February 18, 2015

Who is on your Mount Rushmore of all-time NFL quarterbacks? 12 choices, you pick 4. Vote now!; plus Westminster dog show, Lesley Gore, Tiger verdict, 'Back In My Day' & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Tiger Woods poll, pro-rating South Florida's all-time pro coaches, Heat career ASG scorers, saving the newspaper industry & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

WHO SHOULD BE ON MOUNT RUSHMORE OF ALL-TIME NFL QUARTERBACKS?: Every once in a while we 1aa1amountrlike to do a 'Mount Rushmore' poll mainly to annoy WQAM radio host and friend Marc Hochman, who thinks he invented the time-worn idea. We got this idea from NFL.com, which had the discussion earlier this week -- just the latest entity to steal Hoch's un-patented gem. We culled the ballot to 12 finalists who appear here alphabetically. No category for "other," but let us know in a Comment if we've egregiously omitted anybody deserving. You know what Mount Rushmore means, so vote for your top four (4) guys. Go!

Vote For Top Four (4)

Poll result: Mixed results, but mostly support for Tiger Woods: We asked how you feel about Tiger Woods and it was 43.3 percent liking/rooting for him, 38.0% not liking or supporting him and 18.7% neutral or disinterested.

BEAGLE WINS WESTMINSTER 'BEST IN SHOW': Miss P, an adorable 4-year-old Beagle from British 1aa1abeagleColumbia pictured right, won Best In Show last night at the prestigious annual Westminster Kennel Club pageant in New York City. (It was so good to see a winner and hear cheering in a full Madison Square Garden, a building rendered a fetid mausoleum by the Knicks). Controversy ensued, though. Random Evidence cannot 1aa1apoodlestandardconfirm but has heard that the owners of the Standard Poodle pictured at left are being sued for pet abuse and mental torture for inflicting the dog with the embarrassing haircut shown. "As if my name, 'Princess Precious," isn't bad enough, you try walking around looking like this," said the angry canine. "People stare. Other dogs taunt and bully. Even cats laugh at me. It's [bleep]ing humiliating!"

SEEING RACISM WHERE IT ISN'T: Yesterday on the Dan LeBatard Show (The Ticket Miami, ESPN Radio) my Tuesday "Back In My Day" segment excoriated athletes who complain about having to deal with the 1aa1aBIMDmedia. Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant were examples I used, not even considering that both are black and that I'd better toss in a white guy for balance. Mentioned Lynch and Durant as the two most prominent, recent examples, which I thought obvious. But because the rant was critical and questioned the general intelligence of athletes who grow up chasing sports more than an education, a few texters to the show and Tweeters to me heard the rant as racist. Man, that's listening so hard you aren't hearing. So if I said the same thing but with a fleeting reference to Bode Miller I'm OK on the Racism Sensitivity Scale? Sorry, but I can't be that politically correct.

PIECES OF CHILDHOOD KEEP FALLING AWAY: I never considered myself a Lesley Gore fan. I thought she was someone whose fans were girls. Besides, when she hit big in 1963 with "It's My Party," my interest in music was just beginning to awaken. But I cared enough to read the obituary when I found out this week Gore had died at age 68. Maybe subliminally, but her first big hit was a part of my early childood's background noise, her death making the sound an echo fading my degrees.


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February 11, 2015

Marlins All-Star Game in historical context; plus LeBron's grand plan, Kiper's new Dolphins pick, bad news for Al Golden, Chicago's cheaters?, Brian Williams/Jon Stewart, armed goats & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot-Seat Index coaching poll, SI swimsuits, J-Law's snake, Marlins unis, 2015 college football rankings & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

LeBron's grand plan: LeBron James reveals in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter his grand plan including a future in movies and his dream of building a Hollywood empire. Click here for the story and related video. Must-read for LBJ fans. 

'Back In My Day': Many of you on Twitter and in emails ask for links to the "Back In My Day" segments I do Tuesdays on the Dan Le Batard Show. I have done 17. Click on BIMD Volume 1 for episodes 1 through 10 (which originally appeared in the blog on Dec. 11). I'll have a link to the most recent episodes soon.

"I liked Beck before it was cool." --Greg Cote

1aa1afishlogoMARLINS ALL-STAR GAME IS FIFTH FOR SOUTH FLORIDA: The Marlins will be hosting their first MLB All-Star Game in 2017, a direct result of the new stadium that so many complained about but that will prove a positive for generations to come. Getting this game is a big deal, and it's about time. Baseball's annual
showcase is far superior to the other sports'. Giancarlo Stanton in the Home-Run Derby seems a given. But Miami sports historians like myself know this Marlins first actually will be the fifth major (Big Four sport) professional all-star game in South Florida. The list, chronologically:

All-Star Game               Date                    Site

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 20, 1975       Orange Bowl

NBA All-Star Game        Feb. 11, 1990       Miami Arena

NHL All-Star Game        Feb. 2, 2003        Office Depot Center, Sunrise 

NFL Pro Bowl                Jan. 31, 2010       Sun Life Stadium, Miami

MLB All-Star Game        TBD, 2017            Marlins Park

KIPER APES MCSHAY ON FINS PICK: Dueling ESPN mock drafters Mel Kiper (pictured) and Todd McShay need to get together and fake some variety. Kiper in his new Mock 2.0 out today has Jameis Winston No. 1 1aa1akipermeloverall to Tampa Bay, Marcus Mariota No. 6 to the Stinkin' Jets and Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes No. 14 to Miami -- just like McShay did last week. Kiper on Waynes: "Dolphins need to add some effective youth at cornerback, and Waynes is a well-coached cover man with the versatility to help in both man and zone and brings a physical presence. He's effective taking on big receivers and will also not shy away from tackling and setting the edge as a run-defender. If you're going on pure upside, Marcus Peters (Washington) could gain a slight edge, but Waynes gets the nod for reliability. The Combine can shift perceptions at this position, but I think Waynes is a safe bet to be one of the top two corners taken and it's a need area for the Dolphins, who need more playmakers in their secondary."

Poll result: It's Golden over Philbin for the coaching hot seat: We asked who among So Fla's Big Six coaches should lead the Hot-Seat Index, and UM football coach Al Golden swamped the Dolphins' Joe Philbin by 65.9 percent to 32.4%. We figured a two-man race and man was it! Heat's Erik Spolestra, Marlins' Mike Redmond, UM hoops' Jim Larranaga and Panthers' Gerard Gallant combined for a scant 1.7%.

