June 29, 2016

What's likelihood Heat will land Durant? Poll. Vote now!; plus Spoelstra getting contract extension, latest Back In My Day, Caitlyn Jenner, Euro '16 quarterfinals, Summitt/Ryan deaths, your verdict on Miami's next sports champ & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Caitlynjenner1) It is WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29. Pictured is Caitlyn Jenner (nee Bruce) on the cover of the new Sports Illustrated magazine's annual "Where Are They Now?' issue. The funny thing there? Like there's anybody in America who doesn't know what this particular person has been up to lately!? 2) Does anybody really believe Lionel Messi has played his last game for Argentina? Yeah, me neither. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Who's next champion among Miami's Big 5 teams with poll, Hot Button Top 10, your verdict on naked athletes & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, the latest, and that tagline says it all. Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

Spoelstra getting extension from Heat: Miami and Erik Spoelstra are "progressing on completion of a multiyear contract extension," The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported. Spo's current deal is to expire after the 2016-17 season. His 399-241 record since taking over in 2008 ranks seventh in wins among active NBA coaches, but second only to San Antonio's Gregg Popovich for most victories with one team.

The new Back In My Day: Our latest "Back In My Day" segment from the LeBatard Show is on yesterday's ESPN Radio podcast right here. The BIMD starts right around the 1-hour mark. I wasn't too sure about this one, but the show crew and listeners seemed to love it. 

"Things I think about: Mustn't there be dozens of people in the world -- and likely a lot more -- named Zika?"  --Greg Cote

Durant1 DurantHOW LIKELY THAT THE HEAT LAND THE WHALE KEVIN DURANT?: NBA free agency starts Friday (midnight Thursday) and Miami is one of six teams announced so far as securing an audience with No. 1 prize Kevin Durant. This is what Pat Riley does. Short of celebrating a Heat championship, getting in the room with a free-agent whale is the professional turn-on for the Heat's president and deal-closer. Nobody does this better than Riley. However! The betting odds are that Durant will ultimately choose to stay with Oklahoma City. And if he doesn't, the consensus of experts is that Golden State would be the likely destination. Plainly, Miami seems a real underdog in the Durant Sweepstakes, and yet that little voice keeps whispering the name of Riley and picturing him flashing all of those rings at Durant. I'm curious about the realistic feelings and expectations of Heat fans as free agency nears. The poll isn't asking what you hope happens, obviously, but what you honestly see as the Miami's chances of landing Durant. Vote and check back frequently for evolving results.

Euro16ON THE EURO '16 QUARTERFINALS: First, the BREXIT vote. Now England shockingly falls to Iceland -- Iceland! -- in the Euro '16 round of 16, one of the greatest upsets in international soccer history. Now, onto the quarterfinals in the biggest soccer tournament outside of the World Cup: Poland vs. Portugal, Thursday--Portugal, at 7-1 odds to win it all (via oddschecker.com) and No. 8 in the FIFA World Ranking, a clear favorite over 20-1/No. 27 Poland. Wales vs. Belgium, Friday--Belgium, at 4-1 odds and No. 2 in the world, an even larger fave over 20-1/No. 26 Wales. Germany vs. Italy, Saturday--Germany, co-favorite at 3-1 and ranked No. 4, a narrow favorite over 13-2/No. 12 Italy in a duel of international powers -- probably the one quarterfinal I'd choose to watch if I could watch but one. France-Iceland, Sunday--France, co-fave at 3-1, ranked No. 17 and the host national team, an enormous pick over 40-1/No. 34 Cinderella Iceland.

ON THE DEATHS PAT SUMMITT, BUDDY RYAN: The legendary Tennessee women's basketball coach and former NFL coach have passed away within hours of each other, Summitt at 64 from Patsummittcomplications of Alzeimer's disease, and Ryan at 85 after battling a stroke and cancer. A few thoughts... On Summitt: Won more college basketball games, 1,098, than anybody, man or women, and led the Lady Vols to eight national championships in 38 seasons. Summitt (pictured) was a pioneer in women's sports, and an any-gender, all-sports legend in coaching. I wonder if she was ever aware that her son, Tyler, was forced to resign as Louisiana Tech women's basketball coach earlier this year over an inappropriate relationship with a player. I hope not. Her good name stands unblemished, for all time. On Ryan: The father of Bills head coach Rex Ryan, Buddy reached his coaching pinnacle as defensive coordinator for the 1985 champion Bears, but the head-coaching career that followed was less successful. He was 55-55-1, and 0-3 in the postseason. Like his son, Buddy was controversial and not entirely popular. I can tell you, for example, that Don Shula did not like him. Anyway, R.I.P., twice. A rough year for deaths, 2016, and we're only halfway through.

Poll result: Canes football, Panthers hockey lead in South Florida optimism: We asked which of South Florida's Big 5 sports teams is most like to win a championship next, and it was Hurricanes football 29.92 percent, Panthers 28.28%, Heat 19.67%, Dolphins 12.70% and Marlins 9.43%. Observations: Panthers led most of the way and had what for me is the most impressive result overall. Marlins have to be the most disappointing considering they are, as we speak, on playoff pace. We had the same poll in July 2014. Here is the change in two years, in order of plus/minus:

Team                              +/-       2016     2014

Panthers                    +25.28    28.28     3.00

Dolphins                     +4.52     12.70      8.18

Marlins                        -2.16       9.43    11.59

Canes football            -9.83     29.92    39.75

Heat                            -17.80     19.67     37.47

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

June 27, 2016

Who's closest? Will Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football, Marlins or Panthers be champions next? Poll too close to call. Last day to vote!: plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your verdict on naked athletes & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JUNE 27. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Athletes getting naked poll, Cavs/Cubs/Dolfans, Dolphins helping Orlando, aggressive Panthers, Heat's Top 5 undrafted finds, Canes diving, your verdict on LeBron's future, R.I.P. Vinyl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Monday: I co-hosted on the LeBatard Show today this week instead of Tuesday. Thanks for listening/watching!

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so great they deserved another look: Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has, the new one, on Heat's imperative to keep Whiteside as it dreams of Duran. Cavs, Cubs Offer Hope For Dolfans, musing on how Cleveland's championship and season Cubs are having proves even long-starving fans get fed eventually. Ichiro's Milestone is Huge Whether Rose Agrees Or Not, on Ichiro's hits achievement. Ali Legacy Should Include Other Athletes' Thanks, on Ali setting template for sports. A Baseball Odyssey Finds Its Mountaintop, on local kid Richard Bleier's long climb to Yankees. Nobody Wins When a 55-Year Marriage Ends In Divorce, on PGA Tour leaving Doral.

THE MIAMI BIG 5 TEAM MOST LIKELY TO NEXT BE CHAMPION IS...: This poll topic last appeared in our blog in July 2014. Two years later, it's time to take another pulse-read. During the Heat's Nextchamp Big5Big 3 era the answer was pretty obvious. Now? It's open to honest debate. The Heat remain competitive, but now the Marlins are legitimately in the playoff hunt, the Dolphins and Canes football are hopeful with well-received coaching changes, and you could argue the Panthers' core of rising young talent makes the Cats closest to a title of all our teams. The playing field for this question has leveled. (For the purposes of the vote, let's not assume the Heat will somehow land Kevin Durant in free agency, a longshot). The timing for this poll also is right, with baseball going on, basketball and hockey just ended, and football about to gear up. I'm not sure if there is an easy or obvious answer here, or a bad one. That is what makes picking one team tough, but that is your challenge. Your other challenge: To not make it a favorite-team or favorite-sport vote. It isn't. Not asking who you most hope has a parade next, but who you honestly think is most likely to. In other words, who your money would be on in a straight-up wager. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (JUNE 26): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Durant, Whiteside in spotlight with free agency on deck for Miami: Well, Dwyane Wade posed nude in ESPN mag's Body issue. Anything else going on with the Heat? Oh, yeah. Almost forgot. Free agency starts in five days, and Heat's priorities are getting a meeting with Kevin Durant and and re-signing Hassan Whiteside. Click on Whale-Watching Riley Better Keep the Whale He Has for my column, on how club should make Whiteside the imperative as it chases the longshot dream of Durant.

2. MARLINS: Exciting times for Fish as Cubs visit wraps up: Marlins won three of four from the Cubs, are in playoff hunt, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich should join Jose Fernandez as all-stars, Giancarlo Stanton is heating up and Ichiro nears 3,000 hits. Pretty damned good time to be a Fish fan, folks.

3. SOCCER: Copa America wraps up, Euro '16 heads to quarters: Chile upset Argentina on Sunday for Copa crown (U.S. lost third-place game Saturday), and now Euro '16 begins its quarterfinals on Thursday. England plays the last round-of-16 game Monday and should win, unless Brits vote to exit tournament. 

4. PANTHERS: Cats sign Yandle, add draft picks: Wheelin'-dealin' Florida signed all-star defenseman Keith Yandle to a seven-year, $44 million deal, traded Dmitri Kuliokov, and had the 23rd and 33rd picks early in NHL Draft, according to analyst Pierre Kiper Jr. I bet big they'd draft two white teenagers you'd never heard of. How'd I do?

5. NBA: Free agency extends busy time for league: Cleveland has a championship parade, Derrick Rose and Serge Ibaka get traded, the draft is held, and now free agency is on deck with Kevin Durant the big prize. Otherwise, a slow week for the NBA.

6. HURRICANES: UM football investigating four for NCAA infractions: Miami suspended linebacker Juwon Young and is investigating three others for possible NCAA rules violations in a deal struck with a local auto dealer to use luxury cars. On the bright side, Nevin Shapiro has the ultimate alibi (jail) and was in no way involved.

7. COLLEGE BASEBALL: Out in Omaha: UM fizzles at CWS: No. 3 seed Miami and No. 1 Florida both ingloriously were ousted fast from the College World Series. Good seasons, bad endings. The best of three final is pedigreed Arizona vs. upstart Coastal Carolina. Oh, Canes. What a missed chance!

