February 27, 2014

Thursday p.m.: Scary-looking Masked Man scores 31 as Heat rout Knicks; plus Incognito vandalizes own car, JoJo Nicolas, dumb Elkington & more

1aa1ashiffrin1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27. This week's Sports Illustrated national cover, U.S. skier and slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin (pictured), reflects slim pickings. No one American athlete truly captured hearts and imagination at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Nobody is Wheaties box-worthy. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Clay-Liston and Ali 50 years later, the N-word, Marlins win projection, Hiassen/Pitts & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Marlins president David Samson was the first of 18 contestants voted off CBS' Survivor series. Who knew Marlins fans had a vote?" --Greg Cote

1aa1alebmaskUPDATE: LEBRON PICKS SCARY MASK, FRIGHTENS KNICKS WITH 31: It's black, it's carbon fiber, it's scary looking, and the man wearing it scored a game-high 31 points tonight to lead a 108-82 Miami rout of the sad New York Knicks.





1aa1amask4LEBRON TO REVEAL FACIAL PROTECTION IN LIVE TV SPECIAL, 'THE MASK DECISION': After missing one game recovering from a broken nose, Heat superstar LeBron James is to return to action in Miami 1aa1amask1tonight wearing a protective mask against the visiting New York Knicks. Sources tell us LeBron considered four styles, including the  

standard clear mask pictured top left, the 1aa1amask2"Bane look" from the Batman movie pictured middle left, and the classic "Jason" hockey-mask style pictured bottom left. Ultimately, though, sources say James tonight will unveil a Nike-engineered protective Freddy Krueger-style mask presented by Samsung and Beats by Dre, pictured right. The 1aa1amask3ensemble will feature a radical departure, with LeBron's customary white headband replaced, sources say, by a terrifyingly sauve wide-brimmed Freddy hat. Hey, I said sources. I didn't say reliable sources.

 We lurch from ridiculous to unfortunately serious in offering our condolences to the family and friends of former Miami Hurricanes football player JoJo Nicolas, who died yesterday, just shy of his 25th birthday, from injuries sustained in this week's auto accident. The U football family has endured more than its share of tragedy over the years, of the type that lends perspective and reminds us a loss isn't a disappointing result on Saturday. This is a loss.

INCOGNITO VANDALIZES OWN CAR: TMZ reports that Richie Incognito's $300,000 black Ferrari was vandalized with a baseball bat while parked outside of his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. We immediately presumed Jonathan Martin had a proper alibi. Now, according to cops, Incognito admitted taking the bat to his own car. Reasons are yet unknown, although Incognito's past anger-management issues hardly make it the most shocking thing we've heard. Thaaaaat's Richie!

GOLFER STEVE ELKINGTON, BY ALL INDICATIONS, ISN'T VERY SMART: Steve Elkington @elkpga this week Tweeted this since-deleted morsel: "ESPN reporting Michael Sam is leading the 1aa1aelkhandbag throw at the NFL combine..." Some defended it as needling ESPN's over-coverage of the event, but most took it as a homophobic jab at the man likely to become the NFL's fiorst openly gay player. It wasn't the Aussie's first time playing Twitter foot-in-mouth. Just this past December, after a fatal helicopter crash into a Glasgow pub, he outraged many by Tweeting, "Locals report no beer was spilled." Dear Steve: You haven't won a PGA Tour event since 1999. Less Tweeting, more practicing. (Elkington is pictured left, waving goodbye to his reputation).

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February 25, 2014

Wednesday p.m.: The night Ali was born, 50 years ago later; plus the N-word, Marlins' projected win total, Team USA verdict, Hiassen/Pitts & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 26. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Team USA Olympic poll, Dale Jr., LeBron's nose & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