ON BRIAN WILLIAMS, JON STEWART: NBC suspends Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for six months 1aa1abrianwmswithout pay for the truth-fudging that has spawned a million Internet lampoons like the photo pictured. I get the punishment. U.S. presidents and network news anchors -- aren't those the folks you sort of want to trust most? I wonder if in six months Williams will return as if nothing happened or just sort of fade into shamed retirement. Elsewhere on the dial, Jon Stewart is leaving Comedy Central's The Daily Show, a major loss for hilarious, razor-edgy political commentary. I think Stewart is brilliant, by which I mean he shares my take on just about everything arising from today's headlines.

LITTLE LEAGUE A LITTLE TOO LATE WITH ITS DISCIPLINE: So Little League Baseball strips the U.S. championship from the Chicago team (Jackie Robinson West) that won it in the 2014 LL World Series by, we now are told, supposedly fudging boundary lines to improperly build a superteam. Two adults involved have been supposed for actions that spoils the heart-warming story of the first African-American team to reign. Better late than never on the discipline, I suppose, but Little League's due diligence on boundaries and birth certificates needs to come before a tournament not afterward. This story bears further examination. As it was the Chicago team's triumph was overshadowed, anyway, by the Sports Illustrated cover-spawning mania over the Philadelphia girl pitcher, Mo'Ne Davis.

1aa1agoatswithguns"DEAR GREG...": "I have heard rumors that a sect of anti-government separatists in the Deep South has formed a militia made up entirely of armed goats trained to perform as soldiers. Can this possibly be true?" Dear Reader: I find that almost impossible to believe, but I'll check into it and get back to you.

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January 28, 2015

SB Smirk II: Gronk's buttchecks, which may be an upgrade from deflated balls; plus Dan Marino, GoDaddy's Puppygate, greatest-Super Bowl-in-Miami poll, Marlins farm system & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk debut, Marshawn Lynch poll, God press-conference video & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adanmarinoSI piece on Marino: Sports Illustrated has a lengthy new piece on Dan Marino (read it here) as part of a celebration of the sports year 1985 (which began with a Dolphins Super Bowl loss to the 49ers). Marino is pictured circa that era. I'm among the folks who were interviewed and are quoted in the story, but it's worth reading, anyway.

"Calm your asses down!" --Ex-Hurricanes great Michael Irvin, to perpetually dissatisfied, griping UM football fans.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK II: GRONK'S BUTTCHEEKS, AN UPGRADE FROM DEFLATED BALLS, AT LEAST: 1aa1agronkingToday's second of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns
leads with Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski enlivening Media Day with a 1aa1afirereading from a new erotic novel about him (pictured right) called, "A Gronking to Remember" (subtitle: "It was a passion that could not be 1aa1akimkspiked"), by author Lacey Noonan. The passage Gronk read included the word "buttcheeks." (Tight end, indeed!) The X-rated "novel" is 66 pages long and, unfortunately, is the first in a planned series. Click on Smirk II for the full column. Also included: A fire alarm, a prediction, Jay Glazer, a woman in Hungary, Kim Kardashian (pictured left), Roman numerals, ticket prices and a Radio Row brawl. [Previously: Smirk I].

SMIRK II POLL: WHAT HAS BEEN BEST/MOST MEMORABLE SUPER BOWL PLAYED IN MIAMI?: We list all 10 in the poll, chronologically, with the game's MVP in parentheses to give you a one-word memory jog. You tell history which game should rank as the best or most memorable of all the SB 305s:

Smirk I Poll result: Sharp divide on Marshawn Lynch: We asked in the previous blogpost your impression of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch (the person, not the player), and it was 52.2 percent favorable, 47.8% unfavorable.

GODADDY PULLS SUPER BOWL AD AFTER OUTRAGE: GoDaddy, the website-building company pimped by Danica Patrick and no stranger to controversial ads, has pulled its planned Super Bowl commercial after an online preview sparked a backlash. The ad, entitled "Journey Home," features a lost puppy named Buddy who find his way home only to be quickly sold by his owner. Awwww. Folks, the puppy is JUST AN ACTOR! Anyway, enjoy. Or, be outraged:


RANKING MARLINS' FARM SYSTEM: ESPN's Keith Law ranks all 30 MLB farm systems and slots Miami's 24th. His description: "Their system rarely ranks high because they promote players to big league roles so quickly, but there's a solid group of very young arms in the system that will be on the list for a while, as well as a teenage position player or two with some real upside. There's very little in near-term talent here, however.". Elsewhere in NL East, Mets' farm is ranked fourth, Braves sixth, Nationals ninth and Phillies 25th.

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August 21, 2014

Time for baseball to reinstate Pete Rose. Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus lions fight crocodile (video), your verdict on Stanton & more

1aa1acroc1) It is FRIDAY, AUGUST 21. Happy birthday (of undisclosed numeral) to my best friend and wife, and also a happy 75th to my boyhood idol, Carl Yastrzemski. 2) I told y'all SI Jinx would crush Mo'Ne Davis! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ways Marlins can keep Stanton with poll, Manziel's bird, Mo'Ne's jinx, Allen's home, Dear Greg, Stitches & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Stanton, Yelich pitch-count leaders: Via baseball stats maven BIll Chuck: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is best first-pitch hitter in MLB this season, with a .548 average when count is 0-0. Teammate Christian Yelich leads majors at .533 when count is 1-1.

TIME TO REINSTATE PETE ROSE AND LET HIM ON HALL BALLOT: I have a new column on this online and in today's/Friday's print editions (front page is below right); click Bring Pete Home to read in full. I got a jump on it here as a sort of special 1aa1arose2h'orsdouvre 1aa1arose1for our blog readers. This week marks the 25th anniversary of Pete Rose's banishment-for-life from baseball for gambling; he bet on his team, the Reds, while a manager. Now he's 73, and still in purgatory. I say it's time -- with a new commissioner taking office in January -- for MLB to reinstate Rose and in turn allow him on the Hall of Fame ballot. He has done more than enough time to fit the crime. ESPN had an unremarkable Outside The Lines special on this last evening. The most memorable thing in it was outgoing commissioner Bud Selig, asked why he has not acted on Rose's appeal for reinstatement, calling it "under 1aa1aproseadvisement." The appeal was 17 years ago! (Take your time, Bud...) Rose is pictured at left back in the day and at right looking all curmudgeonly on the OTL show. Rose is not likeable to many; quite the opposite, but even the irascible deserve a second chance. No team will hire Rose for anything meaningful at his age, with his past, so, realistically, reinstatement would be limited to ceremonial stuff like allowing him to attend the 2015 all-star game in Cincinnati, and, mainly, giving the sport's all-time hits leaders his shot at Cooperstown. No guarantee he'd make it. Voters might lump him with the Steroids Era Guys, stamp him persona non grata and keep him out. I just think he deserves a chance. Let the voters decide if they are as forgiving as I hope baseball finally will be. OK that's me. Last word to you. Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Marlins fans (slightly) more optimistic about keeping Stanton: We asked if you thought it likelier the Marlins would trade Giancarlo Stanton before he becomes a free agent or be able to re-sign him long-term, and 74.6 percent predicted a trade. We asked the same question in January 2013 and 78.0 predicted a trade, so optimism at least has increased ever so slightly.