8. TENNIS: Wimbledon begins on Monday: Wimbledon runs Monday though July 10. The favorites are Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. Or, did that go without saying?

9. JOHNNY MANZIEL: Lawyer's goof latest problem for troubled QB: Manziel's lawyer accidentally texted private information about his drug use and case strategy to the Associated Press. Who's worse, Johnny or his lawyer? At least the attorney didn't text the world's largest news-gathering agency or anything (!).

10. STRIKERS: Fort Lauderdale alive in U.S. Cup Open: Soccer's all-comers U.S. Open Cup finds the Strikers facing MLS team Orlando City up there this Wednesday. Go Bumblebees!

Missing the cut: USA basketball completed its LeBron-less Olympics roster for Rio, pending the future withdrawal of several players with Zika concerns or fake injuries ..... Congrats again to Mr. Paula Gretzky for winning last week's U.S. Open in golf ..... Anybody know when ESPN's O.J.Simpson documentary starts? Haven't heard anything about it ..... The Dolphins will be out of the news for a month or so, pending the arrest of a player at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub ..... Dear United Kingdom: You all seemed like pretty smart people, until that BREXIT vote. What were you thinking!? ..... Coral Springs' LPGA star, Lexi Thompson, 21, is No. 4 in the world and just made the Olympic team. When I was 21 my biggest accomplishment was buying the new Led Zeppelin album ..... Cycling's Tour de France begins next Saturday. Gentlemen, start your doping! ..... Ex-Miami Hurricane Sam Dorman made the Olympic team in synchronized diving, surprising analysts who had no idea there was such a sport.

Poll result: Enough, you narcissistic naked athletes!: We asked what best reflects your opinion of athletes (now including Dwyane Wade) posing nude for ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Body' issue, and a plurality of 44.7 percent voted "negative. However 30.8% voted "positive," 13.3% were undecided and 11.2% voted "depends who the athlete is."

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day...

Twitter @gregcote

May 30, 2016

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated); plus who's feeling most heat in South Florida sports? 12 choices, you pick 3. Poll. Vote!; also, Memorial Day, long climb of Richard Bleier, extraordinary life of Charley Winner, your verdict on SB turf wars & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Memorialday1) It is MONDAY, MAY 30. Remembering and honoring America's war dead on this Memorial Day. We are the land of the free because of the  brave, and these were the bravest. See our Memorial Day tribute video below. 2) Thoughts and best wishes to former Hurricanes receiver Brett Perriman on his recovery in Atlanta from a stroke. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Turf Wars on Super Bowl name with poll, rooting for LeBron, your preferred NBA Finals matchup & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: The Under Pressure 12, the new one, listing the dozen South Florida sports figures most under pressure. The Long and Extraordinary Life of Charley Winner, catching up with the longtime former Dolphins executive. Whale Watching Expedition, on how Heat's best shot for a chance at Kevin Durant or LeBron James this summer is for Miami fans to hope LeBron wins the NBA title.

PressureUNDER PRESSURE: WHO'S FEELING THE HEAT IN SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS: My latest Sunday column (click The Under Pressure 12 to read in full) explores the topic of pressure and lists the dozen South Florida sports figures who are or should be feeling the most of it. The reason vary, starting with No. 1 on our list, Chris Bosh, whose medical situation puts him under a much different pressure than Ryan Tannehill, who must win, or Giancarlo Stanton, who must perform to the tune of $325 million. Everyone has his own definition of pressure in sports and their own thoughts on who's under it. I am curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll, the dozen choices listed alphabetically, and vote for the three (3) you think are or should be under the most pressure. Then check back often to monitor evolving results.

Vote for your top three (3):

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SUPER BOWL: NFL rewards Stephen Ross, names Dolphins stadium as 2020 SB host: Miami and a refurbished, canopied Dolphins stadium in 2020 will host its first Super Bowl since 2010, thanks to a vote of NFL owners this week. Your city hosting a Super Bowl? Good. Your city playing in one? Infinitely better.

2. NBA: LeBron awaits Oklahoma City-Golden State Game 7 winner tonight: Well, Heat fans are guaranteed at least four more games to cheer or boo. LeBron's in the Finals! The question is who Cleveland will face, with Oklahoma City going to a Game 7 at Golden State tonight. LeBron vs. Kevin Durant or LeBron vs. Steph Curry. Fans can't lose.

3. MARLINS: Jose en fuego; Fish finally figure out Braves: Miami is hanging within striking distance of playoff contention and one reason is ace Jose Fernandez, who in last four starts has allowed three runs with 43 strikeouts in 27 innings. Fish are back home this week and Jose pitches Tuesday. Meanwhile Miami finally figured out Atlanta. Before yesterday the Braves had been are 5-0 vs. Miami, 9-34 against everybody else.

4. SOCCER: Real Madrid reigns, now Copa America on deck: It was Real Madrid beating Atletico Madrid on penalties Saturday after a 1-1 game in the UEFA Champions League final. Now comes Copa America June 3-26 in 10 U.S. cities, with the U.S. team debuting this coming Friday vs. Colombia. A championship by the hosts? That’s the goooooaaaaalll!

5. NHL: It’s a Pittsburgh-San Jose Stanley Cup Finals: NHL begins to reveal its next champion with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight. San Jose is making its first SCF appearance. Pittsburgh is in its fifth, including titles in 1991, 1992, 2009.

6. AUTO RACING: Rookie wins centennial Indianapolis 500: NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 ran, too, but the Indy 500 is the one day Indy-car racing owns the sport of auto racing. Especially when it happens to be the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," won Sunday by rookie Alexander Rossi.

7. CANES BASEBALL: UM falls short in ACC, but named regional host: The No. 3-ranked and top-seeded Miami Hurricanes failed to reach Sunday's ACC Tournament championship game, but still were named an NCAA Regional host as expected. Today the Canes learn which other teams will be here. For UM, as always, the Regionals mean one thing. Omaha or bust.

8. TENNIS: Serena, Djokovic in line for milestones at midpoint of French Open: A title by Serena Williams would tie Steffi Graf's open-era record of 22 majors, while a French title is the only major that has eluded Novak Djokovic, whose path cleared when Rafael Nadal withdrew with a wrist injury.

9. DOLPHINS: Fins continue offseason OTA practices: The next ones are Tuesday through Thursday. OTA stands for "organized team activities," which always sounds to me like something that should involve arts and crafts, like making a log cabin out of popsicle sticks.

10. PANTHERS: Cats trade Gudbranson, plan unveiling: Florida continued to fix what wasn't broke, trading young defenseman Erik Gudbranson. This Thursday the club unveils its new logo and uniforms. Team will look different next season. Question is whether they'll look like a team ready to win a playoff series for first time since 1996.

Missing the cut: Canes football coach Mark Richt is donating $1 million toward the school's new indoor practice facility. Richt hasn't coached a game yet, but he keeps winning. ..... It took eight games but NASL  expansion team Miami FC earned its first victory, 1-0 over Edmonton. Congrats, I think ..... Chris Berman will step down from his current role at ESPN after this coming football season, meaning he won't be backbackbackbackback ..... Quick aside to Koa Misi: Nothing good ever happens outside a nightclub at 3:40 a.m. ..... Heat lost without playing as Erik Spoelstra's top assistant, David Fizdale, headed to Memphis ..... Scandal-plagued Baylor fired football coach Art Briles over his handling of sexual assault charge against players, and Ole Miss self-imposed sanctions for rules violations. The 'C' in NCAA stands for cheating, right? ..... Tom Brady is appealing his four-game Deflategate suspension. You get the feeling Brady will be retired and perhaps dead and this thing will still be going on in the courts ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee ended in a tie, with one finalist stymied by the word "feldenkrais" and the other by "gesellschaft." I'm still trying to figure out how to spell "Krzyzewski" ..... Jose Mourinho is the new savior at Manchester United. Until he loses his first math ..... Colombia beat Haiti 3-1 yesterday at Marlins Park. I wonder if soccer fans booed Jeffrey Loria just on principle? ..... There is increasing media speculation that Tiger Woods may never play again, one more reason to hope he does ..... Sport Name of the Week: Last week's LPGA tournament runnerup, So Oh ..... Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity apologized for paying the rapper Ludacris $65,000 for a 13-minute performance at Bulldogs' spring game. Ludicrous! ..... Canada beat Finland 2-0 to win the world hockey championships in Moscow. "We'd rather have the Stanley Cup back," said Canada in unison ..... Miami Gun Show ended Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Yes, because, if there is one thing we need more of in Miami, it's guns!

RICHARD BLEIER: A LONG CLIMB, BUT HE MADE IT: Richard Bleier, a local kid who played ball at South Plantation High, this week became a major-league rookie at age 29, after a career's climb through the minor leagues. He is wearing New York Yankees pinstripes this weekend as the team that called him up on Thursday plays in Tampa Bay. He did not pitch in that series; his MLB debut could come tonight in Toronto. BleierHis Dad, Lawrence, is from the Bronx and grew up a Mickey Mantle-era Yankees fans, so this is all as exciting for him as it for his son. "It's a dream come true," Lawrence told the Fort Myers News-Press. (Richard pitched in college for Florida Gulf Coast there). "He’s been very level-headed about everything. He’s excited, but he has anticipated this day for a long time. So here he is. How long he will be there, we don’t know. Whatever it is, he’ll be a major leaguer. It’ll be in the baseball encyclopedia." Richard said in a text, "It's an awesome feeling. I've worked my entire life to get here." Richard was a teammate of my son Christopher's at South Plantation High, where I announced the games from a purple-painted wood pressbox overlooking home plate. Richard was a lanky lefthanded pitcher, rather stoic, prone to being a bit too hard on himself. His father would sometimes come up into the press box and kibitz for an inning or two. Since those days Richard has spent the last 10 or 12 years climbing, pitching, dreaming. He will wear uniform No. 50, and pitch out of the bullpen for the Yankees. I hope his stay in the big leagues lasts as long as it took him to finally get there, but perseverance is its own reward. As his Dad noted, no matter how long his stay, his name will be in the baseball encyclopedia now. No matter how long his stay, he made it. Congratulations, Richard.