IT WAS 50 YEARS AGO: CLAY BEATS LISTON IN MIAMI BEACH, AND MUHAMMAD ALI IS BORN: I spoke with Ferdie Pacheco, "The Fight Doctor," for yesterday's column on the golden anniversary 1aa1aclayliston1of a watershed event in American sports history, and arguably the biggest one we have hosted in greater Miami. Click on Ali Is Born for that column. Ferdie and I did not speak at length. He was tired. He 's 86 now, and he'd just done four hours with CBS Sports cameras in his Miami home for a 1aa1aclaylistonspecial. Being the last, best living link to those Clay-turning-Ali days makes Pacheco a treasure, living history. Ali himself, of course, is a shell in the terrible embrace of Parkinson's. It's as if Pacheco is his voice now, too. I was too young to know of that Feb. 25, 1964 fight, let alone to have attended, but the buzz about it helped kindle in me a fascination with boxing; more accurately, with Ali, the Greatest Of All Time. He was the first athlete of my generation, at the least the first on my radar, who transcended sports, and who brought politics, religion and outlandish (wonderful) braggadocio to our games. He was like nothing before, and there has been none like him since. It is fitting that the History Miami museum has an art and photo exhibit marking that event 50 years ago, and hosted a panel discussion last night. And it is fitting that The Fight Doctor was on that panel, the painter's brush strokes giving color to memories in black and white.

MARLINS' PROJECTED WIN TOTAL: It's 69.5 on the betting over/under, says Bovada. Good news: That's better than last season's 62 wins. Bad news: That's still tied for next to last in all of MLB, and last in the NL East, after Nationals 88.5, Braves 87.5, Phillies 76.5 and mets 73.5. Overall leader is Dodgers at 92.5.

Poll result: Mixed verdict on Team USA performance in Sochi: We asked in the previous blogpost and you all gave Team USA what amounts to silver or bronze at best. Most, 32.5 percent, rated the overall performance "good," 29.2% "fair" and 26.6% "disappointing." It was "a failure" to 6.5% and "excellent" to only 5.2%.

ON THE USE OF THE "N-WORD": First, yeah, I'm about as white as can be and yet here I am opining on the n-word. So what? No apologies. If I can speak up for gay rights even though I'm not gay, why can't I have an opinion on others using the n-word? I have not been hurt to have been called it in anger, 1aa1anwordderision or hatred like many older African-Americans (and some younger) may have, but I still am jarred by the sound of the word, no matter it's present-day connotation. I address its use not from a vantage of Civil Rights, but of civility, and Black History Month provides a natural vessel for discussion. I hear black friends and black athletes (though not all) defend using the word among themselves, but with an "-a" not an "-er" on the end. Rappers feel the same justification. Even some whites do, as if using the word includes them in some private club. That was an element of the Incognito/Martin dynamic in the Dolphins' Bullygate saga. I'm not audacious enough to tell anybody how they should speak among themselves, or in their art form, but I can suggest the continued use of the n-word, even ending in "a," feels self-defeating to me. It is clearly generational, as we saw in the recent ESPN Outside The Lines special on the word. It is significant to note most older blacks who actually were victims of segregation and racism abhor the word in all its forms. This, to me, is reason enough to erase the word in all its forms from our lexicon. That includes rap lyrics and collegial locker-room banter. It is a matter of respect, not so much respect for one's self as respect for generations past that suffered greatly, sometimes paying with their lives, when the n-word represented discrimination in its most violent, hateful form. I don't agree with the NFL considering making a penalty of the word, but only because not saying it should not require rules or legislation. Not saying it should spring from the conscience.

IN APPRECIATION OF HIASSEN, PITTS: Columnists Carl Hiaasen and Leonard Pitts Jr. make me proud of the Miami Herald, and honored to be a colleague over here on the sporting wing. The thought occured Sunday as I read the latest from each: Hiassen on the latitude and lunacy of Florida's Stand Your Ground gun law, and Pitts on gay rights and stubborn wrongs. Excellence. From them it almost always is.

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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.


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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February 21, 2014

Saturday p.m.: In support of Joe Philbin (yeah, I'm the one); plus LeBron in Space Jam 2?, Bane James, Bokamper, nerd dancing & more

1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22. That "secondary" NCAA violation involving UM line coach Art Kehoe glimpsing a voluntary workout strikes as beyond trivial. 2) I'll be on NBC Sports Radio today around 5:30. Thanks to ESPN's Outside The Lines and the great Bob Ley for having us back on earlier thi week. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Joe Philbin poll, 'Melo-to-Heat scenario, Nevin Shapiro & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Condolences: Our thoughts are with former Dolphins stalwart Kim Bokamper and family on the passing yesterday of his wife Colleen, 57, after a two-year bout with colon cancer.

1aa1aspacejam2LeBron reportedly to star in Space Jam 2: A sequel to the 1996 film Space Jam reportedly is in the works and could star LeBron James, according to Deadline Hollywood, an entertainment-oriented business news site. The original starred Michael Jordan (and Bugs Bunny, of course).