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July 14, 2014

Heat's post-LeBron outlook. Poll, vote; plus Wade sacrifices again, Stanton gags, Radio Tuesday, Pouncey's woe, Hot Button Top 10 & more

1aa1aklotzr1) It is WEDNESDAY, JULY 16. Red Klotz (pictured), maybe the biggest loser in sports history, yet beloved, is dead at 93. For 60 years he played for, managed or otherwise ran the Washington Generals and other prop-opponents that toured with -- and lost to -- the Harlem Globetrotters. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron-gone poll, Germany wins World Cup, Heat add Luol Deng & more. 3Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Vine and Instagram.

Dengue Fever: Mosquito-borne tropical disease.

Deng Fever: Heat fans' excitement over Luol Deng.

Updated NBA championship odds: New via our friends at Bovada, LeBron's Cavaliers are favorites ar 7-2, followed by Spurs 9-2, Bulls and Thunder both 13-2, and Rockets and Clippers both 10-1. Miami is 25-1, which is ninth overall and fourth in East.

THE HEAT OUTLOOK, POST-LEBRON: The flurry is settling. LeBron James is gone. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (notably) will be back, along with Udonis Haslem (official today), Mario Chalmers and Chris "Birdman" Andersen. Wade also became official today, accepting a two-year deal not a longer one, which is a huge positive for the Heat. Luol 1aa1aboshDeng has been added, along with Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. Someone else may yet be added, but it will likely be a role player in that $2.7 million exception slot, not someone of great significance. Basically, we now know what the Heat will look like entering the 2014-15 season. The loss of LeBron is seismic and makes Miami appreciably worse. Now, it will be interesting to see how Bosh is deployed and if he is up to leading, and if Wade can develop a 3-point shot and revitalize himself phyiscally. Deng looks to me like a solid, underheralded add. The Heat's Big 3 is surely downsized post-LeBron, but I think Bosh-Wade-Deng make a decent one. (Bosh is pictured in what he posted on Instagram to announce he'd be back). An onus he hasn't had before will be on coach Erik Spoelstra. I think the Heat still will be among the top four teams in the Eastern Conference, a threat to compete to reach the Finals, but not a championship contender. What is your outlook as of now? How has Pat Riley done in response to the loss of his irreplaceable superstar? Take a dip in our poll and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Most fans understand, support LeBron's decision to leave: We asked -- Do you blame LeBron for leaving? -- the response was enormous, and 63.1 percent said no and wished him well. Yes-I'm-upset-at-him drew 17.8%, and another 19.1% were undecided or had mixed feelings. In Florida the percents were 61.5 no/wish well, 14.4 yes/upset at him, and 24.1 undecided/mixed.

STANTON GAGS IN HR DERBY; JETERFEST TONIGHT: Marlin's Giancarlo Stanton sort of choked in the Home Run Derby last night in rainy Minneapolis, impressively advancing to earn a bye, but then gagging with zero homers in the round that could have put him in the finals. Yoenis Cespedes won. Big letdown for Stanton, whose power is made for the Derby and who was a betting favorite going in. The Home Run Derby has pretty much become something that sucks, by the way. Tonight is the All-Star Game, a.k.a. a three-hour living euology for Derek Jeter. 

MIKE POUNCEY'S TAILSPIN: Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and brother Maurkice assaulted a man at Cameo night club on Miami Beach around 4:20 a.m. Saturday, according to the alleged victim, Ricky 1aa1apounceybdayVasquez. It is said to have happened during the twins' annual advertised birthday blowout (see photo). Vasquez on Twitter claimed he had been "gay bashed," and a woman who witnessed the beating also went on Twitter. A police report and a related lawsuit have been filed; no charges as of today/Tuesday. Whether or not there are, the Dolphins should publicly address the situation. Recall that Mike Pouncey was a figure in last year's Bullygate mess, embarrassed himself with a related Tweet, and was photographed wearing a hat in support of accused murderer Aaron Hernandez. When Pouncey underwent hip surgery last month I wrote in the blog, "I wonder if he is just coming into the prime of a Pro Bowl-caliber career, or if we have seen his best and can expected a flameout. That may be harsh. Let's find out." The latest alleged incident piles on.

HOT BUTTON: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Hot Button is a 1aa1ahotbuttonnew feature of the blog because our Sunday notes-column package is on hiatus until August. Hot Button means what's on our minds as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1. Heat: LeBron leaves Miami: The unthinkable happened. LeBron James left Miami to take his talents (back) to Cleveland. The good news, relatively speaking: Miami contracts (Luol) Deng Fever.

2. Baseball: All-Star festivities: Marlin Giancarlo Stanton is betting fave in tonight's Home Run Derby in Minneapolis. Stanton and pitcher Henderson Alavrez will rep Miami in Tuesday's All-Star Game.

3. World Cup: Germany wins: Viva Deutschland! Or something like that. Lionel Messi and Argentina fell. The good news for Argentines? You were still better than Brazil.

4. Marlins: Slumping into break: Team had lost foive of six and slumped to fourth place in NL East entering the Midsummer Classic. BOLO alert for those playoff hopes.

5. Dolphins: More Pouncey trouble: With July 25 start of training camp looming, center Mike Pouncey finds himself accused of a gay-bashing at a Miami Beach nightlcub. True or not, an embarrassment.

6. UM football: 2 Canes get boot: JaWand Blue and Alexander Figueroa were kicked off team and from school relalted to a sexual battery on campus. Some students never learn.

7. British Open: Tiger tries again: Golf's third of four majors is this week, with Tiger Woods seeking his fourth British but first since '06. Remeber the old days when Tiger was the favorite in any major?

8. Panthers: Developmental camp: Recent No. 1 pick Aaron Eklbad led the young Cats skating in club's developmental camp. Yes, that in out Top 10  does mean the dog days are here.