Poll result: 'Miami' swamps 'South Florida' when it comes to Super Bowl: We asked what is the best title for the 2020 NFL championship game awarded this week, and it was 75.7 percent for 'Miami Super Bowl' and 24.3% for 'South Florida Super Bowl.'

REMEMBERING AND HONORING AMERICA'S WAR DEAD: This video is called "50,000 Names Carved In the Wall," by country legend George Jones. It about about the Vietnam Memorial, but its message reaches across all generations, wars and all who made the ultimate sacrifice. If you can watch this video without tearing up, you are a stronger person than I. (For those in a sentimental or patriotic mood today, I also recommend "Ragged Old Flag," by Johnny Cash). 

 Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 16, 2016

Successful Heat season? Yes or no? New poll. Vote now!; plus Miami done 1 win shy of LeBron in 116-89 loss at Toronto; also, Winslow 6th in rookie vote, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your NBA favorite (no duh), history of Heat G7s & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, MAY 16. Heat's Justise Winslow today finished 6th in NBA rookie of the year voting, won in a landslide by Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 6, NBA favorite poll, Heat playoff foes list & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Small Ball, Big Win, the latest, off Friday's Heat Game 6 home win. Heat is America's Underdog, on how injuries and obstacles have cast Miami in an unaccustomed role. Be Careful What You Wish For, from Heat's Game 4 home win.

G7: TORONTO 117, HEAT 89: CLOBBERED! DONE. MIAMI'S SEASON ENDS ONE WIN SHY OF MEETING LEBRON: Clobbered. Out and done. Miami's injury-marred playoff run ended abruptly in Toronto Sunday in a decisive Game 7 loss to the Raptors in the NBA's Eastern semifinals -- the Heat falling one win short of meeting LeBron James and Cleveland in the next round. Heat lived by the small-ball to win Game 6 and died by it Sunday, outrebounded big, 50-30. Raptors also dominated in free throw attempts, 43-23. Toronto's aggressive defense kept any one Heat player from standing out, with Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade leading Miami with a modest 16 points each. Meanwhile Toronto's guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 63. This had been a tight, even series in every game. But not today. Hard to argue the better team did not advance. ..... Original post: This is why we love sports, right? Today. This. A winner-take-all Game 7. Loser gets an offseason. Winner gets LeBron James in an NBA Eastern finals starting Tuesday in Cleveland. Tipping off at 3:30 p.m. today up in Canada, the Raptors try to reach the East finals for the first time, Miator G7while the Heat try to be the first team ever to erase 3-2 deficits in two straight postseason series. "This is why we're in this business, to be challenged," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And there is no greater challenge than a Game 7." The pressure is on the Raptors today, as the favored home team and higher seed -- magnified by Toronto's 2-6 record in elimination games. A big question is if Miami will continue to play the small-ball that won Game 6, featuring mostly guards and small forwards on the court. With Chris Bosh out and Hassan Whiteside still out, Udonis Haslem and Amar'e Stoudemire did not play at all in Game 6 and Josh McRoberts played only 19  minutes. I'd expect more of the same today. Why change? The Heat are 7-1 in their last eight elimination games and going for a fifth straight today. Somebody's season ends today. Somebody else moves on. America will be watching. And so will LeBron.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami falls at Toronto in Game 7, one win shy of LeBron: Heat and Raptors kept rest of NBA waiting but final four finally is now set with Sunday's Miami Game 7 loss in Toronto. Winner gets Cleveland, which has been waiting an extra long time after a four-game sweep. Raptors best hope now? That LeBron’s rest has turned to rust.

2. MARLINS: Fish trying to stay hot on the road: Miami has now won 15 of its past 21 games including two straight at Washington with another strong effort by Jose Fernandez (5-2) on Sunday in midst of a seven-game road trip. It was a seven-game road win streak in late April that began the turnaround. Considering team's recent paltry home crowds, Fish may be better off heading to the airport than to Marlins Park.

3. NBA: It's three-fourths a marquee final four: It'll be MVP Steph Curry's Golden State vs. Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City in the West finals starting tonight. East finals begin Tuesday, with LeBron James' Cleveland awaiting Toronto. How much did Dwyane Wade want to complete a starry final-four quartet? (Meantime San Antonio was eliminated but Gregg Popovich is still looking for a reporter to rudely yell at).

4. PANTHERS: Cats make odd staff changes including Tallon: Florida fired a club a vice president, its director of hockey and an assistant coach among others. But the oddest move was Tom Rowe being named general manager with GM Dale Tallon bumped up to president of hockey operations. Tallon has turned around the Cats since arriving in 2010. If he is losing power any in this move, it's a bad one.

5. NHL: Fight for Stanley Cup down to final four: Tampa Bay leads Pittsburgh 1-0 in the East finals and St. Louis leads San Jose 1-0 in the West finals. Time now for our northern neighbor's national anthem: No, Canada.

6. HORSE RACING: Gulfstream announces major new race: The second leg of Triple Crown, The Preakness, is in five days, but Gulfstream made headlines this week in announcing the inaugural Pegasus World Cup would be run in January with a $12 million payout -- five times that of Kentucky Derby. Who said horse racing’s dead?

7. UM FOOTBALL: Canes moving closer to building indoor practice facility: This apparently is a big deal. Maybe UM will have better luck than the Dolphins, who built their indoor "bubble" facility in 2006 and have had one winning season in the 10 years since.

8. DOLPHINS: Officials insist renovated stadium will be done in time: Dolphins officials announced that massive stadium renovations currently underway are on schedule and would be done before the Aug. 25 home exhibition opener. Said anyone who has driven past the construction site lately: "Yeah, right."

9. WNBA: Women's league opens its 20th season: The WNBA's anniversary season opened Saturday but league still may not be entirely in the mainstream. Put it this way. If you know the defending champions are the Minnesota Lynx, chances are pretty good you live in Minnesota.

10. GOLF: Day dominates, wins The Players Championship: World No. 1 Jason Day was in charge with a wire-to-wire victory in the electrical storm-delayed Players Championship outside Jacksonville. They sometimes call this the "fifth major," although the four majors laugh to themselves at that.

Missing the cut: George Zimmerman continues to be a raging idiot. Updates as warranted ..... UM women's tennis is hosting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament and has reached Sweet 16 as Greg Cote continues a long-standing tradition of never having seen a single minute of college tennis played live ..... That reminds me, UM baseball season has flown, with Sunday the next-to-last regular season home game for the 3rd-ranked Canes ..... Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of the Madden NFL 17 video game. They want the most realistic depiction possible, so I imagine he'll be shown holding a cocktail in one hand and a blond in the other ..... Peyton Manning secretly visited Dolphins HQ earlier this spring to counsel Ryan Tannehill. What, Dan Marino has been fired as ceremonial mentor? ..... The Dolphins signed ex-Lions DE Jason Jones, and nobody thought much of it ..... UFC 198 was Saturday. That's UFC CXCVIII to our Roman friends ..... Soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his man ponytail are leaving Paris Saint-Germain ..... The Cubs are off to the best start by any MLB team since 1984. Chicagoans are bracing for inevitable disappointment ..... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson continues collecting LPGA wins at age 21. When Greg Cote was 21, he was the first on his block to own a Pet Rock ..... I Googled the phrase "match made in hell" and saw the Las Vegas Raiders ..... The expansion Miami FC was NASL's only winless team entering Saturday play. Welcome to the league! ..... Canyon Barry, son of Hurricanes basketball legend Rick Barry, chose to transfer to Florida over UM, begging the question, "Who names their son Canyon?!" ..... UM's Sheldon McClellan was a late invitee to the NBA Draft combine ending Sunday in Chicago. Sheldon -- now there's a real first name ..... That reminds me. FIFA appointed a woman, Fatma Samoura, as secretary general. How about it, ladies? Why has the name Fatma not caught on in America? ..... And in other news, the entire country of Russia has tested positive for doping.

Poll result: No duh. Warriors the favorite for NBA championship: We asked which of the first three teams through to the conference finals will win the NBA title and it was Golden State 82.4 percent, Cleveland 11.5% and Oklahoma City 6.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT GAME 7'S: Today will be the 10th Game 7 in Heat playoff history. Ranking all 10 in order of importance based on how deep into the postseason they ocurred:

Year    Round                    Result

2013   NBA Finals            W vs Spurs 95-88

2012   Eastern finals         W vs Celtics 101-88

2013   Eastern finals         W vs Pacers 99-76

2005   Eastern finals         L vs Pistons 88-82

1997   Conference semis   W vs Knicks 101-90

2000   Conference semis   L vs Knicks 83-82

2016   Conference semis   L @ Raptors 116-89

2004   First round             W vs NO Hornets 85-77

2009   First round             L @ Hawks 91-78

2016   First round             W vs CHA Hornets 106-73

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 12, 2016

G5: Toronto 99, Heat 91: Battered, beaten and a season on fumes; plus is Stephen Curry an all-time great (poll; vote now); also, Wade in club playoff scoring annals, Canes football ranked and Kiper on Kaaya, Mike Pouncey's next career & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 12. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat win Game 4 in overtime to even series, Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

"More than 3,000 cannabis industry executives, investors and enthusiasts are in Orlando attending this week's Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, which started late because munchies-stricken attendees were flocked around food trucks parked outside the event." --Greg Cote

G5: TORONTO 99, HEAT 91: OY! MIAMI MUST WIN TWO STRAIGHT NOW TO ADVANCE: Miami falls behind 9-0 in Game 5 and never leads. Dwyane Wade held to 20 points and (as usual) gets too little help. Luol Deng suffers wrist injury. TOR's DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry wake up with 59 combined points. This is why Miami is now down 3-2 and having to win Friday at home and Sunday back in Toronto in a Game 7. This Heat team is just seeming too depleted. No Chris Bosh, no Hassan Whiteside and now perhaps no Deng is too much. I may be wrong, but it is feeling as if the Heat is done in this round. ..... Original post: Do you hate those Raptors fans' "We The North" shirts as much as I do? Such a weird combination of nonsensical, ungrammatical and arrogant -- the latter thoroughly unearned considering club has never in its history advanced past this round. Wonder of those same fans will be booing Dwyane Wade tonight for his Game 3 faux pas in continuing to warm up during the singing of O Canada? (Rhetorical question. Yes! is the answer). OK, on to the game, obviously a huge one in a series G5
Heatatrapstied 2-2. Miami must find a way to win at Toronto either tonight or in a Game 7, so you'd think tonight would be the prime shot. That would allow Miami to avoid a road Game 7 by closing it out at home Friday night. Goran Dragic will be playing tonight despite  being given a technical and fined $2,000 for taking a swing (he missed) at Raptors guard Cory Joseph in the last game. With Hassan Whiteside (knee) out again tonight the Heat will need more from Dragic and Joe Johnson because Dwyane Wade (38 and 30 the past two games) is probably due a mortal night, though he said, "I'm as confident as I've been all season now." Also, chances are either DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry (a combined 6-for-28 last game) will have a big back-to-form showing at home tonight. It will be interesting to see how much "small ball" coach Erik Spoelstra opts for again tonight. Miami had success in Game 4 playing with Luol Deng, Wade, Dragic, Johnson and Justise Winslow. Those five played only three minutes together the entire season but were on the court 10 minutes last game.

