August 12, 2016

Ricky Williams stir-frying cannabis in butter and John Oliver's delicious take on American newspapers; plus complete 2016-17 Heat schedule with highlights, NFL/Dolphins betting odds, your verdict on the Summer Olympics & more

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

Meltdown1) It is THURSDAY, AUGUST 11. Pictured is Time magazine's latest cover, about the Donald Trump campaign, entitled 'Meltdown.' This is the most volatile, fascinating presidential election season of my lifetime, and I'm not sure there is a close second. 2) Single-game tickets to the Oct. 10 FSU at Hurricanes game have sold out. To go, you now must buy a UM season-ticket package. 3) R.I.P., ESPN broadcaster John Saunders, 61. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Favorite Summer Olympics sport poll, Tinder's favorite jobs, college football/Canes/Kaaya betting odds, your Marlins/A-Rod verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Emboldened Tannehill, new offense on stage as Dolphins open preseason: Click on Result Won't Matter, But How Tannehill Looks In New Offense Will for my new column in advance of Miami's Friday night exhibition opener at the Giants. 

Column six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI: The Weight Has Just Begun, the latest, inside the office and expectations of new Hurricanes coach Mark Richt. A Chance for Football to Retake Miami, on Wade's departure from Heat creating opening for Dolphins and Canes. Ichiro!, on wonder of ageless Marlin as he chased 3,000 hits. Dolphins On Own to Escape Rut, Reshape Image, state of team as camp neared. Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, farewell-Wade column. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that says it all.

Thank you, HBO: I am blatantly double-dipping into your product to float this latest blogpost. First comes my take on John Oliver's recent rant on journalism and newspapers, followed by Bill Simmons' interview last night with actor Seth Rogen and former Dolphin Ricky Williams discussing weed:

BULL'S-EYE: THANK YOU, JOHN OLIVER, FOR YOUR SPOTLIGHT ON THE VALUE OF, AND SAD STATE OF, THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER: A bit belatedly (this first aired Sunday on HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver), I wanted to thank Oliver for his typically astute take, in this case on journalism in general and finacially struggling American newspapers in general. As Donald Trump wars with the media, calls reporters the most dishonest people in the world and creates a climate in which his supporters chant "lock them up!" at journalists, Oliver properly places in context the continuing value of local newspapers while also skedwering the direction in which they are headed in the digital age. Most fellow journalists like myself -- infantry at the ground level who haven't been laid off, yet -- found the piece brilliant. Most management-level newspaper bosses likely did not. The Newspaper Association of America did, not, either. Click here for the story why. I thought it was spot on in every, on both its overarching points: 1) Why local newspapers continue to be indispensable even as they struggle economically. And 2) how newspapers have been forced to make unfortunate decisions and go in dubious directions in an attempt to survive in the digital age. A thoughtful and thought-provoking piece here. [Note to self: You should have led this blogpost with something about the Dolphins or Canes. Would have gotten a lot more online clicks!]

 WEED CHAT: SETH 'N RICKY TALK POT WITH BILL SIMMONS: This was from last night's Any Given Wednesday With Bill Simmons on HBO. "High"light: Williams revealing he sautes marijuana in butter in order to stir-fry food in a cannabis flavoring. (I wonder if Malia Obama would enjoy that? OY!) Marijuana has officially been de-stigmatized when a popular actor, a prominent former NFL star and a major sports broadcaster sit around all talking about smoking pot, and doing it as casually as if they were discussing the Olympics. And, perhaps even more remarkably, when the reaction and attitude of an old sports columnist is far, far closer to nonchalant amusement than it is to outrage.

 DOLPHINS, NFL STAT-LEADER BETTING ODDS: Via Bovada today: Passing yards--Drew Brees is favorite at 5-1 odds, then Ben Roethlisberger 6-1 and Philip Rivers 15-2, with Dolphin Ryan Tannehill tied for 16th at 40-1. Receiving yards--Antonio Brown is fave at 2-1, then Julio Jones 3-1 and Odell Beckham 15-2, with Fins' Jarvis Landry tied for 20th at 66-1. Rushing yards--Adrian Peterson is the pick at 3-1, then Todd Gurley 5-1 and Doug Martin 10-1, with Miami's Jay Ajayi tied for 22nd at 50-1.  