9. Wimbledon: Fortnight ends: Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova won and anounced plans to use their earnings to buy the missing vowel in their surnames.

10. College football: Preseason awards: The watch lists are out. FSU quarterback Jameis Winston is listed in categroies of player of the year and crab-leg stealing.

MY ILL-TIMED SUMMER VACATION: Me and a family-n-friends party of six returned Sunday from a week's sojourn aboard the biggest cruiseship in the world, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas. (I don't
1aa1agolfbahamaswanna say it's a huge ship, but we took a cab from our stateroom to dinner). The LeBron-gone news broke while I was away, and I wrote a column from the ship's Internet room somewhere off the Virgin Islands. We had a great time touring Nassau and St.  Maarten. Three of us played golf at the tony Oean Club near Paradise Island, Bahamas, not the most famous course I have played (Pebble Beach), but the most aesthetic with its ocean vistas. My kid Christopher and I (pictured) both birdied the par-4 17th. Birdies are routine for him. They make me do mental cartwheeels and backflips. NBA star Carlos Boozer was aboard our cruise, ogled and approached by fans who hated to bother him but did, anyway. I gained five pounds on a diet of alcohol and nonstop eating. Finished Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes over cigars on deck. Even did quite well in the casino especially on the roulette table, including a hit with five chips on 33 and four on 20. A great time. But I told you all to mind LeBron while I was gone. Geez I can't leave you people for a minute!

1aa1agermanrabbitDEAR GREG...: "...Your blog's OK but would be  better if occasionally you would show a picture of a man carrying a gigantic rabbit. Thank you." Dear Reader: I doubt there is such a thing but I'll check.

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May 15, 2014

It's Heat-Pacers in Eastern finals!; plus the 4 candidates to replace Van Gundy on Le Batard, Dolphins '15 draft, hero cat & more

1aa1godzilla1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 15. Patriots continue to dominate AFC East. On the bright side, no Dolphins player is under indictment for three murders. That we know of. 2) Pictured right, for no good reason, the original Godzilla. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat-Nets Game 5 as Miami advances, NBA boycott talk, Van Gundy leaving Le Batard, Dolphins post-draft odds, Bob Dylan & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote.

IT'S HEAT-PACERS IN EASTERN FINALS: Indiana won at Washington tonight 93-80 to advance to meet Miami in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 will be Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Click on What Champions Do for my column off last night's series-clinching Heat victory.

Newly added below: Surveillance video of Jameis Winston crab leg heist.

News: Dolphins name Eric Stokes assistant general manager. He'd been Tampa Bay's director of college scouting past two seasons, working there with new Miami GM Dennis Hickey.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: CANDIDATES TO REPLACE STAN VAN GUNDY ON LE BATARD SHOW: Four names being considered are basketball coach-turned-ESPN announcer Jeff Van Gundy, Stan's younger brother; actor Alan Thicke; 1aa1jvg


1aa1izzoMichigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo; and former Dolphins great Jason Taylor. JVG and Thicke are pictured left and Izzo and Taylor right. It is not yet certain if one of them will be chosen as a regular once-a-week cohost or if there will be a rotation. The opening arose with SVG taking the Detroit Pistons job this week. The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz airs weekdays 3-7 p.m. on 104.3 & 790 The Ticket and 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Van Gundy had been one of three once-a-week cohosts. The others are Bomani Jones and, inexplicably, me.

DEAR JOE JOHNSON...: After the Heat's series-clinching 96-94 win over Brooklyn last night the Nets' Joe Johnson noted, "There were some questionable calls down the stretch." Really, Joe? So it was the officiating? It wasn't that your team choked with a late 4:37 scoreless stretch that fostered Miami's miracle rally? It wasn't that your team missed nine of its last 10 field goal tries? It wasn't that you had the ball stripped on the last play and couldn't even get off a shot off? Geez, Joe.

Should Heat prefer Indiana or Washington?: Vote now!: Miami moves on next against the Indiana-Washington winner, with Pacers leading 3-2 entering tonight's Game 6 in D.C. The eventual machup presents an interesting dilemma for the Heat and for Heat fans. Who do you want? Do you want the more anticipated, sexier matchup and rival in Indiana? Or do you want the perceived softer matchup and easier path to the Finals in Washington? (I say that knowing the Heat was 3-1 vs. Indiana this season and 1-3 vs. Washington. I think Brooklyn just reminded us regular-season records don't matter much). Miami would have home-court advantage vs. the Wizards but not against the Pacers. Still, I sense Indiana is the foe we hope for. Not sure I'm right, though. Hence, this poll! Vote and say why.

DOLPHINS/NFL PROJECTIONS FOR '15 DRAFT. NO, SERIOUSLY: Todd McShay has this up on ESPN.com today, because nobody told him how ridiculous it was and to not do it. His overall No. 1 pick is Southern Cal 1aa1marioedefensive lineman Leonard Williams, and he has a Florida DE, Dante Fowler, going fourth. Six -- six! -- FSU Seminoles are projected as first-rounders: QB Jameis "Crab Legs" Winston, 5th, to the Stinkin' Jets; DE Mario Edwards Jr. (pictured), 9th, to the Dolphins; CB P.J. Williams, 13th; WR Rashad Greene, 14th; OT Cameron Erving, 17th; and OG Tre Jackson, 26th. Two observations: 1. The Dolphins are seen drafting 9th after a 7-9 season (sigh). 2. The Hurricanes' 1R drought continues. Next week: McShay projects the 2037 draft. Miami's first pick will be wideout who'll be conceived in July in a Port-a-Potty during a Phish concert in Saratoga.

Jameis Winston surveillance video: I just saw the Publix surveillance video that show FSU QB Jameis Winston heisting crab legs. You can too by clicking here. Video via Leon County Sheriffs Department and Tallahassee.com. 

HEROIC CAT RESCUES BOY FROM DOG ATTACK: You may have heard of this, If you haven'g seen it yet, you need to. This is the Feline of the Year!


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February 12, 2014

Name NBA's Mount Rushmore. Last day to vote!; plus lunch with Dennis Hickey, more from Richie, freaky Westminster dogs & more

1aa1avalday1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to the ladies. To the romantically challenged gents, this is your reminder. 2) I'm back up at Random Evidence Laboratories today coaxing Sunday's notes-column package. 3)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Ryan Tannehill short-leash poll, Michael Sam, LeBron's dunks, topless Olympian, the Beatles and me, Puig's dogs, Dumb Starbucks & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

LeBron sends a message to Durant: That is what LeBron James' eventful week was all about. Click on The King's Proclamation for today's latest column by me.