History: Heat now 0-5 all-time in road Game 5s when series at 2-2: Here's a franchise streak Miami hoped to end last night: 0-4 all-time on the road in Game 5s when a series is tied 2-2. Miami lost Game 5 away and also lost the series to Atlanta in 1994, Indiana in 2004 and Atlanta in 2009. However, Miami lost Game 5 at San Antonio in the 2013 NBA Finals but went on to win two straight and the championship. Last night made it 0-5 in that situation.

CurryIS IT TIME TO ANOINT STEPHEN CURRY ONTO NBA'S ALL-TIME GREATS ECHELON?: This was a big debate on the radio show yesterday, with LeBatard saying it was time now to start considering Curry among the all-time greats, and me arguing he needs to do what he's doing at least a few more years before he enters that Michael Jordan / LeBron James conversation. Curry is 28, in his seventh season but only third as a full-fledged star. Today he was named league MVP for the second straight year in the first-ever unanimous vote. There is little doubt he has usurped LeBron as the NBA's best active player, with a 3-point game that is helping to revolutionize the sport. The question is whether he has done enough to this point to be in the all-time, best-of-the-best discussion. So take a dip in our poll, and check back often to monitor evolving results.

MIKE POUNCEY: BROADCASTER?: Dolphins starting center Mike Pouncey is among 25 current and former NFL players who have signed up to participate in the league's 10th annual "Broadcast Boot Camp," an annual four-day camp for players who are considering a post-career career in broadcasting. This one takes place May 16-19) at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, N.J. Sessions include hands-on work in tape study, editing, studio and show preparation, radio production, production meetings and field reporting. Each player will tape segments as a game analyst and field reporter and also have a chance to serve as a live guest host on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Pouncey is 26. Points for planning ahead.

ESPN RANKS HURRICANES FOOTBALL NO. 24 IN NATION: ESPN's post-spring football Top 25 college rankings are out today with Alabama-Clemson-Michigan 1-2-3 and the Miami Hurricanes 24sneaking in at 24th. (Full list here). ESPN's synopsis of UM coming off an 8-5 season and now led by new coach Mark Richt: "The Hurricanes will have to stay healthy and get a few breaks to make a lot of noise in Richt's first season coaching his alma mater. But with Brad Kaaya leading the offense and a formidable front leading the defense, there's reason for optimism. Miami will have to solidify its offensive line and get some help from incoming freshmen and juco receivers. There are also concerns about depth on defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary, where all four starters must be replaced. Early enrollees Shaq Quarterman and Michael Pinckney are expected to start at linebacker in coordinator Manny Diaz's aggressive scheme." Miami 2016 ranked opponents are Florida State(4th), Notre Dame (9th) and North Carolina (19th). The Georgia team Richt left is ranked 13th.

Kaaya among five state players on Kiper's first 2017 draft 'Big Board': Hurricanes QB Brad Kaaya is ranked 13th on Mel Kiper's first 2017 NFL Draft 'Big Board' for ESPN today. Other state players on it are Gators CB Jalen Tabor (8th), Seminoles OT Roderick Johnson (10th), FSU DE DeMarcus Walker (19th) and Florida OLB Jarrad Davis (21st). Says Kiper of Kaaya: "A talented quarterback with a big arm, touch and growing poise as he reads the whole field. He continues to get better."

THE LIST: WADE AMONG HEAT'S BEST POSTSEASON PERFORMANCES: That Dwyane Wade has scored 38 and 30 in back to back games and is averaging 22 points this postseason at age 34 is not the best testament to his greatness. This is: He has had seven other postseasons -- seven! -- that have been better based on scoring averages, and some by a lot. Sixteen times a Heat player has averaged 20-plus points in a postseason, and eight times it's been Wade. Miami's 20-plus playoff kings:

Avg.        Player                    Year    G-Pts. (High)

33.20      Dwyane Wade        2010   5-166 (46)

30.30      LeBron James        2012   23-697 (45)

29.14      Wade                     2009   7-204 (41)

28.43      Wade                     2006   23-654 (43)

27.43      Wade                     2005   14-384 (42)

27.40      James                    2014   20-548 (49)

26.00      Tim Hardaway       1998   5-130 (34)

25.91      James                    2013   23-596 (37)

24.52      Wade                     2011   21-515 (38)

23.67      James                    2011   21-497 (35)

23.50      Wade                     2007   4-94 (28)

22.83      Wade                     2012   23-525 (41)

21.83      Wade                     2016   12-262 (38) 

21.60      Alonzo Mourning  2000  10-216 (29)

21.60      Mourning              1999   5-108 (27)

20.67      Rony Seikaly         1992  3-62 (26)

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 10, 2016

G4: Heat 94, Toronto 87: Wade rescues Miami, ties series as Heat climb uphill to become 'America's Underdog'; plus Radio Tuesday, latest Hot Button Top 10, Wade dethrones Marino & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 10. Hope you made it a happy Mother's Day! I was missing my own mother this year but so thankful for the wonderful mom of my two sons! 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat lose Game 3 despite Wade's 38, Marino vs. Wade poll, Tunsil channels Kooch, history of Heat OT playoff games & more. 3) Heat's Pat Riley ties for 8th in NBA executive of year voting won by Spurs' R.C. Buford. 4) ESPN announces Sean McDonough will replace Mike Tirico in its  Monday Night Football booth. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. locally on 790 The Ticket, 10-1 nationally on ESPN Radio, and simulcasting on Fusion TV and ESPNU.

We'll have a brand new blogpost coming later today, post radio show. A college professor once insisted to me "brand new" was redundant. I never learn. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Be Careful What You Wish For, the latest, from last night's Heat Game 4 home win. Wade: A Little Help, Please?, off the Game 3 home loss. Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend.

G4: HEAT 94, TORONTO 87 (OT): WADE'S 30 CARRIES MIAMI TO 2-2 SERIES TIE AS HEAT BECOME AMERICA'S UNDERDOG: One-man-show Dwyane Wade hit 30 points as Miami escaped at home last night to tie this series 2-2 as it heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. Raptors still own the home-court edge and Heat must find a way to win at least one of two games in Toronto to advance and earn the dubious right to face a rested, hot LeBron and Cleveland in the next round. Be careful what you wish for, Miami. Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column from the Game 4 victory. What do I mean by "America's Underdogs"? Miami, already without Chris Bosh, loses Hassan Whiteside to a knee injury. They remain underdogs to survive Toronto. They would then be monumental underdogs vs. Cleveland. They would then be even greater longshots vs. (presumably) Golden State. The Miami Heat: America's Underdogs! ..... Original post: Canadian fans  are upset that Dwyane Wade kept into his warmup routine before Game 3 and was still taking shots during the start of O Canada. Heat fans are thinking, "If it helps him score 38 again, he can shoot through both national anthems." Of course
Heatrapsg4the fact Miami lost despite his 38 is why the home team is under the pressure it is tonight, trailing 2-1 in the series. Another loss would put Miami in the awful position of needing to win three G4straight games, two of them in Toronto. Even a win to level the series leaves the Heat still needing to figure a way to win one up in We The North territory. Both teams are now scrambling to replace their big men, with Miami's Hassan Whiteside (knee) officially "day to day" but ruled out for tonight and Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) out the rest of the series. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri called the latter a "big, big, big, big, big blow for us." That's five bigs. Heat playing sans Whiteside is comparably big. Which coach and roster adjust best moving forward should be the team that takes the series and advances to meet a very rested LeBron James in the Eastern finals. Said Wade on Sunday: "It isn't always about who's the best team. It's about who's the healthiest team. It'll be a different game for us with Hassan out, but we have to figure out a game that's successful for us." I'd expect veteran Udonis Haslem to get most of Whiteside's minutes, with help from Josh McRoberts and Amar'e Stoudemire. The erasure of the two starting centers could be a bigger blow to the Raptors, as Valanciunas had generally outplayed Whiteside in this series, with a double-double in all three games. Toronto has been plus-41 (in scoring) with Valanciunas on the floor in the series; Miami has been plus-39 when he is on the bench. The Whiteside factor has been closer to negligible in terms of +/-, with Miami minus-7 with him in the game and plus-5 without him.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wade the hero again as Miami wins Game 4, ties series: Dwyane Wade scores 30 points last night one game after scoring 38, and all at once Miami is tied 2-2 as the series heads back to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday night. With Bosh already out, Hassan Whiteside now out, too, and Miami still the underdog againt Toronto, facing longer odds vs. Cleveland, then an impossible longshot vs. (likely) Golden State, the Heat has become America's Underdog. (Click on Be Careful What You Wish For for my column off the Game 4 overtime home win).

