to participate. People in Cincinnati are barely interested in the Bengals. 4)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat G5 loss, Faith Healers, NCAA/UM mess, Miguel Olivo, Sad-O-Meter.

Blog held hostage: Almost, folks. We've been mighty Heat-intensive as you'd expect throughout this playoff run, with no apologies. But right after the championship parade as soon as this thing ends, one way or the other, we'll be back to more of a smorgasbord format. Patience.

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My column off the game: Click on Survival for the full column, which did not make all Broward editions of the print edition because of deadline. Simply one of the great, big nights in Miami sports history.

FINALS G6: HEAT 103, SPURS 100 (OT): LEBRON'S 32, LATE HEROICS SAVE MIAMI: Wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW! NO matter how long I've been doing this, some things still amaze me. Miami trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter. Everything was slipping. The NBA discreetly was readying the postgame championship ceremony for San Antonio. And then? LeBron James. He took over. Scored 18 from the fourth quarter on, ended with a triple double and saved Miami's repeat-championship hopes, saved the notion of a dynasty -- saved everything. Now all they have to do is do it all over again Thursday. "Best two words in team sports," said coach Erik Spoelstra. "Game 7." Those are the two best words from Miami's vantage right now. For the dejected Spurs, not so much. Link to my column off the game is just above. ..... Original post: 1) Heat must use the crowd for a high-energy fast start. Dwyane Wade has lamented how Miami tends to start off slow; he's right. 2) A 1aa1heatspursgreat and efficient game from LeBron James. He shot 56.5% during the season but it's 43.6% in the Finals. And if you take away his 1aa1g6superb Game 4 it's 38.1%. Miami needs LeBron back to his normal (dominant) self. 3) Wade and Bosh must continue to complete a big Big 3 as they've down lately. 4) Better point-guard play. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are slumping simultaneously. Stop that! 5) Back to Birdman! Whether Mike Miller starts again or they go back to Udonis Haslem is not as important, to me, as significant doses of Chris Andersen off the bench. Miami remains a betting favorite (see below), even though only three previous times since the 2-3-2 Finals format began in 1985 has a team trailed 3-2 and won two straight at home as Miami must now do. Those were the 1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets and 2010 Lakers.

WILL THE HEAT DO IT?: Yeah I know, this is another poll predisposed to be Miami-friendly given its place in a MiamiHerald.com blog. But we also know from experience that about half of all votes in our polls come from outside of Florida and that the last time we did a Heat-Spurs poll a huge number rolled in from Texas. Besides, our readers have always been pretty good about voting what they really think more than what they hope. You are challenged again. Will the Heat win two in a row and a repeat championship? Vote now and say why.

Heat still a betting favorite for crown: Despite trailing 3-2 in the Finals Miami still is a 4-5 betting favorite via Bovada, with San Antonio at 21-20. MVP odds entering Game 6 are LeBron James 4-5, Danny Green 2-1, Tony Parker 5-1, Tim Duncan 10-1 and Dwyane Wade 15-1.

1aa1craigsCRAIG SAGER BOBBLEHEADS: The minor-league Fort Myers Miracle are planning a Craig Sager Bobblehead Night on June 29, with a scheduled appearance by the sartorially ghastly broadcaster himself. This is a blog. Could I say it if it weren't true?

SAD-O-METER BACK IN HIBERNATION: Marlins have won two in a row -- see, Heat, it isn't that hard! -- and six of past 10 to vault to a .319 winning percentage. The Sad-O-Meter will return if and when the Marlins fall back below 300.

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June 15, 2013

Finals G5: Spurs 114, Heat 104: Miami must now win two in a row at home to repeat as champs; also, Miguel Olivo, NCAA clowns, Sad-O-Meter back & more

1) It is TUESDAY, JUNE 18. Watch for a new Heat-Spurs Game 6 blogpost very soon. 2) Congrats to the Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau, the club's first-ever NHL rookie of the year. 3) Thanks for NBC Sports national radio for having us on again to talk Heat. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 4 win, Dolphins poll result, Marlins Sad-O-Meter.