HELP LEBRON JAMES PICK NBA'S ALL-TIME MOUNT RUSHMORE: The Heat's LeBron James was asked to name his all-time NBA Mount Rushmore in an NBA TV interview to air this coming Monday. With some 1aa1amtrushease he named Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. After some thought he added Oscar Robertson. Pressed to consider himself, a refreshingly immodest James said, "I'll be one of the top four that's ever played the game for sure. Somebody'll have to be bumped." OK, your turn. Who, right now, in 2014, would make your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of four greatest players? To form my 13-man (alphabetical) ballot I pulled 10 names off the 50 Greatest Players list selected in 1996, and arbitrarily added three more recent stars: Kobe, LeBron and Tim Duncan. Plenty of terrific players didn't make the cut; neither did current young stars such as Kevin Durant whose careers are still taking shape. Scan the ballot, vote for your top four (4) and say why.

LUNCH WITH NEW DOLPHINS GM HICKEY: A little peek behind the curtain. This week the Miami Herald had a luncheon with new Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, at the team's invitation, at Bin 595 at the Plantation Renaissance. The Herald reps consisted of myself, Dolphins writers Adam Beasley and 1aa1adhickArmando Salguero, and Buzz impressario Barry Jackson. With Hickey were Dolphins media-relations legend Harvey Greene and his two able lieutenants Jason Jenkins and Fitz Ollison. The affair was casual and off-the-record, which is why there isn't much meat in this item, just general impressions. Hickey, between bites of Caesar salad, deftly parried questions to provide as little real info as possible, even off-the-record. Example: I asked him how many starter-caliber offensive linemen he thinks he has on the roster right now. "What do you think?" he replied. I told him one (his center) or two at most. He responded expertly, meaning he didn't really answer the question. Nevertheless, I found Hickey to be affable, relaxed and media-friendly -- words rarely used to describe predecessor Jeff Ireland. Hickey (married father of two, devoutly religious, relaxes on a 22-foot boat, gives you a firm shake and a look in the eye) seems like genuinely nice guy. Now we'll see if he's a genuinely good GM. My Cobb salad was delicious, by the way.

DEAR RICHIE: SHHH...: If I were Richie Incognito's agent or his lawyer or the PR firm hired to reshape his image -- if I were anyone who cared at all about Richie -- my advice to him, in language he might understand, might be: "Dude, bro, #STFU." This week brought another fusillade of Twitter rants by Incognito that meant to make adversary Jonathan Martin look bad but hurt Incognito's cause instead. In one, Incognito confided that Martin once "told me he thought about taking his own life." That's a low-blow Tweet, whether true or not. Incognito needs to STFU as he awaits the NFL Bullygate report, because right now he is Tweeting out red flags to every team that might be his future employer.

Poll result: Trust and patience for Tannehill: We asked in last blogpost if you thought Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill should be on a "shorter leash" in 2014, and 68.3 percent said no. Only 22.7% said yes, and the other 9.0% were undecided.

WESTMINSTER KENNEL CLUB: DOGS GONE WILD: I raptly watched the final of the 138th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this week, rooting in vain for a bloodhound named Nathan. The whole event is 1aa1apoodleabsurdly comical without meaning to be, an annual reminder why Best In Show is one of my favorite movies ever. The real Best In Show, last night, went to a prancing 5-year-old wire fox terrier named Sky, pictured 1aa1bestinshowleft, but what caught my fascination was the second-place dog, the outrageously coifed standard poodle named Ally pictured right. Sky, except for the meticulously groomed beard that makes him look like an old English gentleman, looks like a fairly normal dog. Like a pet. Ally, not so much. No offense, Ally -- thank God dogs can't read -- but you have been given a fur-cut that makes you look ridiculous. Even Nathan the bloodhound opened his sleepy eyes long enough to ogle you and shake his giant head.

ON SHAUN WHITE'S OLYMPIC HALFPIPE CHOKE: Yeah, sorry, I do call it a choke when the master of a 1aa1aswhiteparticular discipline gets on the biggest stage and fails to even medal. Honestly, I don't even know why the halfpipe (or slopestyle) are Olympic events at all. It's skateboarding gone wild, X Games stuff. You can turn the halfpipe from concrete or wood to ice and it's still something I'd sooner expect to see dope-smoking 15-year-old slackers doing, not Olympic athletes. I know the preceding makes me sound like I'm a thousand years old. Whatever. The halfpipe is the IOC pandering for a younger demographic. To be fair, I'd eliminate other Olympic sports, too. Curling? Outta here!

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May 01, 2013

Good news on Heat's preference for next round; plus Dolphins' biggest need (with poll), Tebow rumor, Broussard, Sad-O-Meter, glowing sheep & more

1aa1king1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 2. Happy dos de Mayo! 2) Always been a big Snoop Dogg fan. Now here is the reincarnated, reggae-fied Snoop Lion: Here Comes The King. 3) Panthers not making the NHL postseason? Unfortunate. Me not having to feign interest in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Priceless! 4) Click on Weatherman Battles Hiccups on Air for funny vid. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA's gay player, Dolphins' SB odds, Ed DuBois, Sad-O-Meter. 5bJoin us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins/Tebow rumor: How'd it start? I mean beyond ther usual Internet nonsense? Agent Drew Rosenhaus said on WQAM this week he "wouldn't be shocked" if Miami showed interest in free agent QB Tim Tebow. That's how. Drew was doing what good agents do: Trying to drum up business. Tying to create the illusion of smoke so there appears to be fire. Most who follow the team closely would be far more shocked than Rosenhaus if Miami showed any interest. Bet against it. Big.