2. MARLINS: Hot Fish back on winning track as homestand continues: Marlins have now won 12 of their past 15 games after beating Milwaukee last night behind Jose Fernandez as nine-game homestand continues with two more vs. Brewers. Much more of this winning and contending and Jeffrey Loria may have little choice but to open the wallet and bolster the roster, especially the starting rotation. Two words: Tim Lincecum.

3. DOLPHINS: Fins re-sign Wake, conclude unusual rookie mini-camp on Sunday: Team signed Cam Wake to a two-year, $15 million extension. Meanwhile, Miami wrapped up a three-day rookie mini-camp. It was classroom stuff only, no uniforms or practices. So we’ll have to wait awhile longer to see No. 1 draft pick Laremy Tunsil behind a gas mask. Oops. Sorry! Freudian slip. I meant a facemask.

4. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Kentucky Derby as gates open on Triple Crown season: Nyquist showed why he was the betting favorite in Saturday’s 142nd Kentucky Derby. Still, most thoroughbred experts predict we likely won’t be seeing an end this year to the Triple Crown drought stretching all the way back to 2015.

5. NBA: LeBron's Cavs are first team through to conference finals: Cleveland completed a 4-0 sweep of the Hawks in Atlanta Sunday to become the first team through to the conference finals, with every other series competitive. Doubt him or not, LeBron is still LeBron. And now rested, too.

6. PANTHERS: Cats out of playoffs but still in news with Jagr, coach: As playoffs continued sans Florida -- Tampa Bay on Sunday became first team through to conference finals -- Panthers’ Gerard Gallant was named a coach of year finalist and Cats re-signed Jaromir Jagr for another year. I don’t wanna say Jagr is old, but he skied as an NHL rookie because ice hadn’t been invented yet.

7. DON SHULA: Coaching legend hospitalized but released: When you're 86, any health issue can be worrisome. It is reasonable more than macabre to wonder if Shula will live to see his Dolphins in another Super Bowl. That's reality, the tenuous state of the franchise.

8. SOCCER: Beckham stadium talks with Miami-Dade hit a snag: Took forever to find a site and settle on what was not his preference. Now there are more delays. I am beginning to wonder if David Beckham, 41, will ever live to see his dream of Major League Soccer in Miami come to fruition.

9. HURRICANES: Richt rallies the troops at fan meetings: New Canes football coach Mark Richt has been speaking to Hurricane Club rallies. At one he mentioned he wasn't big on players' demonstrative "swagger," saying, "If you want to dance, go to the club." Cannot confirm he quickly added: "But while you're at the club, don't drink, get in trouble or stay out too late!"

10. DION JORDAN: Dolphins draft bust seeks comeback: You could argue Miami trading up to third overall for Jordan in 2013 was among worst draft decisions in club history. With that in mind, I Googled the phrase "vested interest" and saw that Jordan's agent and trainer were predicting he'd be NFL comeback player of the year this season.

Missing the cut: Leicester City won the first EPL championship in its history against 5,000-to-1 odds. Coincidentally, those were the same odds against the Dolphins' No. 1 selection being pictured draft-night wearing a bong gas mask ..... Marlins' May 30-31 games vs. Pirates will not be played Puerto Rico as scheduled because of threat of Zika virus there. Instead the games will be played at Marlins Park, because of course we have no mosquitos in South Florida (!) ..... Phoenix Coyotes made John Chayka, 26, the youngest GM in NHL history. Chayka immediately traded a future first-round draft pick for four killer tickets to Pearl Jam ..... Canelo Alvarez beat Amir Khan in Vegas and I can't even fake interest ..... Yes, Pablo Sandoval played only three games for the Red Sox and was 0-for-6 before season-ending surgery. However, in that short time he did lead all AL batters in second helpings ..... Joe Paterno reportedly knew as early as the 1970s of Jerry Sandusky's pedophilia. R.I.P., Joe Pa. (Rest In Pieces).

Poll result: Wade dethrones Marino: It had to happen eventually. We asked who had the greater career for Miami, and it was the Heat's Dwyane Wade soundly defeating the Dolphin's Dan Marino by 49.8 percent to 37.6%. Another 10.6% voted "can't decide or too close to call," while 2.0% voted "someone else."

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

May 06, 2016

G2: Toronto 96, Heat 92 (OT): At 1-1, still liking Miami in 6; plus no-Bosh decision smart beyond health, good/bad news for Miami in '17 NFL Draft, Jose & Giancarlo (Part IX), appreciating Shula, disrespecting Richt, urgent Fins cheerleader news & more

 GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Cincodemayo1) It is FRIDAY, MAY 6. Hope y'all had a happy Cinco de Mayo! As you know this date marked the Mexican Army's upset victory over French forces at the Battle of Pubela in 1862, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. That's in Mexico. In the U.S. this date marked the latest excuse to get drunk. Like we need one! 2) Thanks to Tony Kornheiser for having us on his national radio show. And thank you, Mavis Staples, for a wonderful show on Wednesday! 3) Welcome back, Jaromir Jagr. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat beat Raptors in Game 1, LeBron wants Heat next, an appreciation of Mavis Staples, Fins/Marlins updated betting odds, ex-Heat/Dolphin on wasted-talent list, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Shula: A Renewed Appreciation, the new one, on his health scare at 86 inviting us to take stock of the coaching legend. Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, previewing Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory.

U.S. presidential odds: Today, six months before the election, via Bovada: Next president--Hillary Clinton 1-3, Donald Trump 2-1, Bernie Sanders 20-1. Republican VP--Chris Christie and John Kasich both 4-1. Democratic VP--Julian Castro 2-1, Elizabeth Warren 4-1.

G2: TORONTO 96, HEAT 92 (OT): TURNOVERS, COLD-SHOOTING LATE HAS SERIES TIED 1-1 HEADING BACK TO MIAMI: Miami outshot the Raptors 49-42% and led in rebounds but is hard to claim the Heat deserved to win last night on the road. Miami led 77-70 in the fourth quarter but soon after went on a field goal drought of 4:37 as Toronto forced a second straight overtime game. Then Miami started 0-for-5 in OT. Heat also self-destructed with 21 turnovers to offset the gift of 12 missed free throws by the Raptors. This Heat team had a chance to be the first in franchise history to lead a playoff series 2-0 with consecutive road wins. Instead it's 0-for-15 in such opportunities. The good news? A split in Toronto and heading home at 1-1 probably would have been OK with most Heat fans coming in. See you Saturday at 5 p.m. by the bay. Still like Heat in six. ..... Original post: All eyes will be on Heat-Raptors tonight -- the only game on the NBA  playoff schedule -- and it finds Miami with a chance to make some history. This is the 41st playoff series in Heat franchise annals. Fourteen of the previous 40 have begun with two games on the road, but none of those 14 -- G2
Heatatraptorszero
-- have ever resulted in a 2-0 Miami series lead. That can happen tonight for the first time if the Heat can manage to pile another win in Toronto onto that overtime survival in Game 1. (The Eastern semifinal series swings to Miami with Game 3 on Saturday). As a starting point Miami will win again if guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic continue to be clearly better than Toronto's tandem of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Lowry has been especially awful. "I know we won't advance if I don't play better," he admitted on Wednesday. Look for Toronto to try to get Lowry going tonight with early shots and foul-seeking drives into the paint. Miami can't count on being as good from 3-point range as it was (8-for-11) in Game 1, but Hassan Whiteside (17 rebounds) should continue to be a force om the boards. Miami needs more offense from Whiteside, though, which may come tonight. Toronto is a 4.5-point favorite tonight. Then again, the Raps were a 6.5-point fave in the series opener.

THE REASONS FOR SITTING BOSH REST OF PLAYOFFS GO BEYOND HEALTH: It was smart of the Heat and Chris Bosh to jointly announce yesterday (at the team's strong urging) that he would not return the rest of the playoffs. Not a surprise, but it needed to be said to defuse the growing distraction caused by his wife's #BringBoshBack social media flurry and also by the unecessary,
Chrisboshbutting-in involvement of the NBA Players Association. The group issued a pointless statement saying Bosh's health if the utmost concern. What, like it isn't for the Heat, too? Abundant caution on the part of the team is why Bosh is still sitting in the first place. But it may not be the only reason. This doesn't get talked about, but Bosh rejoining the active roster right now might not be best for the team from purely a basketball standpoint. Miami will be better with him back starting next season. But right now? Here's why not, beyond the blood clot-related health concerns: 1) He would not be in basketball condition, let alone playoff-intensity condition, after not playing since February. 2) His return in the midst of a playoff run would be a circus-y distraction. 3) The team is performing well without him, with most metrics indicating Miami has been better post-Bosh, especially offensively, with Luol Deng's increased role and the addition of Joe Johnson. The Heat eventually will be a better team with Bosh when Erik Spoelstra figures out how to reintegrate him to the team's advantage next season. But that's not an experimenting that should be starting now.

LeBron, Wade on looming faceoff: LeBron on whether he has thought of facing Miami in Eastern finals: "Of course. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series." Wade on same question: "That's something we always talked about. Obviously, you want to play against the best and we respect each other as being two of the best competitors. But right now, that's not something I'm focusing on." Funny. Despite that disclaimer at the end, Wade obviously is looking forward to facing LeBron as much as vice versa. Make it happen, fate! Even fans in Toronto and Atlanta would probably rather watch Heat-Cavs.

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS FOR MIAMI IN FIRST '17 MOCK DRAFT: The outrageously early guesswork is out today via ESPN's Todd McShay. The good news for Miami is for The U. McShay has QB BradkaayaBrad Kaaya (pictured) as the No. 2 overall pick, after only Clemson QB DeShaun Watson. The bad for Miami is for the Dolphins. He has the Fins selecting fourth overall, which would indicate a really bad season. His choice for Miami isn't so bad, though: LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Others of Todd's first-round picks include Gators Jalen Rabor (CB) and Jarrad Davis (OLB) and Seminoles Roderick Johnson (OT) and Dalvin Cook (RB). Find McShay's full mock here. A Sports Illustrated '17 mock has Kaaya going first overall and the Dolphins selecting 10th and taking Alabama DE Jonathan Allen.