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New column from San Antonio and Game 5 Heat loss: Click on It Don't Come Easy for my latest column, on the job  Miami has left itself with a 3-2 series deficit.

FINALS G5: SPURS 114, HEAT 104: POOR SHOOTING, BAD DEFENSE PUSH MIAMI'S BACK TO WALL: Heat shot only 43 percent Sunday night in the Game 5 loss but giving up 114 points and 60 percent shooting to the Spurs was worse. Can't blame the Big 3, which combined for 66 points. And Ray Allen had 21 off the bench. Miami simply must play more tenacious defense, especially against Danny Green, whom they have allowed to score an NBA Finals-record 25 3-point baskets in five games. Heat now have gone 12 consecutive playoff games this year without back-to-back wins. But they won't repeat as champs unless they end that slump and win the next two at home. Winning Sunday could have made things so much easier. But what fun is easy, right? Watch for my column from San Antonio off tonight's loss online. ..... Original post: Strange, isn't? This Heat team won a club-record 66 games including 27 in a row but the question attached to Miami tonight is, "Can they 1aa1heatspurswin two in a row?" They haven't since the second round of this postseason, an 0-5 stretch after wins that has this NBA Finals 1aa1g5knotted 2-2. That must change if a repeat title is to happen, because if they don't win a second in a row in tonight's Game 5, they'd need to win two in a row back in Miami in Games 6-7. I still feel like the far greater pressure is on San Antonio tonight. In a 2-2 Finals, Game 5 winners have won the title 20 of 27 times, and that likelihood would be even greater for a Miami team with two straight chances at home. Miami is expected to continue its small-ball starting lineup with Mike Miller in place of Udonis Haslem. All breakdowns of analytics show Miami is better when Chris Bosh (or Birdman Andersen or Haslem) is the only "big" on the floor. That stretches the Spurs' defense and provides space for LeBron and D-Wade. Should be an emotional night in central Texas, as San Antonians might be seeing their own Big 3 on the home floor for the last time. The Heat need to send them home quiet to lock down another championship.

FOR HEAT'S BIG 3, GAME 4 WAS ABOUT RESTORING FAITH: It wasn't the how as much as the 1aa1big3 who that restored so much faith in that Finals-tying Game 4 win the other night. The Heat's Big 3 collectively -- and LeBron James, 1aa1big32Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh individually -- hadn't been themselves much of this postseason. Doubts crept in. But Thursday they made all of that go away. Thursday the Big 3 were exactly what we were cheering in that arena celebration three summers ago: Dominance. Not one, not two, but three stars, all aligned. They must be that twice more for Miami to repeat as champs, but I think everything changed with Game 4. Title likelihood swung back to Miami, and trust in the Big 3 blueprint was restored. I explore this fully in my Saturday column from San Antonio. Click Restoring Faith to read.

NCAA WILL COME OUT OF THIS PROTRACTED MESS LOOKING WORSE THAN CANES: So the NCAA infractions committee hearings on the UM/Nevin Shapiro case are finished and now we wait six weeks 1aa1ncaafor the verdict on possible additional lpunishments, and then likely more time as Miami appeals the decision. The question now: Which will end first? This saga that has already dragged on more than three years, or Shapiro's prison senetnec? (He's serving 20 years). I am as convinced as ever that the NCAA, with the bungled, corrupted investigation by its enforcement wing, will come out of this with its reputation damaged far more irreparably than The U's. (I took this photo of NCAA headquarters while in Indianapolis for the Heat-Pacers series. Based on recent history, the side of the building should have had a giant red clown nose affixed to it).