HEAT (AND FANS) SHOULD HAVE CLEAR PREFERENCE IN BULLS-NETS SERIES: [Update: Nets beat Bulls tonight to tie series 3-3, with Game 7 in Brooklyn]. What opponent should Heat players and fans most want to face in the second round starting Monday in Miami? Players would never say it because to do so would build confidence in the team they'd least like to play or incentive in the one they'd prefer. (Also, the confident Heat "fears" no team; Miami instills fear in others). But there is no doubt the Heat matches up better with Brooklyn than 1aa1aheadChicago and should hope the Nets -- who tied the series tonight and now host Game 7 -- can win one more. Miami was 3-0 vs. Brooklyn this season by an average margin of 18 points, but only 2-2 vs. Chicago, which ended Miami's 27-game win streak. But it's more than that, and more than the possibility (however remote) that Bulls star Derrick Rose could make his lonnnnng-awaited return in the next round. It is that Chicago defends Miami's strength better than any team in the NBA. LeBron James driving and then kicking it out for an open corner-3 (Ray Allen's moneymaker) is a huge part of the Heat's game. Miami shot 44 corner 3's in swamping Milwaukee in the first round, or 11 per game. But Chicago's defense this season allowed an NBA-low 3.6 corner-3 attempts per game. ESPN.com statwonk Tom Haberstroh has more on this here. Defensively the Bulls were better than the Nets this season in most categories, but it is their denying the corner-3 that would most challenge the Heat. Also worth noting, Chicago outrebounded Miami by 36 (175-139) in the four season meetings, and limited the Heat to 30 percent on 3-point shots (21-for-70), versus Miami's 41% on 3's against everybody else. Don't get me wrong. Miami still would be a heavy favorite to beat the Bulls, and deservedly. But the challenge would be a stark contrast to the playoffs' "soft opening" in that sweep of the Bucks.

DOLPHINS' BIGGEST REMAINING HOLES, POST-DRAFT: Left tackle seems to be getting most of the current attention and tryout calls (which must make Jonathan Martin feel like crap), and I can 1aa1helpunderstand that. But for me there are other roster soft spots of some concern. They include cornerback, where starters Brent Grimes and Richard Marshall would hardly count among the NFL's best tandems; tight end, where Dustin Keller is a marginal upgrade over departed Anthony Fasano; and perhaps running back, where Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas leave Miami lacking proof. Also wonder if we might add linebacker, where Koa Misi and newcomers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler have much to prove in an overhauled unit. What do you think is the Dolphins' biggest remaining area of concern and why?

Poll note: One choice above is garnering roughly two-thirds of all the votes. There is a phrase in the business for something like that. The phrase is, "Lousy poll idea."

PETITION TO SUSPEND BROUSSARD CIRCULATING: ESPN basketball analyst Chris Broussard is under fire for calling out-of-the-closet NBA player Jason Collins a sinner and saying his homosexuality is an 1aa1fa"open rebellion to God and Jesus Christ." The faith-based group Faithful America (click for the petition) is collecting online signatures calling for ESPN to suspend Broussard for what the group's executive director Michael Sherrard called allowing Broussard to "mischaracterize our faith and use the teachings of Jesus as the basis for gay-bashing." Faithful America's slogan is, "Love thy neighbor. No Exceptions."

MARLINS "SAD-O-METER" LIVES ON: We have this new blog feature 1aa1bbsadwe're updating as long as the Marlins' winning percentage is under .300. The New York Mets' 1962 record of 40-120 (.250) is widely regarded as the single worst season in modern MLB history and the Marlins had been on pace to threaten that ignominy. A recent three-game win streak almost tipped the Fish up over .300 to at least temporarily shut down our Sad-O-Meter, but tonight in Philly made it two losses in a row. So: MARLINS SAD-O-METER: Current record, 8-21 (.276). Updated season pace, 44.69 wins, 117.31 losses.

1aa1glowsheepSOUNDS LIKE A BAA-AAAD IDEA: Scientists in Uruguay have engineered a "genetically modified" sheep that glows in the dark. (And you became a scientist for what exactly!?) WWMT? [What Would (Ron) Magill Think?] Click here for the story. Remember. This is a blog. I couldn't say it if it weren't true.

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March 28, 2013

Pat Riley to Ainge: "Shut the f--- up"; plus Sweet 16 morphs to Elite 8, Dolphins land CB Brent Grimes, Marlins' odds, Bosh's camel & more

1aa1mrt[1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 30. Headed down to Key Biscayne to columnize off women's tennis final. Quiet, please! 2) Pictured right: Mr. T playing hockey. Just because. 3) Thanks again to ESPN SportsCenter for having us on this week to discuss Heat streak and Canes' NCAA run. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat streak ends, Dolphins new logo/poll, Heat Big 5@70, Madness, Tiger Woods, men's tennis. 5) Join us on Twitter @agregcote.

Dolphins sign CB Brent Grimes: He's 29, only 5-10 and coming off an injury, but if healthy Grimes, the ex-Falcon, is a starter-caliber guy capable of replacing departed Sean Smith. I see him  as Miami's third biggest free-agency get of this offseason after WR Mike Wallace and LB Dannell Ellerbe. Having said that, given his age and the fact he signed only a one-year contract, Grimes feels like a temporary mend at cornerback rather than a real answer.

Marlins' betting odds (they ain't good): Bovada's final preseason MLB odds find Marlins 200-1 to win the World Series; only Astros at 250-1 have longer odds. Favorites are Nationals at 7-1, Tigers/Blue Jays both 8-1, and Angels/Dodgers both 9-1. NL East odds are Nats 5-6, Braves 12-5, Phillies 3-1, Mets 15-1 and Marlins 40-1. Over/under on Miami wins: 63.5.

RILEY FIRES BACK AT LEBRON CRITICISM: Heat beat Hornets on road last night 108-89 to clinch top seed in Eastern Conference behind LeBron James' 36 points -- but that isn't the story. The story is Heat president Pat Riley firing back at Celtics prez Danny Ainge for calling it "embarrassing " that James complained abot officiating and hard fouls in the loss at Chicago. "Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team," Riley said in a statement. "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing..." Think about that. Riley telling a contemporary to "shut the f--- up." In a statement released through the club. You go, boy!

CANES COLD EARLY, CAN'T RECOVER IN LOSS TO MARQUETTE IN SWEET 16: A really disappointing ending to the season last night in the Sweet 16 for the Hurricanes, in a 71-61 loss to Marquette. The final score flattered Miami, which came out cold and never could recover. Marquette couldn't miss, shot 54 percent from the field, while UM shot a clanky 35.5%. (Durand Scott, Trey McKinney-Jones and Rion Brown were a combined 8-for-35). Very tough to overcome a 16-point first half at this level, on this stage. Second-seeded Miami was a scant 5-point favorite in Washington, D.C. I liked the Canes and did not 1aa1canes16feel the knee-related absence of center Reggie Johnson, who had become a role player, would be a key factor. But cold shooting sure was. Congrats to Miami for only the second Sweet 16 run in school history, but this is not how, or when, a No. 2 seed envisions going out. ..... My bracket's wishes: Thursday night--Wanted wins by Miami, Ohio State and Indiana; did not have a dog in the Wichita State-LaSalle hunt. (If you did, bless you!) Last night--Needed wins by Louisville, Michigan, Duke and Florida. I have five teams left in the Elite Eight, but Indiana losing was the ultimate bracket killer for me; I'd hunched Hoosiers winning it all. I am forked.