MARLINS: THE JOSE & GIANCARLO SHOW, PART IX: Jose Fernandez was the winning pitcher yesterday in the Marlins' ninth win in past 10 games, and Giancarlo Stanton homered. I wondered how often that has happened -- a Stanton HR the same game as a Fernandez W in the ultimate nexus of the team's two biggest stars. Answer: Nine times. But the pattern is interesting. It happened a lot in Jose's rookie season of 2013 (5 times, July 23-28, August 19, September 6-11). It happened only once in 2014 (April 29). It did not happen at all in 2015 largely because of staggered injuries to both. But it has already has happened three times in 2016, in all three of Jose's wins (April 18-28, May 4).

ShulaA RE-APPRECIATION OF SHULA: Whether it is a parent or grandparent or an iconic football coach who meant so much to your city, when an 86-year-old man is hospitalized, it is a good time to pray or give thanks or simply to appreciate that person. That is the spirit of today's latest column by me, an unabashed paean to Don Shula. We celebrate, again, all he meant and accomplished, and also marvel at yet another reminder of how distant the Dolphins' best days have grown from the present. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read the column in full.

MarkrichtDISRESPECTING MARK RICHT: A panel of CBS Sports college football experts ranks all 65 Power 5 conference head coaches entering the 2016 season (click here) and the Hrricanes' Mark Richt (pictured) is ranked only 18th -- a tumble down from last year's 7th. Explains the synopsis: "Richt takes a big step back in the rankings, falling 11 spots. This is no doubt a result of a third straight season of failing to live up to high expectations at Georgia, especially in a season in which the SEC East was so very winnable. Now Richt has moved on to Miami where we'll see if a fresh start is enough to get him back into the top 10." The usual suspects -- Alabama's Nick Saban and Ohio State's Urban Mayer -- are 1-2 atop the list. Florida State's Jimbo Fisher is 6th. Florida's Jim McElwain is 27th.

FinscheerURGENT DOLPHINS CHEERLEADERS NEWS!: The Dolphins are giving fans a chance to attend this year's Dolphins Cheerleaders calendar shoot. Click here for details including how to enter. The club has chosen 40 young women for a seven-week boot camp from which the final 2016 squad will be selected. The camp will consist of workouts, etiquette training, team building, uniform fittings, look development and performance training. (Yes, I said "look development!") The 40 finalists were selected from among more than 800 hopefuls who auditioned at tryouts in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil in addition to South Florida. I really don't care about any of this. I just needed a vessel in order to gratuitously float the photo at right.

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April 30, 2016

Wild Ride: Dwyane Wade's season-saving heroics, Laremy Tunsil's selection, Dee Gordon suspension equal wildest 24 hours in Miami sports history; plus Dolphins' Day 2-3 draft, history of Fins OLs and UM DBs in 1st round & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 30. Fare thee well, April! 2) Ray Lewis' son, Ray Anthony Lewis III, briefly a Miami Hurricane, has been charged with criminal sexual misconduct in South Carolina. Story here. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins draft Laremy Tunsil No. 1 with poll, live-mocking my Mock Draft with results, Fins' sad track record in first round, Marlins best team in town, your Bosh vs. Heat verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Curious Pick, Major Gamble, the latest, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick last night. Heat Has Bigger Concerns Than #BringBoshBack, off Miami's damaging Game 5 home playoff loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on what Fins should be thinking for their top draft pick.

SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS' WILDEST 24 HOURS EVER?: I think we've just experienced Miami sports' most dramatic 24 hours ever in the stuff I hit on in this blogpost. I think I'd nominate the 24 hours from late Thursday night through late last night. We had the Marlins finish a road sweep of the Dodgers on a Giancarlo Stanton homer followed immediately by the 80-suspension of Dee Gordon. We had the Dolphins creating the most buzz in the entire NFL Draft first round in selecting tackle Laremy Tunsil despite that infamous gas-mask-bong video. And we had Dwyane Wade sinking two late 3's (a shot he'd last made in December) in a must-win that kept the Heat season alive. Wild ride. Thank you, again, sports.

G6: HEAT 97, CHARLOTTE 90: WADE'S LATE HEROICS LIFT MIAMI, FORCE GAME 7: Not yet. The Heat aren't done yet. There will be a Game 7 Sunday at 1 p.m. back in Miami after last night's 97-90 Miami win in Charlotte evened this first-round playoff series 3-3. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 23 points with 10 in the telling fourth quarter -- including two 3-point baskets. Wade had last hit a 3 in December. What wonderful late heroics by the Heat's all-time great. D-Wade took it upon himself to save this game, and series, and keep the season alive. ..... Original post: The Heat never have blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and lost. Thirteen times they have led 2-0 and 13 times Heathornetsthey have advanced. That historic franchise streak is at risk tonight in Charlotte with Miami trailing 3-2 and the Hornets a 2-point favorite. A Charlotte streak could end, too. The franchise last won a playoff series 14 years ago. That and the underdog role in this series has the Hornets playing with a "a huge chip on our shoulder," as G6Kemba Walker put it. Miami is stunned to find itself in this predicament after winning the first two games at home by a combined 44 points, seemingly in control. Charlotte's defense has limited Miami to 38.6 percent shooting in the three games since. And the Heat's own defense has struggled stopping Hornets guards Walker and Jeremy Lin. Charlotte's 3-point shooting also came alive in the last game. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra: "Nobody said this was going to be easy. Nobody's giving out free tickets to the second round. You do have to earn it. It's our first real test when our backs are against the wall. These are the games you remember." Miami tonight will need more of the vintage Wade who scored 25 in Game 5, but Wade needs more help. Calling Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, especially. Because only the season depends on it. It will end tonight for the Heat, or survive for a Game 7 on Sunday back in Miami.

AFTERSHOCK: LAREMY TUNSIL HAS DOLPHINS IN SPOTLIGHT: I don't step back from my column; click on Curious Pick, Major Gamble to read in full. Many in the national media are swooning over Miami's unexpected windfall. So are many Dolfans (see poll below). I'm more skeptical, acknowledging Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil is a great talent but also admitting his off- Tunsil
Gasmaskfield issues and injury history make his Bust Potential bigger than most. Also, Miami has just spent its top pick on a tackle (not a position of urgent need) with plans to try to make him a guard. Hmm. He'll be the world's biggest, least-experienced guard. Weird. I haven't even gotten to the gas mask yet. Let's talk about the off-field baggage. The domestic assault charge (later dropped) against his stepfather, who is suing him. The seven-game NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. The admission he took cash from an Ole Miss coach. And of course the hacked Twitter account that last night exposed the image shown of Tunsil smoking pot through a gas-mask bong. A bleepin' GAS-MASK BONG! "Years ago," Tunsil said of the photo. Well, two years ago, it turns out. Somebody did Tunsil dirty with that hack job. I feel bad his big draft night was enveloped in controversy. But it is him in the photo. So, who is Miami getting here? The great talent who will eventually be Ryan Tannehill's blindside protector for many years? Or a guy who needs a gas-mask because he can't get enough smoke -- a guy whose risk may outweigh his potential? Even with those doubts I would give Miami high marks for the totality of their first round, because it must include cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso, who arrived from Philly when Miami first traded down from 8th to 13th. In effect, the Dolphins just got three starters in the first round. But! It also is fair to note Maxwell is coming off a terrible season, Alonso must reverse his decline since his excellent rookie season, and Tunsil arrives with character questions. So: If, if, if. If Maxwell bounces back and is starter-caliber. If Alonso shows the rookie we saw was no fluke. If Tunsil proves everybody wrong and is the steal of the draft. If all three happen Miami just had an A-plus first round. If.

And ... weird got weirder: Top Dolphins draft pick Laremy Tunsil could not attend his 3:30 introductory press conference yesterday because (it was said) he suffered an "allergic reaction" of undetermined origin at the team's Davie facility. Allergic to questions about gas masks, maybe, because he did speak about 70 minutes later, seemed fine, but would not address any controversies, saying he was there only "to talk about the Miami Dolphins."

And there's this...: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Ravens, picking 6th, passed on Tunsil because of that gas-mask-bong video. That's Baltimore, a smarter, better-drafting, more successful team than Miami in the past 15 years. I'm just sayin'. Something to mull over for you folks so critical of me for being too critical of Miami's 1R choice.

Dolphins' Day 2 draft:

2nd round (38th overall) -- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor: Smart position-need pick, 6-foot, 200 pounds, big, physical corner, good against the run, 9 interceptions past two seasons. Miami traded up 4 spots (giving up a 4th round pick) to select Howard, suggesting a lot of love and the hope he'll start as a rookie opposite Byron Maxwell. 

3rd round (73rd overall) -- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama: Needed a running back. Got one. Would have preferred fellow 'Bama RB Derrick Henry, but he went 45th overall. Like that Miami targeted and hit on its two main position needs on Day 2.

3rd round (86th overall) -- Leonte Caroo, WR, Rutgers: Miami traded up into round for this added third rounder at large cost, giving up two Day 3 picks. Dolphins tried to trade up to select LB Myles Jack. I'm more interested in what they did do on Day 2. Trading up twice comes with a cost in lost Day 3 picks and reduced depth via rounds 3 through 7 today.

Dolphins' Day 3 draft:

4th round -- No pick.

5th round -- No pick.

6th round (186th overall) -- Jakeem Grant, WR, Texas Tech. Traded up 10 spots to get him, givgin up one of three 7th-round picks to do so. That's four out of five picks so far designed to make Ryan Tannehill's life easier.

6th round (204th overall) -Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State.

7th round (223rd overall) -- Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky. Local kid, born and raised in Davie.

7th round (231st overall) -- Thomas Duarte. WR, UCLA. Finis!

