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February 23, 2014

Monday p.m.: Rate Team USA's overall performance in Sochi Olympics. Poll. Vote now!; plus Dale Jr., LeBron's nose & more

1) It is MONDAY, FEBRUARY 24. Click on Random Evidence for the latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with contrast between regal Heat and embarrassed Dolphins. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): The Joe Philbin Support Group, LeBron/Space Jam 2, Kim Bokamper, Bane James, Olympic nerd dancing & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

TIME TO RATE TEAM USA'S OVERALL PERFORMANCE IN SOCHI: The Winter Olympics in Sochi wrapped up with the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, and the final scorecard shows host Russia the winner for most gold medals (13) and overall medals (33), with the United States second 1aa1ateamusaoverall (28 medals) but only fourth in golds (9). Is that good enough? I have a sense Team USA had an overall disappointing Games, but that's arguable, and I may be wrong. There were wild ups and downs. Six of the nine U.S. golds were in X Games-styled halfpipe or slopestyle events, even as the king of that genre, Shaun White, went medal-less. Two other golds were in Alpine skiing and one in figure skating (dance). But hockey and speedskating were big disappointments. What for you was the most memorable thing about these Olympics other than Bob Costas' pinkeye? And how do you think Team USA did overall based on expectations? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

DALE JR. WINS, NASCAR CELEBRATES: NASCAR can't admit it, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the Daytona 1aa1ajunior500 on Sunday to open the racing season had to have league officials high-fiving inside their soundproof suites. Junior, the most popular driver with fans year after year, ended a 55-race drought spanning two years, and that's good for the business of NASCAR. Earnhardt, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are still the big-four drivers to casual fans, and none bigger than Junior. Earnhardt is to his sport what Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the hunt are to the PGA Tour. There is no substitute.

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LEBRON'S NOSE PLOTS COMEBACK:
Heat hosted (and beat) Chicago Sunday in its first home game in 20 days, and LeBron James sat out after having surgery on his broken nose Friday and missing Saturday's practice. It takes an act of Congress to keep LeBron out of a game, but I thought he'd skip yesterday and it was smart he did. Expect him back Thursday night here vs. Knicks.

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