Last night's Sweet 16 quartet:

* No. 1 Louisville d. No. 12 Oregon, 77-69; in Indianapolis, Ind. Louisville was favored by 11. Cardinals roll on, if not quite comfortably.

* No. 4 Michigan d. No. 1 Kansas, 87-85 (OT); in Arlington, Tex. Kansas was favored by 2. I liked Meechigan (that was for you, Mandich) in a slight upset and nailed it, if luckily, and late.

* No. 2 Duke d. No. 3 Michigan State, 71-61; in Indianapolis. Duke was favored by 2. The Diablo Azur and Coach K repping the ACC.

* No. 3 Florida d. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast, 62-50; in Arlington. Florida was favored by 14. Like Gators to win but not cover. Cinderella FGCU, led by coach Andy Enfield's wife, Amanda Marcum, did not go dwn without a fight. Eagles led big early before fading.

Thursday night's results:

* No. 3 Marquette d. No. 2 Miami, 71-61; in Washington, D.C. Miami was favored by 5. Canes shoot 35.5%, pick a very bad time to be Ice Ice (Cold) Baby.

* No. 2 Ohio State d. No. 6 Arizona, 73-70; in Los Angeles. OSU was favored by 3 1/2. Buckeyes needed a 3-point basket with 2 seconds left to avoid overtime. 

* No. 4 Syracuse d. No. 1 Indiana, 61-50; in Washington. Indiana was favored by 5 1/2. Marquee game of night found Hoosiers following Canes path with early hole, poor shooting.

* No. 9 Wichita State d. No. 13 LaSalle, 72-58; in L.A. Wichita State was favored by 4. Mutt game of the night except to the involved schools.

Natonal championships represented by Thursday's four games: 10 -- 5 by Indiana (1987-81-76-53-40); 1 each by Syracuse (2003), Arizona (1997), Marquette (1977), Ohio State (1960) and LaSalle (1954); 0 by Miami and Wichita State.

National championships represented by Friday's four games: 15 -- 4 by Duke (2010-01-92-91); 3 by Kansas (2008-88-52); 2 each by Florida (2007-06), Michigan State (2000-79) and Louisville (86-80); 1 each by Michigan (1989) and Oregon (1939); 0 by Florida Gulf Coast.

Elite Eight matchups: Tonight--3-Marquette vs. 4-Syracuse and 2-Ohio State vs. 9-Wichita State. Sunday--1-Louisville vs. 2-Duke and 3-Florida vs. 4-Michigan.

DOUG GOTTLIEB'S AWKWARD WHITE MOMENT: CBS analyst Doug Gottlieb found himself on the set alongside four African-American gentlemen during last night's NCAA coverage and introduced himself 1aa1douggthusly: "I'm just here to bring diversity to the set. Give kind of the white man's perspective on things..." He is pictured here in the midst of burying himself. It was awkwardly received with what sounded like nervous, forced laughter. Gottlieb later apologized. With Twitter blowing up against Gottlieb, Charles Barkley, during the broadcast, defended Gottlieb by saying the panel was not offended, and that listeners should "get a life" and move on. As a spokesman for the White Community, I was not offended, either.

WHY STREAK ENDING IS GOOD THING FOR HEAT: Dwyane Wade after the loss in Chicago halted Miami's win streak at 27 games: "Now that's it over, I'm glad it's over. See you all in the playoffs." Wade is pictured right with that things-are-looking-up attitude. Perfect. It would be disengenuous to now claim the record (Lakers, 33) didn't matter to the Heat, but it 1aa1dwadechinever mattered most, or even close. As coach Erik Spoelstra said: "It has never been about the streak. We have a bigger goal in mind." Now the pressure of an historic streak disappears. The incessant questions about the 1972 Lakers cease. And the Heat can start focusing again on being the best/healthiest/most rested and ready team it can possibly be when the playoffs begin. Winning 34 games in a row to break a long-standing NBA streak record would have been special. But winning four games in the NBA Finals in June -- again -- would be better by a lot. As a bonus, Heat fans, too, can now return to their normal rhythm, which had been rudely interrupted by two months of perfection. Time to dust off our nit-picking nature, Miami, and wonder and worry anew whether the Heat has the rebounding necessary to repeat.

Quantifying interest that Heat streak generated: Sun Sports tells us that Miami-Fort Lauderdale ratings during the streak averaged 9.1, a 30 percent spike over the season average of 6.95 --itself a Miami-area record for Heat ratings. The highest-rated game was March 18 vs. Boston, drawing a 12.2. Last night's streak-ending loss at Chicago was the sixth straight game in which a Heat telecast on Sun (10.6) out-rated ESPN (6.6) head to head in the South Florida. 

1aa1boshcamelHOW THE RICH AND FAMOUS ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU AND I (one in a series): When we have a birthday, maybe it's a quiet dinner out with a few friends or a Carvel ice-cream cake from Publix. When Chris Bosh of the Heat has a birthday, it's a "Moroccan-Style" bash at Miami's Briza on the Bay featuring belly 1aa1camelsdancers, fire breathers and a live camel named Henri. Oh, and it is "presented by Remy Martin V." Of course it is! The exotic soiree will April 3 as Chris turns 29. My rejected theme for the party: "No Drama -- Just Dromedary!" Bosh is pictured right in the official poster for the party (the parties of the rich and famous have official posters). At left, members of the camel community kvetch and snipe over why Henri (of all camels) seems to gets all the celebrity gigs.

1aa1dolhelPoll result: Mixed reviews for Dolphins' new logo: We asked in the previous blogpost if you prefer the new Dolphins' logo over the current one (you may still vote) and support for the new logo (47.4 percent) was lagging narrowly behind loyalty to the current one (52.6%). By the way, how would you like to be newly signed Dolphins guard Lance Louis? You make your big free-agent announcement yesterday but nobody is paying attention because everybody is talking about your new team's bleepin' LOGO!

SUPER BOWL SCAM TRACED TO BROWARD MAN: Oh, the shame! Oh, the sham! A Broward man, Robert Pham, 37, of Coral Springs, has been arrested as the culprit who bilked two 49ers fans out of $5,900 on Craigslist. Story here. Instead of mailing the fans two Super Bowl tickets Pham allegedly mailed them a taunting note that read, Go Ravens! LOL! Talk about mean-spiritedness.