1aa1molivoCATCHER OLIVO QUITS ON MARLINS: Speaking of clowns, catcher Miguel Olivo walks out on the Marlins in the middle of the national anthem. He was upset about lack of playing time and team had ignored his request for a release. Dude, you're 34 and hitting .203. What a punk move. Whatever "professionalism" means, this act was its antonym.

SAD-O-METER IS BACK! (BARELY...): We have this blog feature we update as long as Marlins' winning 1aa1bbsadpercentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. Well, after the briefest hiatus, and by the barest of margins, last night's loss brings us back! Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record 20-47, .299. Season projection: 48.36 wins, 113.64 losses.

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June 13, 2013

Finals G4: Heat 109, Spurs 93: Come on up for The Rising! Big 3 totals 85 points as Miami saves season, evens series 2-2; plus Dolphins, Marlins & more

1aa1billbbq1) It is FRIDAY, JUNE 14. Meal of the trip so far was lunch (right) at Bill Miller's BBQ, a cafeteria-style joint as unpretentious as its name, but a San Antonio legend. (At least to me). Green beans some of the best I've had. 2) Thanks to ESPN's Mike & Mike for having me on the radio. Did it at 6:45 a.m. in San Antonio. That's an ungodly hour. I looked out my hotel window while doing the show and saw the devil rummaging through a dumpster. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 3 loss, SI on UM/NCAA, Dolphins poll, Pats recycle Tebow, Shula No. 3, 'I Just Shipped My Pants.'

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Click on Welcome Back, Big 3 for my column from San Antonio off last night's Heat Game 4 victory.

FINALS G4: HEAT 109, SPURS 93: TOUR DE FORCE EFFORT FOR WADE, JAMES and BOSH: LeBron James 33 points, 11 rebounds. Dwyane Wade 32 points, 6 steals. Chris Bosh 20 points, 13 rebounds. Welcome back, Big 3. What an emphatic, tremendous performance in Game 4 by those three individually and as a troika. Redemption is theirs. They saved the season last night. A team never has overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a title; that was the mountain Miami avoided. Now it is assured this Finals will end back in Miami, on the Heat's home floor. See link directly above to my Game 4 column from San Antonio. ..... Original post: Bench Wade! Trade Bosh! How 'bout we try this first: Wake LeBron! Surprised the panic hasn't yet reached a level where somebody in the 

1aa1heatspursnational media is suggesting Pat Riley swoop in and take over for Erik Spoelstra. It's only a 2-1 series, folks. If Miami wins Game 4 tonight -- which seems likely, based on the Heat not 1aa1bronsupelosing consecutive games since Jan. 10 -- then an all-is-well calm will sweep once more across South Florida. If not, OK, then we panic. As I write in today's column (link is above), Miami needs its Big 3 to be big again, starting with LeBron. He wore a T-shirt cape-style yesterday (pictured), which had better be an omen, because Miami needs its Superman back. The league MVP is averaging 16.7 points on 38.9 percent shooting in the Finals. That cannot continue. James must assert himself offensively. And the time to do so is growing frightfully short. The Lakers' Metta World Peace said he thinks the Spurs are mentally stronger. He said, "I think LeBron and Bosh, they want it to be given to them. I don't think they're taking it upon themselves like a Jordan would have done." Ouch. As much as it pains me to lend credence to a man calling himself "Metta World Peace," the onus is on LeBron, Bosh (and Wade) to prove all the critics and doubters wrong, all over again. Tonight.

Poll results: Dolfans oddly optimistic: We asked how optimistic you are the Dolphins will be a playoff team this season, and a plurality of 46.1 percent voted "somewhat/60% chance." Another 30.4 percent voted "very/80%" and only 23.5 percent voted "marginal/40%." We call that oddly optimistic because 76.5 percent thinking playoffs does not jibe with the Vegas over/under of 7.5 on Miami wins. That isn't a playoff number.