MEET GREG COTE, THE PRESIDENT AND APPARENTLY ENTIRE MEMBERSHIP OF THE JOE PHILBIN SUPPORT GROUP: It isn't that I find Dolphins' coach Joe Philbin faultless in Bullygate. It is as a response to the gross lynch-mob overreaction against Philbin by most fans (see poll result below) and media that led me to write my most recent column. (Click HERE to read in full). My entree into the column:

1aa1ajoelike"I’m not sure what Joe Philbin’s time is in the 40-yard dash, but I can tell you it had better be fast to outrun all of these Dolphins fans and hysterical media chasing him with torches and pitchforks. One wonders if the lurching mob, upon catching him, would have Philbin fired or think a firing squad more fitting. Or perhaps the outraged masses might be mollified to merely parade him tarred and feathered through the streets of Miami, given that the public stoning has fallen out of fashion here in the States."

One more excerpt: "Those criticizing Philbin need to leave the naïve fantasy world where the NFL head coach knows everything about everything. They need to re-enter the real world, where coaches do not eavesdrop on players’ personal text messages, do not spy on guys at strip clubs, do not have mental telepathy and do not periodically ask during team meetings, 'Any of you guys in here being bullied? Show of hands, please?' More reality: A head coach is overburdened as is and does not have time to monitor and babysit the way his grownup players interrelate. Team chemistry and locker room policing are self-regulated phenomena and, sorry, but the head coach is not Dr. Phil."

And my conclusion: "You want to get on Philbin because his two Dolphins seasons have been 7-9 and 8-8? Fine. That’s fair. That’s on him: His record, his direct responsibility. And that is why next season could and perhaps should be playoffs-or-bust for him. Should Bullygate play any role in the judging of Philbin? Yes. Absolutely! Just not the role you might think. What he knew or when or why not — those things are all moot points and pointless. Why are we even still talking about that? Done with it. Past it. Judge Philbin’s Bullygate role from this point forward. Judge him on whether or not he leads the Dolphins to survive this, learn from it and move on stronger."

Poll result: Most do not support Philbin: We asked in the last blogpost how you feel about Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, and 58.4 percent said they do not support him, vs. 23.4% who said they do. Another 18.2% were undecided, an unusually high percentage of wafflers. The most positive spin for Philbin is that 41.6% percent either support him or are open to the idea.

1aa1abanejamesLEBRON'S NOSE IS HURTING, BUT HIS HUMOR IS INTACT: Gotta love LeBron James. He leaves Thursday night's game at Oklahoma City with a bloodied nose after a hard whack by Serge Ibaka -- after scoring 33 points to guide an impressive Heat win -- and within hours LeBron is posting a photo on Instagram calling himself "Bane James," after the Batman character with the scary facial mask. X-rays found he has a broken nose and will be a game-time deision for Sunday's Heat game here vs. Chicago. If he does play it likely would be with an apparatus to protect his nose, though presumably not a Bane mask.

1aa1afigureOLYMPIC NERD DANCING: I am not a big fan of the Sochi Olympics figure-skating spinoff called ice dancing. But if I were it would be because of images like this one of a German pair in which Nerd Man appears to be staring in rapt wonder at his partner's chest while she appears to be in the throes of, well, you know. 

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February 17, 2014

Tuesday p.m.: D-Wade's cool deed; plus Marino sacked, Dolphin non-leaders, SI swimsuits, FIU's error, Heat trade rumor, Gators, Mavis & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today for my historic 12th national appearance on the Dan Le Batard Show. We go 4-7 p.m. on ESPN Radio, 3-7 locally on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket. Today I'd imagine we'll be talking a lot of women's hockey, curling and skeleton. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18. CBS dumps Dan Marino from its NFL studio show. 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins' Bullygate saga. 3) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bullygate report and poll, Heat in All-Star Game, NBA's Mount Rushmore, Olympic farting & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Dolphins' leadership void allowed Bullygate to happen, and continue: Ted Wells had his 140-page finding. Mine covers two pages in the Miami Herald today. I find, in my latest column, that the team's lack of leadership across the board is why this happened here. Click on Nobody Stood Up to read.