SAY IT AIN'T SO, DEE: BOMBSHELL ROCKS MARLINS: It was 1:17 a.m. in the East on Friday morning. The Marlins had just wo a fifth straight game by completing a four-game road sweep of the DeegordonL.A. Dodgers on a win by Jose Fernandez fueled by Giancarlo Stanton's seventh home run. The Fish were riding a season high. That's when the news broke that star second baseman Dee Gordon (pictured) had tested positive for testosterone and another PED and was suspended immediately for 80 games without pay by MLB. (Full story here). The gut reaction? "Him, of all people?" Second reaction: "If he's dirty, is anybody clean!?" This rocks the stereotype of PED use; this rocks the faith. Gordon is a waif of a man, the opposite of the power hitter looking for artificial muscles through illegal juice. Gordon also is the Good Guy personified, of the (formerly) perfect image, a great, smiling face of the franchise and of the too-few African Americans in baseball. A role model. All that. And all that takes a hit now as Gordon sits humiliated until after the all-star break, his earliest return set at July 29. Gordon called it an innocent mistake in a statement Friday, saying, in part: "Though I did not do so knowingly, I have been informed that test results showed I ingested something that contained prohibited substances. I made a mistake and I accept the consequences." Of course the shocker of a suspension has a pragmatic effect, too. Gordon is the reigning NL batting champion and stolen base leader. Though he was hitting only .266 so far this year, he's tough to replace. Derek Dietrich will be the likely new regular at second base. Who'll replace Gordon as leadoff hitter is dicier. With no great candidate it could be Martin Prado, who does not have classic leadoff speed but gets on base, a plus for that role. Meanwhile, what a bone-rattling disappointment! Say it ain't so, Dee. [Update: Dietrich at second, Ichiro leading off tonight at Milwaukee].

THE LIST: HURRICANES FIRST-ROUND DEFENSIVE BACKS: Of 61 Miami Hurricanes selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since the first in 1956, 13 have been defensive backs. The 13th happened last night with Artie Burns, who is pictured on the phone with the Steelers at his draft party held at The Betsy hotel on South Beach. UM's 13 1R DBs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating players still active, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                            Year (No.) / Team                NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

ArtieburnsArtie Burns-*                   2016 (25th) / Steelers          TBD

Kenny Phillips-*               2008 (31st) / Giants             59/0/C

Brandon Meriweather-*    2007 (24th) / Patriots          112/2/B

Kelly Jennings                 2006 (31st) / Seahawks        91/0/C-

Antrel Rolle-*                  2005 (8th) / Cardinals         155/3/B+

Sean Taylor                     2004 (5th) / Redskins           55/2/A

Philip Buchanon               2002 (17th) / Raiders          122/0/B-

Ed Reed                          2002 (24th) / Ravens           174/9/A+

Mike Rumph                    2002 (27th) / 49ers              43/0/D

Duane Starks                   1998 (10th) / Ravens           97/0/C

Darryl Williams                1992 (28th) / Bengals          156/1/B

Bennie Blades                  1988 (3rd) / Lions               136/1/B-

Burgess Owens                 1973 (13th) / Jets               137/0/C+

THE LIST: DOLPHINS FIRST-ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: The Dolphins have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round 11 times, the 11th last night. Miami's 11 1R OLs, in reverse chronology, with asterisks indicating active players, and with NFL career grades at right my own relative to draft slot:

Player                             Year (No.) / College            NFL Starts/Pro Bowls/Grade

Laremy Tunsil-*                2016 (13th) / Ole Miss         TBD

Ja'Wuan James-*              2014 (19th) / Tennessee       23/0/Inc.

Mike Pouncey-*                 2011 (15th) / Florida           72/3/B

Jake Long-*                     2008 (1st) / Michigan           100/4/B-

Vernon Carey                   2004 (19th) / Miami             121/0/C+

Billy Milner                      1995 (25th) / Houston          30/0/F

Richmond Webb               1990 (9th) / Texas A&M        184/7/A

Roy Foster                       1982 (24th) / USC                 127/2/B

Jon Giesler                      1979 (24th) / Michigan         105/0/B-

Darryl Carlton                  1975 (23rd) / Tampa            36/0/F

Doug Crusan                     1968 (27th) / Indiana          82/0/C

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April 18, 2016

This is the Heat team that can beat LeBron and Cavs. Miami 'perfect' in 123-91 Game 1 rout of Charlotte; plus Panthers fall in OT, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Hassan Whiteside and Jaromir Jagr named Heat/Panthers season MVPs & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 18. Heat's Hassan Whiteside finishes third in NBA Defensive Plahyer of Year vote; Spurs' Kawhi Leonard wins again. 2) ESPN's mock-draft picks for Dolphins selecting 13th are two Ohio State Buckeyes -- OLB Darron Lee (says Mel Kiper) and RB Ezekiel Elliott (via Todd McShay). So it won't be either, then. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Panthers tie Islanders series, Dolphins schedule, Heat-Hornets, Heat/Panthers MVP polls, history of Miami playoff games, your Warriors vs. Kobe verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

NEW COLUMN: On Heat's refreshing reliance on rookies Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson: Shipping to Tuesday's inky pulp editions but available to you now. Click on Rook 1, Rook 2 to read. 

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: This Is the Upside, off last night's hugely impressive Heat Game 1 win. Luongo Saves Day, And Maybe Season, off Friday night's necessary Panthers Game 2 win. Now We See About the Panthers, off the series-opening loss.

Cats give one away: The Florida Panthers aren't making it easy on themselves. They lose Game 1 at home. Then, last night, they lost Game 3 in Brooklyn, 4-3 in overtime, after leading 3-1. Florida nows trails their NHL first-round series to the Islanders 2-1, with Game 4 Wednesday night back up there.

G1: HEAT 123, CHARLOTTE 91: DENG, WHITESIDE LEAD 'PERFECT' GAME: As bad as the Heat were in that late collapse in Boston four nights earlier, the Heat were that good Sunday night in starting the playoffs with an impressive home bang. Miami set club playoff records for most points in a game (123) and quarter (41) and most field goals made (49). Goran Dragic called it "a perfect game on both ends." It was almost literally so for Luol Deng (31 points) and Hassan Whiteside (21), who combined for 20-of-24 shooting. Miami wasn't as bad it it looked in Boston last week and can't be as great as it looked Sunday, but we saw how good this team can be. And the team we saw Sunday night can beat anybody in the East, LeBron James and Cleveland included. Game 2 is back here Wednesday night. Click on This Is the Upside for my game column off last night's gem. ..... Original post: When last we saw the Heat on the court, they were Heathornetssundaysuffering a regular season-ending meltdown in Boston akin to Jordan Spieth's in The Masters. No time for a hangover effect now, with the first-round playoffs set to begin as No. 3 seed Miami hosts No. 6 Charlotte this evening in Game 1. Despite the seed disparity both teams were 48-34 in the season and split their series 2-2, so it's understandable that Charlotte is a trendy upset pick with some in the national media. Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson will be a challenge, and it's a series where Chris Bosh's absence could be conspicuous after so many weeks of Miami seemingly not missing him. Charlotte has had the third-best record in the league since the all-star break and is 26-9 since Jan. 31. That's impressive. Miami is a narrow betting favorite in this series at 5-8 odds to Charlotte's 8-5, but must prove here that it is capable of playing all the way into the Eastern finals. Miami is one of only five of 122 franchises in the Big Four sports to make the playoffs at least 17 times and win at least three championships in the past 21 seasons, along with Lakers, Spurs, Red Wings and Yankees. The Heat have more playoff seasons than the Dolphins, Marlins and Panthers combined since Miami became a four-sport city in 1993. But I see a serious early challenge here for the Heat. So does ESPN, which ranks this series No. 1 of the eight for upset potential, which it estimates at 46 percent. My pick: Heat in 6 games.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Wow! Miami saves its best game of season for playoff opener:  Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets were a trendy pick to upset the No. 3 Heat in this best-of-seven, but the Heat last night said, "I don't think so." And emphatically, in a 123-91 rout in the downtown bayside arena led by Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside's combined 52 points on combined 20-for-24 shooting. If last night was the real Heat, then this team is capable of beating anybody in the East ... including that guy from Cleveland, whatshisname.

2. PANTHERS: Cats give one away in crucial Game 3 loss to Islanders: One game after Roberto Luongo saved the day for Florida, the Panthers last night blew 2-0 and 3-1 leads in a 4-3 overtime Game 3 loss in Brooklyn. Islanders now are up 2-1, with Game 4 back up in New York Wednesday night. Must win? Well, don't they all sort of feel like that in a best-of-seven playoffs?

3. DOLPHINS: Season schedule is out (uh oh) as Fins prepare for draft: Does new Dolphins coach Adam Gase have enemies? Apparently one — the guy who scheduled Miami to open the season at Seattle and at New England. Fins hope they fare better in the April 28-30 NFL Draft than they did with the schedule. I can't wait for the draft ..mainly because it puts a merciful end to the endless speculation of national mocks drafts and local flat-out guessing on what Miami might do.

4. MARLINS: Shh. Don’t tell anybody, but Fish in midst of homestand: Miami is in the midst of seven games in a row at Marlins Park. The question is, with the Heat and Panthers both in the playoffs and Dolphins’ draft soon, will South Florida even notice? The homestand may not be a good thing, considering it has opened with three straight losses to previously winless Braves, making Miami now 0-5 at home this year. Fish's early-season problem is clear. If your arm is loose, report immediately to the bullpen, please.

5. HURRICANES: UM’s spring game ends offseason football practice: Hurricanes’ annual Spring Game, the first under new coach Mark Richt, was Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Green beating Orange 24-7 behind Brad Kaaya's 345 yards passing before some 14,000 fans at Lockhart Stadium. Want a sad fact? Canes baseball is ranked No. 1 in the nation, but more UM fans care about a glorified football practice taking place five months before season starts.