RETURN OF SAD-O-METER!: We have this blog feature we update as long as Marlins' winning percentage is 1aa1bbsadunder .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. It had tipped up over .300 briefly, but last night's 10-1 loss to Milwaukee restores order. Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record, 19-46 (.292). Season projection, 47.35 wins, 114.65 losses.

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June 10, 2013

Finals G3: Spurs 113, Heat 77: Miami down 2-1 after worst playoff loss as LeBron admits, "I'm not doing my part"; plus SI's new UM/NCAA report, Dolphins, Tebow, ship-my-pants & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12. I'm no apologist for athlete misbehavior, but it feels like Chad Johnson just got a 30-day sentence for a pretty silly reason. 2) "No, I don't watch 'Game of Thrones,'" he said rather proudly. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 2 win, poll result, Marlins Sad-O-Meter.

TWITTER @gregcote INSTAGRAM @ upsetbird VINE @ Greg Cote

1aa1newsiNew SI report on UM, NCAA: Click HERE for the new Sports Illustrated special report on the Miami Hurricanes/Nevin Shapiro scandal now being deliberated by the NCAA. It is entitled, "The Hurricane That Blew Through Miami Flattens the NCAA." SI details how Shapiro used inside information to gamble, and also outlines the overriding ineptitude of the NCAA's handling of this case.

Click on Where Is LeBron's Offensive Game? for my column from San Antonio off last night's Heat loss.

FINALS G3: SPURS 113, HEAT 77: MIAMI IN 2-1 HOLE AS BIG 3 MANAGE ONLY 43 POINTS: A worst playoff loss in franchse history does not happen without an avalanche of bad stuff happening, and it did for Miami in San Antonio Tuesday night in a rout that has the Heat down 2 games to 1 entering Thursday night's Game 4. The Heat's defense allowed an NBA Finals-record 16 3-point baskets. Allowed two guys named Danny Green and Gary Neal to beat them. On the other end, LeBron James managed only 15 points on 7-for-21 shooting. Dwyane Wade (16) and Chris Bosh (12) also were below their season averages. Mario Chalmers followed a 19-point game with zero Tuesday. Honestly, other than Mike Miller going 5-for-5 on 3's, just about everybody and everything sucked for Miami. The Heat can bounce back Thursday -- it is what Miami does -- but, once again, the Big 3, and especially LeBron himself, simply must do more on the offensive end. Watch out for my Game 3 column from San Antonio. ..... Original post: Click on LeBron Good Even When He's Bad for my column off Miami's series-tying win. Tonight comes the first of three in San 1aa1heatspursAntonio, and Heat fans are longing for the days when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were good for a bankable 60-plus combined points. Wade and Bosh's below-average post-seasons offensively continue. Even LeBron has scored only 18 and 17 the first two games of the Finals. Somebody needs to break out. The pressure is most on Wade. Doesn't help that ESPN.com asks whether Miami would be better off using Wade as a sixth man, as the Spurs deploy Manu Ginobili. Bench Wade? I don't think you make that seismic move in an even Finals, coming off a big win. Major chemistry issues are in play. Miami must win at least one of the next three to stretch the series back to Miami, and can seize real control by taking two of the next three. Every game in a seven-game series is bigger than the last, tonight no exception.

DOLPHINS OFFSEASON POLL: IS THIS A PLAYOFF TEAM?: Dolphin stage a three-day mini-camp this week amid a general consensus that, between free agency and the draft, the offseason has been good to Miami. GM Jeff Ireland with rote optimism says he thinks the team has "closed the gap" on AFC East beast New England. There seems to be a disconnect, though. The 2013 Las Vegas over/under on Dolphins win is 7.5. That is not a playoff number. So which is it? Let's get an early pulse-read on optimism, Dolfans. It's only June but you have a sense of it, right? And I know that you'll once again answer the call to vote what you honestly feel right now, in the gut, not what you wish. Let's go!