New Olympic hockey, March Madness betting odds: Via our friends at Bovada... Olympic men's hockey: Sidney Crosby and Canada still a small favorite for gold at 7-4 over Team USA at 11-4. After that it's Russia 16-5 and Sweden 5-1. Men's March Madness: Florida Gators now co-favorites with Syracuse for NCAA national title, both at 6-1. Then it's Kansas 15-2, Michigan State 17-2 and Arizona/Duke both 9-1.

DWYANE WADE'S COOL GIFT TO HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM: The best use of celebrity (and its related access 1aa1awademakeoverand wealth) is surprising others with kindness, and understanding that small gestures might mean the world to those who look up to you. Heat star Dwyane Wade gets that. While in New Orleans for the NBA All-Star Game, along with sponsor Gatorade, he did an extreme makeover of the lockerroom of a New Orleans prep basketball team, Riverdale High, that was in the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, turning it from the classic metal-locker high-school room into something closer to NBA standard. Now, the cynic would justifiably note that it didn't cost Wade anything or that making a video of it casts it as easy, inexpensive publicity for Gatorade. Nevertheless, Wade showed up, the school and kids were thrilled, and so for me it's a cool thing all-round. Pictured is a still from the video. Click HERE to watch the 4-minute vid, and feel good.

1aa1asiswimSI'S 50th ANNIVERSARY SWIMSUIT ISSUE: OK I'm only writing about it to give me a cheap vehicle for the mildly naughty cover shot at right. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is patently sexist but yet sort of an American tradition I guess. I hear the 50th anniversary edition will include original models, now mostly in their early 70s, wearing nothing but body paint. Alright, I made that last part up.

A QUICK LESSON IN PUBLIC RELATIONS FOR FIU BASEBALL: Of all the people in the world, of all the former players, FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas chose ex-pitcher Dennis Wiseman to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the team's season opener the other night. Unfortunately the honor went to a registered sex offender who'd been arrested years earlier on three counts of improper relations with a student while working at North Miami High. Does that mean Wiseman should forever be shunned by FIU as a persona non grata? Maybe not. But it does mean, Turtle, that you pick somebody else to represent your program with the honor of a first pitch at a season opener.

SPECULATION ON HEAT TRADE: The NBA trade deadline is this Thursday so the rumors and speculation are flying. Much of it amounts to the media hurling s--- at a wall to see 1aa1aevantwhat sticks, but this speculation from Sam Smith of Bulls.com caught my eye. The 76ers have hybrid 6-7 small forward/shooting guard Evan Turner (pictured) on the block, and Smith reports Miami could be interested, with some combination of Udonis Haslem, James Jones and a No. 1 draft pick available, and a third team possibly involved. (Bear in mind Miami's top pick will be near the end of round one, and Heat don't put much stock in the draft, anway). Acquiring Turner would be inetresting. He's only 25, averages 17.5 points this season, and would be a hedge against the lingering injury issue(s) of Dwyane Wade. Plenty of reasons why this might not happen (and I doubt it will), but still worth keeping an eye on the next couple days.

KILL THE NBA ALL-STAR GAME!: Of course by "kill" I pretty much mean "ignore." Why watch? The East beat the West Sunday night, 163-155, and it was like watching a Harlem Globetrotters-Washington Generals game in terms of competitiveness. Even as entertainment 1aa1alebasgit's lacking. There were an even 100 3-point shots taken, and 162 points were scored in the paint -- underlining the disinterest in defense or even the pretense of defense. The NBA dresses up the faux-game in hip-hop -- still love me some old-school Snoop Dogg, or Lion, or whatever -- but the whole affair remains pointless even as the scoring breaks records. (LeBron James scored 22 points, Dwyane Wade 10 and Chris Bosh five, by the way). Only because the NFL and NHL all-star games are such hot messes does the NBA's seem decent by comparison. MLB' s all-star game continues as the only one worth the slightest attention.

LeBron says nothing of value about his future!: LeBron, in an NBA TV interview last night, asked if he could picture himself playing anywhere else: "At this point, I can't, [but] we don't know what can happen from here to July."

Poll result: Dolfans embarrassed, but also sharply divided, by Bullygate: We asked in the last blogpost how serious you think the whole Bullygate controversy was, and 44.5 percent called it a "major embarrassment" but another 37.8% called it minor and "way overblown." Only 16.5% were in between, calling it "fairly serious," and a scant 1.1% were still undecided.

