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June 07, 2014

LeBron on burden he bears, plus other Saturday Heat mega-notes; also 3-pack from San Antonio, Crampgate poll result, California Chrome & more

1) It is SATURDAY, JUNE 7. Thoughts with Tracy Morgan, the comedian seriously injured in an auto accident. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Spurs Finals Game 1 report and video, A.C./cramps poll, MVP standings, NFL concussion result & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

California Chrome falls short of Triple Crown; owner fumes: Damn. Still no Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. Tonality wins the Belmont Stakes today and California Chrome's run at history ends in a fifth-place finish. Chrome got pushed to the outside and did not have a closing kick in the longer race. Afterward Chrome's owner Steve Coburn blasted the Triple Crown format that allows a rested horse like Tonality -- who ran in neither the Kentucky Derby nor Preakness -- to swoop into the Belmont. Coburn angrily called Tonality's victory "the coward's way out." Classless? Sour grapes? Maybe. But Cobrun has a point, too. It would be a level field of only horses running in the Kentucky Derby were eligible for the following two race and a Triple Crown shot.

HEAT STUFF FROM TODAY'S SESSION IN SAN ANTONIO THAT INTERESTED ME:

1aa1aredoct(*) LeBron James warmed up on the court wearing Nike Air Yeezy 2s -- Red Octobers, pictured -- the Kanye West-designed sneakers worth $4,000 and up if you're not LeBron and get them for free.

(*) Check me out on Vine for a new video on Dwyane Wade asking the last question of LeBron in today's media session.

(*) LeBron yesterday called himself "the easiest target in sports" in reaction to being made fun of on social media for his cramps. Today he expounded: "I don't think it, I know it," he said of that burden. "Cameras been in front of me since I was 15, since everything from being an adolescent, kind of going to the top and falling from the mountain and going back on top again. Half of my life I've been in front of this. That makes me an easy target."

(*) LeBron on his post-cramps health: I'm doing well. Doing a lot better. The soreness is starting to get out."

(*) Erik Spoelstra on the review of the tape of Thursday's loss: "A lot of carnage to go through in that film."

(*) Snapshot from the practice gym. On a bench in the far corner: Micky Arison, Pat Riley and Spoelstra. Oh to have bugged that bench!

(*) Wade, a Chicagoan, on the impact on him of Michael Jordan's first Bulls championship: "I was 9 years old, and that's when I feel in love with basketball. After that I was in the  backyard, in the cold, trying to emulate M.J."

(*) Wade on the team's mindset down 1-0 entering Sunday's Game 2: "We're not uptight, we're not overly loose. We're focused." 

A SATURDAY HEAT THREE-PACK...

1. DEFENDING LEBRON FROM THE TWITTIDIOTS: I love that former Dolphins wimp Jonathan Martin 1aa1acramps(of all people) was among those piling on LeBron James on Twitter for his cramps in Game 1, with 'C'mon, bruh. Drink a Gatorade and get out there.' James in general was savaged, with America seemingly oozing out of the woodwork to criticize James when given any opportunity. I address the phenomenon and defend James in today's latest column from San Antonio; click Iron Man to read. I note why James is about the last player in sports whose toughness or durability should be doubted or questioned. For example, in his career, he has started all 154 playoff games and 996 of 1,040 games overall, or 96 percent, a remarkable record of dependability beyond the excellence thet gets more celebrated.

2. HEAT TOPS IN NATIONAL POLL: The Miami Heat have overtaken the Los Angeles Lakers as America's favorite NBA team, in the latest annual poll by ESPN. The Heat are sixth 1aa1aheatlesoverall among favorite U.S. sports teams, after the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, New York Yankees and Denver Broncos. Also, interesting South Florida-market television ratings, via colleague Barry "TV" Jackson, verify Heat's popularity relative to Dolphins. Game 1 of the Finals Thursday drew a 30.5 rating in Miami/Fort Lauderdale, after Heat-Pacers series averaged 23.4. Dolphins regular-season games last year averaged 17.1. In fairness, a Dolphins playoff game rating likely would top 30, but that would require the Dolphins actually, you know, making the playoffs.

3. WADE'S PUBLIC ADVICE FOR SPOELSTRA: Dwyane Wade yesterday publicly admonished coach Erik Spoelstra to play 1aa1adwademore guys in Game 2, partly blaming "mental and physical fatigue down the stretch" for Thursday's loss. "We've got to go a little deeper into our bench, keep guys fresher," Wade said. He likely had in mind Udonis Haslem, who did not play at all in Game 1. James Jones and Toney Douglas did not play, either. At the least, look for a role for Haslem on Sunday. LeBron on Saturday backed up Wade, saying, "Toney,. J.J. and U.D. could have got some minutes to take the load off the rest of us."  

Poll results: Conditions, cramps likely cost Heat Game 1 win: We asked in previous blogpost (you may still vote), and a plurality of 44.2 percent said the lack of arena air-conditioning that led to LeBron James' cramps cost Miami a win Thursday night, while 14.9% said "perhaps" it did. The other 40.9% said no to the premise.

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