PATS RECYCLE TIM TEBOW: New life breathes into Tim Tebow's formerly forlorn status as an out-of- 1aa1beltimwork, future-less NFL phenom by his signing today with none other than Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Since anything Belichick does is genius, that makes Tebow great again. (Right?) Wildcat redux? We'll see. Chances are Tebow will be waived by late summer and on the side of the road with his thumb out again, but, for now, the imprimatur of Belichick -- NFL devil, the pro Nick Saban -- means America's favorite Christian is baa-aaack!

SHULA: "WE'RE NO. 3! WE'RE...": ESPN's experts-panel list of all-time greatest NFL coaches slots Dolphins icon Don Shula No. 3. The top 10 is 10-Curly Lambeau, 9-Joe Gibbs, 8-Tom Landry, 7-Bill Belichick, 6-Paul Brown, 5-Chuck Noll, 4-George Halas, 3-Shula, 2-Bill Walsh and 1-Vince Lombardi. (Well, No.1 will be announced Tuesday, but if it isn't Lombardi I'll Prancercise from here to Green Bay). Also notable: Bill Parcells 11th, Jimmy Johnson 13th. I think Shula third is fair, although I'd bet it tweaks him being behind Walsh.

"I JUST SHIPPED MY PANTS!" (K MART HAS A BRILLIANT AD AGENCY): You could only get me into a K Mart at gunpoint, but I'd admit the discount retailer has hit twice in a row now with gone-viral advertising videos. Click on I Ship My Pants and Big Gas Savings to see. They are unbelievably low-brow and sophomoric. Why do you think I like them so much!? "Ship" here sounds like a variation ending with a 't' and "big gas" sounds like 'big ass' and it's intellectually dumb but an absolute hoot for 30 seconds.

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June 09, 2013

Finals G2: Heat 103, Spurs 84: Miami wins big, ties series 1-1, because even LeBron's bad games are good games; plus Heat poll result, Marlins & more

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 10. The Monday live blog chat remains on hiatus, today because we are off prior to our trip to San Antonio. Stay tuned for the chat's return. 2) Click Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes column, leading with the Heat-Spurs Finals and the toll it exacts on fans. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat Game 1 loss, LeBron on NBA 2K14, Heat confidence-level poll, Marlins win in 20, Serena wins French, List: Big 3 vs. Big 3.

TWITTER@gregcoteINSTAGRAM: upsetbird. VINE: Greg Cote.

Click on LeBron: He's Good Even When He Isn't for my column off Heat's Series-tying Game 2 win last night.

FINALS G2: HEAT 103, SPURS 84: BALANCED OFFENSE, BIG D LIFT MIAMI: Mario Chalmers as the leading scorer with 19 points is not the common Heat recipe for success, but it works when you have seven players with 9 or more points and you play terrific defense, forcing 17 Spurs turnovers and allowing only 41 percent shooting. It also works when Mike Miller and Ray Allen are popping three 3's each. And it works when the combo of this balanced offense and great D are fashioning a 33-5 second-half run. LeBron James had only eight points on 3-for-13 shooting entering the fourth quarter but still managed to end up with 17 and create the game's most memorable play -- his emphatic fourth-quarter block of Tiago Splitter's attempted dunk. We are constantly reminded how great Le Bron is. Here's the latest reminder: LeBron's so great, even his bad games are good. (Watch for my column off the game online). ..... Original post: Miami is 4-4 in it past eight playoff games and 0-1 in the Finals heading into Sunday night's Game 2 here. Something isn't right, and we don't need an arcane bog of analytics or sabermetrics here to figure out what it is. Break it down to three men and bottom-line numbers. 1) 1aa1boshwadeDwyane Wade's regular season to playoff averages have cascaded from 52.1% shooting and 21.2 points to 44.8% and 14.3 points. 2) Chris Bosh's numbers have tumbled from 53.5% and 16.6 points to 44.9% and 12.3 points. 3) Shane Battier's 3-point accuracy has fallen in half, from 43.0% to a startling 21.9%. He is 14-for-64, one postseaeson after leading the NBA with 42-for-110. Battier's icy fingers can be compensated for if Ray Allen or Mike Miller (who has taken his minutes) are hitting, but Wade and Bosh together (pictured) are 11.2 points per game off their season averages -- and that's huge. In a sport, at a time of year, where just a few points are the difference between wins and losses, championships and disappointment, that's huge. LeBron's season-to-playoffs numbers in those two categories also are slightly down -- 56.5% and 26.8 to 51.0% and 25.7 -- but he does so much overall that he is absolutely the last guy you'd target for doing too little. Overall, though, Miami's BIg 3 scoring average has lost 12.3 points from its season average, and that's been tough to overcome. Dwyane's right knee has troubled him and Bosh's ankle isn't perfect, but history won't care. If Miami fails to repeat, history will only note that LeBron didn't get enough help. The chances to set this right are growing small.