A RECOMMENDED BOOK: Just bought and finished I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers and the March Up Freedom's Highway (Scribner, $26), by Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot. Devoured 1aa1amavisthe 308 pages in two days because I've been a Staple Singers fan since college and currently write the independent Twitter site @mavis_staples -- but also because the story is so engaging. The family group enjoyed chart success in the first half of the '70s but their story starts in rural, deeply-segregated Mississippi and explores their unheralded role in the Civil Rights movement. They were favorites of Martin Luther King. Their music blurred lines between gospel, R&B, soul, funk and pop. Mavis continues to tour to this day, at 74, and as more than just a nostalgia act. Her two most recent albums (produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy) both were Grammy-nominated for Best Americana album. Mavis is a national treasure, and the book is wonderful.

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February 14, 2014

Your final verdict: How serious was Bullygate? Last day to vote!; plus Heat in All-Star Game, NBA Mount Rushmore results, Olympic farting & more

1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16. Click on Random Evidence for today's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins' Bullygate fallout. 2) 
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA Mount Rushmore poll, lunch with Dennis Hickey, Sean Taylor's dad, more Richie, show dogs, Shaun White chokes & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

My Bullygate column: Click on Over, For Now for my column off the NFL/Ted Wells report.

NFL BULLYING REPORT IMPLICATES INCOGNITO, 2 TEAMMATES: The NFL independent Bullygate investigation led by lawyer Ted Wells concluded yesterday with the report revealed. Click on NFL Dolphins 1aa1abullyReport for the full, 140-page report, but be warned: Some of it is explicit in terms of vulgar language. The broadest conclusion: That Richie Incognito, along with fellow offensive linemen Mike Pouncey and John Jerry, "engaged in a pattern of harrassment" of not only Jonathan Martin but also an unnamed second young lineman and an assistant trainer. In effect, the report finds that Martin was telling the truth and that Incognito was the ringleader of workplace bullying. This conlcudes the Dolphins' three-month internal ordeal, except for possible repercussions to come from the club or the NFL. OK, we have Wells' long-awaited verdict. Now it's time for your's. How important did you find this entire controversy? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

THE LIST: HEAT ALL-STAR SCORING LEADERS: Entering tonight's NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans that will feature LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, seven Miami players in franchise history have combined for 24 all-star appearances. The players (and number of ASGs for Heat) are: Wade (9), James, Bosh, Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning (3 each), Tim Hardaway (2) and Anthony Mason (1). The Top 10 ASG individual scoring performances by a Heat player:

1. James, 36 points, 2012

2. James, 29, 2011

3. Wade, 28, 2010

4. Wade, 24, 2012

5. Wade, 21, 2013

6. Wade, 20, 2006

7. James, 19, 2013

8. Wade, 18, 2009

9. O'Neal, 17, 2006

10. Mourning, 15, 2000

Note: Wade in 2010 was only Heat player to win All-Star MVP award.

ON NBA's ULTIMATE MOUNTAINTOP: JORDAN, MAGIC, BIRD AND LEBRON: More than 2,000 votes rolled in from 40 states and 21 countries for our NBA Mount Rushmore poll in the last blogpost, and making the mountain were Michael Jordan (23.2 percent), Magic Johnson (14.4%), Larry Bird (11.5%) and LeBron James (11.3%). The "second mountain" goes to Bill Russell (10.6%), Wilt Chamberlain (9.4%), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (8.4%) and Oscar Robertson (4.2%). The poll emanating from a Miami-based blog naturally boosted LeBron's cause, although I would note that 51% of the overall votes came from outside Florida, where the largest concentration of Heat fans might be expected. The BIg Four were the same in non-Florida voting as well.

FARTING: ALWAYS FUNNY: Ever wonder how it would be if an Olympic figure skater was audibly farting throughout his routine? (Who hasn't!) Well, the good folks at Ghost Cow Films have your answer. Click HERE for a funny 1-minute vid.

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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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February 10, 2014

Put Tannehill on "short leash"? Poll. Vote!; plus topless Olympian, Michael Sam, Beatles, LeBron dunk show, Puig's dogs, Dumb Starbucks & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today for my landmark 11th national appearance. It's 3-7 on 790 & 104.3 the Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN National. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11. LeBron James says he'd win the All-Star dunk contest if he entered. Well, no duh. Click LeBron Dunk Show for proof; this was after yesterday's Heat practice in Phoenix. 2) Bruce Springsteen playing Sunrise arena on April 29. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Olympics poll, Dolphins draft, Canes QB's actress mom, Marlins projection & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

The Michael Sam column: Click HERE for today's latest column by me, on Michael Sam, the Missouri All-American defensive lineman who revealed his homosexuality and thus is likely to become the NFL's first openly gay player.