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February 19, 2013

Canes win again as UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations; plus Lil Wayne vs. Heat, fixing NBA All-Stars, Dolphins, goats & more

ESPN Outside The Lines on UM/NCAA case today: I'll be among guests on the show starting at 3 p.m. Please watch anyway.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron schools Michael, Canes win again, Battier tops Wade, Stanton, Cristobal, Robbie Rogers. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Canes win again; UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations: No. 2-ranked UM men's basketball wins at home last night over Virginia, 54-50, the key play a late Reggie Johnson layup off a Shane Larkin pass. Meantime The U received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in the Nevin Shapiro probe and now has three months to officially respond. Allegations include a "lack of institutional control" against UM, as expected. "We have suffered enough," said UM president Donna Shalala. (More on that below). On the brighter side, Jim Larranga's Canes are in a dead heat for national-championship favorites. According to latest Bovada odds, Forida Gators are a slight pick at 5-1, a sliver ahead of Miami and Indiana both at 11-2. Then it's Michigan 15-2 and Duke 9-1. But that was before Florida's latest loss.

NCAA ADMITS WRONGDOING BUT PRESSES ON AGAINST UM, IS BLASTED BY SHALALA: Well, damn, this is getting interesting! The external review of the NCAA's unethical botchery of the UM probe came 1aa1donnasout yesterday and was damning. Turns out investigators went ahead and paid Nevin Shapiro's attorney to improperly obtain info via depositions even though the NCAA's own staff counsel explicitly said not to. Also turns out the NCAA has paid thousands to provide Shapiro a cell phone. Click on Full Report for the 52-page review. NCAA President Mark Emmert -- who seeks outs wrongdoing in colleges when his own organization is corrupted -- said he'll move forward toward a Notice oif Allegations against UM, prompting university President Donna Shalala (pictured) to sharply call for an end to this case with no further punishment beyond what the school already has self-imposed. She is right. Click on UM Has Paid, Now Punish NCAA for Tuesday's latest column by me.

Cristobal leaves UM for 'Bama: Former FIU coach Mario Cristobal, hired Jan. 10 by UM as an assistant, is leaving five weeks later for Alabama and Nick Saban's staff, as offensive line coach. The move is unfortunate for the Canes and Al Golden but not a big surprise. Cristobal wants to be a head coach again as soon as possible and felt a national-championship staff would be his best springboard. Hard to argue.

LIL WAYNE DROPS F-BOMBS ALL OVER MIAMI HEAT: Glad to see everybody else is catching up to what you read here first on MiamiHerald.com. The original post: "F--- the Heat, f--- LeBron, f--- She-Wade and I f---ed Chris Bosh wife." That is what rapper Lil Wayne said to a crowd during NBA All-Star Weekend at a 

1aa1carterbirthday celebration for fellow Young Money rapper Birdman, according to Tweets sent out by two attendees, MTV's Shaheem Reid and Karen Civil. It happened during Wayne's performance at Houston's packed Stereo Live club early Monday morning following the game. Click HERE for a brief video, but be warned it's profane. The diatribe does not surprise. Hip-hop and sports do not intersect any more than in the NBA, and Lil Wayne vs. the Heat has become a rather bizarre offshoot. This is an escalation of Lil Wayne's all-but-declared war on the Heat. The hostility began when Weezy felt disrespected because James and Wade did not acknowledge him courtside during a game. It intensified when Weezy claimed he was ejected from the recent game vs. the Lakers here in which he was rooting for L.A.; the Heat said he eft voluntarily. Now the rapper claims he has been banned from all NBA games and events -- at Miami's orchestration. Here's guessing that, once again, Lil Wayne will not be a featured speaker at the Heat's next championship parade.

HOW TO FIX NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND: For me the most compelling snippet of the NBA's showcase weekend in Houston was late in the All-Star Game itself Sunday, when Kobe Bryant decided to get serious (and personal) with LeBron James, defending him hard and even blocking his shot. It looked like something otherwise unseen in the game: Intensity. Real basketball. Step 1 for fixing All-Star Weekend: Make the game matter. Make it into an actual competition rather than a track-meet/dunk-fest/Globetrotters impersonation where the over/under on total points is always around 285 and it is understood nobody bothers with defense. Have some incentive to win. Could be a charity thing. Could be an extra draft-pick for the winning conference's teams; a de-facto "third round" for half the league. I understand the game is a break for these guys. I'm not saying it should be all-out. But let's find a happy medium somewhere between playoff intensty and the farce it is now. Step 2: Streamline, streamline, streamline. There now are six official all-star events, which is three too many. Pare it back to the game itself, the slam-dunk contest and the 3-point competition. That's it. Sorry, retired players and celebrity-rappers. Step 3: Put players in the slam-dunk contest that fans actually want to watch. This used to be big, remember? An event. It was the NBA equivalent of the Home Run Derby. Now it sucks. It sucks because star dunkmasters want nothing to do with it. Find a way to get the superstars back in it. Because we'd all rather watch LeBron dunk, no matter how good Terrence Ross might be. Step 4: This is important. Make sure all arena personnel in every All-Star city have a photo of diminutive actor/comedian Kevin Hart, so that if he attempts to get in the building -- let alone get on the air -- he might be stopped.

DOLPHINS AND FREE AGENCY: Ravens QB Joe Flacco tops a new ESPN.com list of top 50 NFL free agents. Dolphin pending FAs on it are OT Jake Long (9th), WR Brian Hartline (31st) and DT Randy Starks (36th). Top-rated WRs, a Miami target area, are Greg Jennings (3rd), Wes Welker (6th), Dwayne Bowe (7th), Victor Cruz (13th) and an underrated Mike Wallace (14th). Top-rated CB is Brent Grimes (11th).

1aa1goatGOATS SCREECHING, YELLING LIKE HUMANS: Guess that headline about says it all. Click HERE to watch/listen. 

HEAT BIG 5 @ 50: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially the nerdy-stat variety and so we started this one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's top-five cumulative 1aa1heat5ranking of players having the biggest overall impact based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 50 Games (36-14):

Rank (@45)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,916.4

2 (2)   Dwyane Wade   1,315.9

3 (3)   Chris Bosh   1,180.0

4 (5)   Mario Chalmers   740.7

5 (4)   Ray Allen   734.6

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 497.8

1aa1ebert"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a vintage picture of a young Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom in 1969. Thank you." Yep here it is, courtesy of Bill Lucey's newspaperalum.com.

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