Poll result: Heat fans still confident but Texas votes skew overall numbers: We asked in previous blogpost how confident you are Heat still win win championship after a Game 1 home loss (you may still vote), and results were split. Slightly more than half remain confident ('very' 26.6%, 'fairly' 25.3%). Slightly less than half are less so ('not at all sure' 19.8%, 'not optimistic' 28.3%). However! A breakdown of votes is telling. More than half of votes have come from Florida and Texas, in that order. In Florida, the combined very/fairly confident vote is 70.1%. In Texas, those voting 'not at all sure' or 'not optimistic' (as if they were Heat fans) totaled 78.5%. No matter. Our blog knows no borders, and all are welcome. God Bless America!

UPDATED SAD-O-METER: MARLINS WIN IN EXTRAS AGAIN: We have this new blog feature we update as 1aa1bbhappylong as Marlins' winning percentage is under .300 -- as long as the New York Mets' infamous 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is within dubious reach. However, in honor of Saturday's 20-inning win and last night's in extras, both over the Mets, we have temporarily replaced our Sad Baseball Face with a happy face. Updated Sad-O-Meter: Current record, 18-44 (.290). Season projection, 47.03 wins, 114.97 losses.

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June 06, 2013

Finals G1: Spurs 92, Heat 88: Solid? Shaken? What is Heat fans' confidence now? Poll. Vote!; plus Marlins win in 20, Serena Williams & more

1aa1nba2k141) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 8. LeBron James finally has the one little career honor that had eluded him. He's on the cover of NBA 2K14 (pictured), his first time fronting that video game. Click here for the brief trailer promoting the Oct. 1 release. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Finals poll, Heat-Spurs betting odds, Biogenesis baseball scandal, UM football title chances, Marlins Sad-O-Meter.

TWITTER: @gregcote. INSTAGRAM: upsetbird. VINE: Greg Cote.

Click on Spurs Land First Punch for my column off Game 1 loss.

POLL: WHAT DOES A GAME 1 HOME LOSS DO TO A FAN'S CONFIDENCE?: Heat fans are wrestling with themselves, down 1-0 in these Finals, home-court advantage squandered. Is confidence unwavering and seeing this as a mere minor blip? Or is confidence shaken to a point Miami feels like the underdog now? Or is it somewhere in between? I wonder if fans can really even be honest with themselves. If one wants so badly for a Heat repeat-title, mustn't wishful thinking be part of any claim to continued supreme confidence. All of this is worth gauging today. So vote and say why you feel as you do. And vote honestly. If you can...