ON RYAN TANNEHILL'S (SUPPOSEDLY) SHAKY GROUND: We find ourselves in a time when the vessel for major news being broken might be a 140-character Tweet, perhaps from someone little-known. Even the definition of "news" evolves as competing outlets fight to be first first, and accurate second. Increasingly the sources for "news" are anonymous, a troubling, credibility-corrupting trend. I see it everywhere, including in my own newspaper. It is in this context that I read a recent online column by 1aa1atannphilCBSSports' NFL writer Jason La Canfora. It was an overview of the tough challenges awaiting new Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey, but buried within was a nugget implying that coach Joe Philbin's patience with QB Ryan Tannehill might be fragile. The ever-popular Anonymous Source said that Philbin told potential GM candidates as much in recent interviews. The suggestion is that if Tannehill falters, there might be little hesitation in a move to backup Matt Moore. This is was rather vague speculation standing on the balsa-wood legs of anonymity, yet, of course, it was regurgitated as news, as with this ensuing headline on ESPN.com: Report: Tannehill on shorter leash in 2014. Yes, so now it becomes an "issue," real or not. It becomes a question for Tannehill and Philbin to deal with as the season approaches. Two thoughts. First, if this is true, and I don't assume it is, Philbin was unwise to undermine his starting quarterback to job-seekers from other teams. That's needlessly creating controversy. Second, true or not, coming into this season as all but a declared lame-duck coach puts Philbin in a tough spot. It'll be playoffs-or-bust for him to keep his job (a perception/assumption hardening to fact) and that could lead Philbin to make decisions that are short-sighted, with his own derriere in mind, more than with the club's best long-term interests in mind. There would be no greater example than at QB, where benching Tannehill for Moore might seem smart to win a particular game but might not be smart if you understand that Tannehill, not Moore, is the better long-term solution. For me, Tannehill showed enough progress in Year 2 to not enter Year 3 feeling any "short leash" tightening around his neck. Your thoughts are invited. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

 I'm sorry but I love a topless-Olympian scandal. Always have. Topless photos of Lebanese skier Jackie Chamoun have turned up (see right), which does qualify as a scandal in conservative Lebanon. An investigation has ensued!

ME AND THE BEATLES: Yes, I was alive when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago. I was too young to recall watching, although I've seen the video so many times I think it has
1aa1abeatlewigtransmogrified over time into an adopted memory. Soon after that I'd cajoled my folks into buying me a Beatles wig (pictured) and Beatles boots, both the rage back then. The first singles (45s) I remember buying were the Beatles' "She Loves You," along with "Mr. Tambourine Man" (Byrds), "Dance Dance Dance" (Beach Boys) and "The Locomotion" (Little Eva). The Beatles, Rolling Stones and early Motown populated my early life's soundtrack, but it was the hysteria surrounding the Beatles coming to America that first caught my fascination. I have a vague memory of my mother listening to Elvis Presley music in our house, but it just never hit me the way the Beatles' sound did. I'll always credit the Fab Four for igniting in me what would become a lifelong passion for music. Now I ask you: For those who also love music, who was the artist or group that first caught your ear in a meaningful way, and why? Do you remember the first 45, LP, 8-track, cassette or CD you ever bought?

Poll result: Summer Olympics kick Winter's a--: We asked in the last blogpost how you feel about the Olympics (you may still vote), and you preferred the Summer over the Winter by an almost 6-1 margin, 37.9 percent to 6.4%. Another 30.8% said they liked both, and 24.9% said they don't follow either.

Like many professional athletes young Dodgers star Yasiel Puig lives in the Miami area. He just bought a home in upscale Gables by the Sea, where he is seen walking his two bulldogs and posing with three Columbus High ballplayers. The young athletes obviously were very excited for the opportunity to be photographed standing next to such handsome dogs.