6. NBA: Big end to regular season segues to playoffs: Basketball's regular season ended with Golden State’s record-setting 73rd win and retiring Kobe Bryant’s 60 points in his final game. Top that, first round!

7. NHL: It's No, Canada! as Stanley Cup playoffs begin: Canada invented hockey. You wouldn't know it. A Canadian team hasn't lifted Lord Stanley's Cup since 1993, and now, for the first time since 1970, no Canadian team even made the playoffs.

8. NFL: Rams trade up for No. 1 pick in draft: Good offseason for Los Angeles. First the city gets the Rams back from St. Louis. Now, in first trade involving a top pick since 2004, the team gets the No. 1 draft pick from Tennessee. 

9. GOLF: Fans still abuzz over Spieth's Masters meltdown: It's been a week and golf fans still can't get over Jordan Spieth blowing The Masters and literally handing over the green jacket to Danny Willett. Then again, at least Jordan, who tied for second, had $880,000 to help dry his tears.

10. SAILING: Miamian wins Star-class world title: Miami and Coral Reef Yacht Club hosted the Star-class world sailing championships, which is of apparent tremendous interest to Star-class sailors. No, seriously, it's a big event, and Miamian Augie Diaz parlayed home-wind advantage to victory.

Missing the cut: Sidelined Chris Bosh addressed his Heat teammates and advised them to "savor the playoffs." Had he told them to take the playoffs for granted, now that woulda been newsworthy! ... Tyler Summitt (Pat's son) resigns in disgrace after impregnating one of his basketball players. Um, what were you thinking, Louisiana Tech, hiring a then 22-year-old as a head coach? ... Dolphins are conducting voluntary offseason workouts, meaning all players are expected to "volunteer" ... FIU's spring football game was canceled by bad weather. No, seriously ... A company called U-Glove makes protective disposable gloves to wear when pumping gas. Shouldn't The U demand a cut of the action? ... MLB going high-tech with iPads in dugouts for analytic research during games. Can an iPad pick up a bat or throw a slider? Then I'm not impressed ... Kyle Busch became first NASCAR driver in 25 years to win multiple races on consecutive weekends. America still doesn't like you, Kyle! ... It has come to our attention badminton is a high-school sport, begging the question, Why?

Jagr WhitesidePOLL RESULTS: HASSAN WHITESIDE, JAROMIR JAGR NAMED HEAT AND PANTHERS' REGULAR-SEASON MVPS: It was a fairly close two-man race on the basketball side, but you had Hassan Whiteside (left) as the Heat's 2015-16 season MVP over Dwyane Wade by 51.8 percent to 41.4%, with the other 6.8% voting for "someone else." Mild upset, or no? It was a landslide on the hockey end. Jaromir Jagr (right) at age 44 won with 62.9 percent of the vote, followed by Roberto Luongo (13.8%), Aleksander Barkov (11.1%) and Aaron Ekblad (also 11.1%), with "someone else" at only 1.1%.

THE LIST: HEAT'S MIAMI REIGN: How often the Miami Heat have made the playoffs relative to SoFla's other other big teams:

Team                Seasons    PO years    Pct.

Miami Heat            28        19           .679

Miami Dolphins     50        16           .320

Florida Panthers     22         5            .227

Miami Marlins       23         2            .087

Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

Twitter @gregcote

April 11, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10, starring Heat, Cats, Fish, Masters, Warriors, Kobe, Miami FC, Fins, Pacquiao and Nyquist; plus Dolphins woes quantified, your verdicts on LeBron/Kobe & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, APRIL 11. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Should Heat retire LeBron James' number poll, Kiper's latest Dolphins mock draft, Heat and Panthers playoff outlooks, does golf miss Tiger Woods poll, Dolphins preseason schedule, your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle Haggard & more. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My three most recent general columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Now the Proving Begins, as Panthers end regular season and face playoffs. Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature (updated Mondays) is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HEAT: Miami wins home finale, zeroes in on home court for playoffs: Heat whipped Orlando 118-96 in its home final Sunday but enters last three days of the regular season still unsure where it will finish or who its first-round opponent will be. Simplest scenario: Miami will have home-court advantaged if it finishes 2-0 by winning at Detroit Tuesday and at Boston Wednesday. That Boston game could be winner-take for the home court. Finish delicioso! Meantime Hassan Whiteside says he won’t campaign for the NBA defensive player of year award while casually mentioning he has more blocks than a Toys ‘R Us.

2. PANTHERS: Cats await Islanders in playoff Game 1 Thursday: Cats won their home finale Saturday (my column here) and now face the New York Islanders in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series here Thursday night, with Game 2 here Friday night -- an odd postseason back-to-back. Cats dodged a bullet by not getting the tougher first-round draw vs. the Rangers. Either way, this was known: Florida -– unlike the entire country of Canada -– is competing for the Stanley Cup.

3. MARLINS: Fish trying to bounce back from rough early start: Has Jeffrey Loria fired Don Mattingly yet? Kidding, sort of, but an 0-2 start at home including the end of Jose Fernandez’ record 17-game Marlins Park winning streak wasn’t the season launch Miami hoped for, and now Miami is 1-3 in the midst of six straight road games vs. the division-power Nationals and Mets. One (very) early-season certainty: How much Marlins' TV broadcasts are missing Tommy Hutton.

4. GOLF: Spieth's collapse snatches green jacket from his hands: World’s No. 2 golfer and top American Jordan Spieth carried a 5-shot lead into the back nine of The Masters at Augusta on Sunday, then collapsed with a quadruple-boey 7 on the par 3 12th hole, and Danny Willett waltzed past him for the green jacket. Poor Danny. The 2016 Masters will be remembered not as the one he won, but as the one Spieth gave away.

5. NBA: Golden State's pursuit, Kobe's final game hog stage: Simple now for Golden State (72-9). Warriors must win at home vs. Memphis Wednesday night to break the Chicago Bulls' 1996 NBA record of 72 wins. On the Kobe Watch, Lakers are on road tonight, then Kobe Bryant plays his final NBA game at home on Wednesday -- same night Warriors go for the record. Has an NBA regular season ever finished bigger?

6. SOCCER: Miami FC makes inaugural home debut: Expansion team Miami FC tied Tampa Bay 1-1 in its home debut in the NASL Saturday night. More important, the new team drew more than 10,000 fans to FIU Stadium, decidedly more than most FIU football games draw. 

7. DOLPHINS: Ross names successor as draft nears: With the April 28 NFL Draft bearing in, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross named New York real estate mogul and longtime business partner Bruce Beal as the potential successor who'll have first rights to buy franchise when Ross, 75, sells or dies. Super Bowl or bust, Steve. Tick tock.

8. BOXING: Manny Pacquiao wins his (supposed) final fight: He beat Timothy Bradley in a unanimous decision last night in Las Vegas. Pacquiao therafter immediately announced he was retiring, which is boxspeak for, "Anticipation of my eventual comeback will hopefully stoke interest in the PPV bonanza of a Mayweather rematch."

9. HORSE RACING: Nyquist wins Florida Derby as Triple Crown season looms: Nyquist's impressive triumph in the Florida Derby positions the horse as an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Surprising bloodline. Nyquist's sire, Nyquil, was best known for falling asleep in the starting gate.

10. HURRICANES: UM spring football wraps up in five days: Miami's annual intrasquad offense vs. defense Spring Game is this coming Saturday afternoon, April 16, at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale. I'm betting big on the Hurricanes to win. And lose.

Missing the cut: Thousands will swarm Miami’s ocean sands Sunday for the finish of the Global Champions Tour of Olympic-style equestrian show jumping. I’m betting on Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, a Qatar royal, because I hear his family just bought Miami Beach, the ocean and the event to assure he’ll win ... R.I.P., former New Orleans Saint Will Smith, shot dead in a road-rage incident ... U.S. women's soccer has filed a lawsuit demanding equal pay to the men. That is so ridiculous. Based on performance, the women should make at least three times more ... Entering Sunday's MLB games only the Baltimore Orioles remain unbeaten. "Good luck with that," sneered the '72 Dolphins ... First time since 1970 no Canadian teams in Stanley Cup playoffs. New national anthem: No Canada! ... This just in. UConn women's basketball has been awarded the next six national championships in a time-saving measure ... Recently (I'm serious) the No. 75-ranked Hurricanes men's tennis team hosted No. 41 North Carolina State. Um, is it possible college tennis might wanna tap the brakes on how many teams it ranks? ... An unnamed MLB scout told us that an anonymously quoted rival scout is full of s--- ... Novak Djokovic won the Miami Open but Serena Williams did not. For once, women's tennis is less predictable ... The 24th-ranked men's tennis player is an American named Jack Sock. He's a shoe-in ... The Lakers' D'Angelo Russell was wired for sound the other game. Not for TV. To secretly record his teammates ... No. 2-ranked UM baseball was snowed out of its series at Notre Dame. Duh. Games shoulda been here like Jim Morris said ... Finally, Ernie Els 7-putted the first green at The Masters. There's a phrase for that in golf: "Greg Cote."

THE LIST: THE DOLPHINS: THE (SAD) COMPANY THEY KEEP: The Dolphins' last winning season (no, .500 doesn't count) was 2008. I wondered how many of the 122 franchises in the Big Four sports have a longer drought, including the current NBA and NHL seasons. Answer: Seven. Longest droughts since last winning season (LWS):

Team                                League    LWS

Oakland Raiders                NFL        2002

St. Louis (now L.A.) Rams  NFL        2003

Edmonton Oilers                NHL       2004

Minnesota Timberwolves    NBA        2005

Sacramento Kings              NBA        2006 

Cleveland Browns              NFL        2007

Jacksonville Jaguars          NFL        2007

Miami Dolphins                 NFL         2008

Note: Marlins' LWS was 2009, longest drought in MLB. Panthers' LWS had been 2000, worst in NHL, but that drought ended this season. 

Poll result: No! Most don't favor Heat retiring LeBron's jersey: We asked, and 58.0 percent of you said no. Much disagreement, though, with 34.6% saying yes and 7.4% undecided.

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