FINALS G1: SPURS 92, HEAT 88: MIAMI TIRES, SQUANDERS FOURTH-QUARTER LEAD: The Heat had five turnovers in the fourth quarter. San Antonio had four the entire game. You want a telling stats? There it is. LeBron and D-Wade both blamed the loss at least in part on physical condition, with Miami coming off a 7-game conference finals series and San Antonio with a week's more rest. "We were a little fatigued," said Wade of the late going. "We looked like a team coming off a seven-game series." James corroborated, saying, "I could see it in a few of our guys' faces." Well, get lots of rest the next two days, fellas. Game 2 Sunday. Look for my column off the Game 1 loss online. ..... Original post: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh vs. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Only 52 percent in an ESPN SportsNation poll say Miami's 1aa1finals13 1aa1big3miaBig 3 is better. (See a stats comparison in The List below). And, although Miami is favored by betting odds, 51% in that same national poll say San Antonio will win and 65% are rooting for the Spurs to win. All of this fine is fine if you're a Heat fan because you know your team tends to play very well when challenged 1aa1big3saor doubted. (In that spirit I would throw in that a landlside 86% called SA's Gregg Popovich a better coach than Erik Spoelstra. I too think Pops is a great coach, although we Gregs secretly resent Gregs who feel the need to add that second 'g' to the end of the name. It's uneccesary. It's haughty. It's like Tom calling himself 'Thom'. Where was I!?) There is a strain of thought that Indiana gave Miami a harder time than San Antonio will. That's false. Spurs are not as physical and don't rebound as well but are a better all-round team, especially offensively. How the Heat guard Parker (mostly with Mario Chalmers) will be as important as how Kawhi Leonard fares defending LeBron. The key, of course, will be Wade ansd Bosh performing better overall than they did most of the Eastern finals, and I think San Antonio presents a better matchup for that than did Indy. Finals prediction: Heat in 7.

Uh oh. Gamblers flocking to Spurs: This from Kevin Bradley, sports book manager for Bovada: "The fact that the Heat had to go to 7 games with the Pacers seems to have left a negative impression with our bettors who have been increasingly betting more on the Spurs for the Series." Bradley said 66 percent of the public is on the Spurs against the line, and that just over 60% of the money was on San Antonio plus-5 points in Game 1. "It is not often during the regular season we are fans of the Heat here at the book," Bradley said, "but during the playoffs they have given us some great results so far."

Poll result: Heat in six games (and in general): We admitted all along that a poll in a Miami Herald blog (you may still vote) naturally is skewed heavily toward the Heat, and sure enough 86.4 percent picked a Miami championship, with most (55.2%) calling it in six games. Votes rolled in from 44 states and 40 countries. Not surprisingly, after Florida, most votes came from Texas, where 59.5% overall picked the Spurs.

MARLINS WIN IN 20 INNINGS: Longest game in Marlins history. That's blog-worthy. Fish win at Mets today 2-1, in 20. Shouldn't that count as two wins? Marlins could use the help.

"U-S-A!" SERENA TAKES THE FRENCH: This morning in Paris Serena Williams dusted Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 to become the first American to win tennis' French Open since Serena herself did way back in 2002. A truly remarkable career adds another page.

THE LIST: BIG 3 VS. BIG 3: Miami's vs. San Antonio's based on regular-season and playoff averages for points, rebounds and assists entering The Finals:

MIAMI                    Regular-season           Playoffs

LeBron James        26.8 - 8.0 - 7.3           26.2 - 7.3 - 6.4 

Dwyane Wade        21.2 - 5.0 - 5.1           14.1 - 4.9 - 4.9

Chris Bosh             16.6 - 6.8 - 1.7           12.3 - 6.6 - 1.2

Totals                   64.6 - 19.8 - 14.1        52.6 - 18.8 - 12.5 

SAN ANTONIO        Regular-season            Playoffs

Tim Duncan           17.8 - 9.9 - 2.7           17.8 - 9.2 - 2.1 

Tony Parker           20.3 - 3.0 - 7.6           23.0 - 3.9 - 7.2

Manu Ginobili        11.8 - 3.4 - 4.6            11.5 - 4.5 - 5.4 

Totals                   49.9 - 16.3 - 14.9        52.3 - 17.6 - 14.7

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