1aa1adumbstar"HEY LET'S GO GET A CARAMEL FLAN LATTE AT DUMB STARBUCKS":  Dig this because the Starbucks lawyers will make sure it doesn't last. There is a newly opened coffee shop in Los Feliz, Cal., outside L.A., called Dumb Starbucks, a self-described "work of parody art" that uses the Starbucks logo. At least until the restraining order kicks in. Every menu item includes the word, as in Dumb Caramel Flan Latte. As a man of the people -- a Dunkin Donuts guy who finds that Starbucks is a bit high-brow and (in the words of Peter Griffin) "insists upon itself" -- I find this parody to be rather brilliant, if undoubtedly short-lived.

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February 07, 2014

The Olympics poll. Last day to vote!; plus Dolphins' draft, Marlins projection, Angela Means, approval for Beckham/MLS & more

1aa1ameoly1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8. Click on RANDOM EVIDENCE for today's latest Sunday notes-column, package, leading with the Winter Olympics. 2) U.S. contingent (right) during the Opening Ceremonies. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Confessions of a soccer fan: David Beckham/MLS and soccer-in-Miami poll, Chad 'n Brad lead UM recruiting class & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

"Heat lose at Utah. Mass though half-hearted panic sweeps Miami!" --Greg Cote

1aa1beatlesThe Beatles: Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' groundbreaking appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I'll offer a new blogpost Monday that will include a retrospective on what the Beatles meant to me, and why.

DELIVER YOUR VERDICT ON OLYMPICS IN GENERAL AS SOCHI GAMES BEGIN: The Winter Games in Sochi commenced officially with Opening Ceremonies including the parade of nations featuring a record 230-athlete U.S. 1aa1aolyscontingent, and now competition is fully underway. I'll admit to being a flag-waving jingoist, which probably drives my interest in the Olympics. Winter or summer, once every
1aa1aolyssochifour years I look forward to watching sports I'd otherwise have zero interest in -- bobsled! -- simply to cheer America vs. the world. But that's just me. You? Not asking here about Russia hosting these Games. This isn't a vote on Vladimir Putin. This is simply asking whether or not you're into the Olympics in general. Take a dip in our poll and say why.

Dueling ESPN draftniks Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay don't agree on much, including who'll go No. 1 overall to Houston in May's NFL Draft. Kiper says QB Johnny Manziel; McShay says DE Jadevon Clowney. But the warring nerds do agree in their latest mock drafts that that, Miami, at No. 19, will select Notre Dame OT Zack Martin (pictured). Seems logical. He's 6-4 and 308, it's a position of desperate need, and he's said to be pro-ready.

1aa1angelameansNEW CANES QB IS SON OF '90S ACTRESS: New Hurricanes QB recruit Brad Kaaya is the son of a minor 1990s actress, Angela Means, whose most notable roles (according to movie website IMDb) were in House Party 3 (1994), Friday (1995) and Cousin Skeeter (1998). It is not believed any of those performances resulted in an OScar, but we're still checking.   

Poll result: Soccer polarizes, but solid support for Beckham/MLS team here: A reminder that soccer tends to be a love it-or-hate it proposition. We asked in the last blogpost (you may still vote) about your interest in David Beckham bringing a Major League Soccer team to Miami, and 46.9 percent said "very excited" but 33.8% said "not interested." The other 19.3% said "somewhat intrigued."

MARLINS: "WE'RE NO. 25!": Spring training is around the corner, and that means it's time to start wondering if the Marlins will be really bad again or movin' on up to mediocre. ESPN in its pre-spring rankings slots Miami 25th of 30 teams and projects a 73-89 record, but calls the Marlins a "deep sleeper" that could potentially win 85 and sneak into ther wild-card hunt.

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January 17, 2014

It's NFL Champ Sunday! Who'll win? Poll. Vote!; plus Charlotte mocks Heat fans, LeBron's b-day words for Wade, IOC's 'anti-American' ruling & more

1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 19. Marlins avoid arbitration with Giancarlo Stanton, sign him to one-year, $6.5 million deal. Smart for both sides. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins hire Lazor as OC with poll, Lauren Tannehill's gun, Heat lose 3rd straight as Oden debuts, LeBroning, Heat White House visit, Clark the Cub & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote and also on Instagram, Vine and Facebook.

Click on Super Sunday Twice for today's column by me previewing the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Also click on Random Evidence for today's Sunday notes-column package leading with the Heat. 

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL CHAMPIONSHIP PLAYOFF PIX: 2 GAMES, 2 UPSETS. OY!: The NFL delivers us Champ Sunday, the best day of football of all. Start with Patriots-Broncos and the 15th edition of Tom 1aa1fripix 1aa1afcnfccgBrady vs. Peyton Manning. Continue with 49ers-Seahawks and the best and most brutal rivalry in the sport. Delicious! Betting odds portend a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl. But I'm predicting a 49ers-Patriots SB with road-'dog upets in both the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Click on Playoff Championship Gems for the expanded prediction capsules on both games. Our usual Friday Page NFL column previewing Sunday's games will appear this week in Sunday's paper (Saturday online). Meantime, I'm curious how many of you agree with me that both Sunday games will be upsets. (I doubt many). Tell me in this poll. This is not asking who you want to win but who you predict will. Vote, say why and check back often to monitor evolving results.

Niners-Seahawks preview from Taiwan: Click HERE for a short Taiwanese animation video on the NFC title game. Strangely, it all makes sense to me.

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS MOCK HEAT FANS: Charlotte's arena played a scoreboard video mocking "bandwagon" Heat fans during last night's game, a Miami win. The club has since removed from YouTube the video that meant to embarrass the Heat but embarrassed the home team instead. Seriously, Charlotte? Really!? Yours is one of the worst franchises in sports history. You are in a position to mock no one about anything.

LEBRON'S BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO D.WADE: Dwyane Wade turns 32 today and Heat teammate LeBron James posted a photo collage of the two of them on Instagram along with this message, shaded 1aa1heat2and verbatim: "Happy Bday to my running mate, homie, brother, and most of all straight up friend! The friendship we've created our rookie year at pre draft camp was pure and that's why we stuck together from that point on! Obviously didn't know we would eventually become teammates and do the things we've done so far. I came to Miami for 2 reasons. To play with U and to win championships and I can't thank u enough for the sacrifice you've made since I arrived homie! No matter what happens in the future we stuck together like brothers for life. And no matter what they say, u still a BAD Mutha-Shut-Yo-Mouth out there on that court! @dwyanewade. Oh almost forgot u old as dirt! Boy you look 40. Hahaha! #TreyBallBDay #YouASuckaOnYoBDay" That's not friendship you can fake. That's real. The chilling part for Heat fans: "No matter what happens in the future..." 

IN DEFENSE OF OLYMPICS' 'ANTI-AMERICAN' RULING: The International Olympic Committee told U.S. women's hockey goalie Jessie Vetter she can't wear her stylized helmet with the words 'We The People' (pictured) during the upcoming Sochi Games. The immediate reaction of any patriotic American might be 1aa1vetterhelmetrighteous indignation, but wait a second. The IOC has a rule against athletes engaging in all forms of "publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise," which makes sense and must be broadly applied to have any weight. Do I personally consider quoting from the preamble of the Consitution to be a play for publicity or to be propaganda? No and no. But it's a short leap from 'We the People' to 'In God We Trust' to 'Right to Bear Arms' to 'Viva Fidel' to 'Pro-Choice' to 'Support Gay Rights' to 'Run Hillary Run!' to 'Hi Mom' to 'Yankees Suck.' You get me? Better to not allow any sort of "statement," however benign, than to have to decide what's OK and isn't from a proliferation of them. Me, I think what it stands for makes 'We The People' one of the greatest phrases ever, but in the context of an international gathering, it is a poltical statement. I do think the Olympics can be a platform to espouse free expression. For example, I encourage U.S. Olympic athletes to criticize host Russia's anti-gay law in interviews if they are of a mind. But I can also see why literally wearing a message on one's sleeve (or hockey helmet) during competition might be prohibited.

Poll result: Broad support for Lazar as new Dolphins' O.C.: Call it Bill Lazor's first win as a Dolphin. We asked in the last blogpost and you answered overwhelmingly in support of Miami hiring Lazor as offensive coordinator. Approval topped 90 percent with 46.7% "leaning favorable" on the hire and 44.5% "very favorable." Only 5.7% (leaning) and 3.1% (very) were unfavorable.

FINDING JEFF GILLOOLY: With the Winter Olympics near and a new documentary out on Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding, reporter Amy K. Nelson tracked down Jeff Gillooly, who infamously masterminded the knee-capping of Kerrigan on Harding's behalf. Gillooly is now Jeff Stone, living in Oregon. Fascinating piece. Read it HERE.

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