COMPLETE 2016-17 HEAT REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE: Highlights include one visit by Dwyane Wade in a Bulls uniform, one visit by Kevin Durant and Golden State, two trips here for LeBron James' Cavaliers and (hallelujah!) no Christmas Day game: 

DATE DAY OPPONENT TIME TV

OCTOBER

26 Wed. @ Orlando 7:00 PM FSS

28 Fri. CHARLOTTE 8:00 PM FSS --- HOME OPENER

30 Sun. SAN ANTONIO 6:00 PM FSS

NOVEMBER

1 Tues. SACRAMENTO 7:30 PM FSS

4 Fri. @ Toronto 7:30 PM FSS

7 Mon. @ Oklahoma City 8:00 PM FSS

10 Thurs. CHICAGO 8:00 PM TNT --- DWYANE WADE'S 1ST AND ONLY VISIT

12 Sat. UTAH 8:00 PM FSS

14 Mon. @ San Antonio 8:30 PM FSS

15 Tues. ATLANTA 7:30 PM FSS

17 Thurs. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM FSS

19 Sat. @ Washington 7:00 PM FSS

21 Mon. @ Philadelphia 7:00 PM FSS

23 Wed. @ Detroit 7:30 PM FSS

25 Fri. @ Memphis 8:00 PM FSS

26 Sat. MEMPHIS 8:00 PM FSS

28 Mon. BOSTON 7:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

30 Wed. @ Denver 9:00 PM FSS

DECEMBER

1 Thurs. @ Utah 9:00 PM FSS

3 Sat. @ Portland 10:00 PM FSS

6 Tues. NEW YORK 7:30 PM FSS

7 Wed. @ Atlanta 7:30 PM FSS

9 Fri. @ Cleveland 7:30 PM FSS

10 Sat. @ Chicago 8:00 PM FSS/NBA TV

12 Mon. WASHINGTON 7:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

14 Wed. INDIANA 7:00 PM FSS/ESPN

16 Fri. L.A. CLIPPERS 8:00 PM FSS

18 Sun. BOSTON 6:00 PM FSS

20 Tues. ORLANDO 7:30 PM FSS

22 Thurs. L.A. LAKERS 7:30 PM FSS

23 Fri. @ New Orleans 8:00 PM FSS

27 Tues. OKLAHOMA CITY 7:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

29 Thurs. @ Charlotte 7:00 PM FSS

30 Fri. @ Boston 7:30 PM FSS

JANUARY

1 Sun. DETROIT 6:00 PM FSS

3 Tues. @ Phoenix 9:00 PM FSS

4 Wed. @ Sacramento 10:30 PM FSS

6 Fri. @ L.A. Lakers 10:30 PM FSS

8 Sun. @ L.A. Clippers 3:30 PM FSS

10 Tues. @ Golden State 10:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

13 Fri. @ Milwaukee 8:00 PM FSS

17 Tues. HOUSTON 7:30 PM FSS/NBA TV

19 Thurs. DALLAS 7:30 PM FSS

21 Sat. MILWAUKEE 7:30 PM FSS

23 Mon GOLDEN STATE 7:30 PM FSS --- ONLY VISIT BY DURANT/WARRIORS

25 Wed. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM FSS

27 Fri. @ Chicago 8:00 PM FSS/ESPN

28 Sat. DETROIT 7:30 PM FSS

30 Mon. BROOKLYN 7:30 PM FSS

FEBRUARY

1 Wed. ATLANTA 7:30 PM FSS

4 Sat. PHILADELPHIA 7:30 PM FSS

6 Mon. @ Minnesota 8:00 PM FSS

8 Wed. @ Milwaukee 8:00 PM FSS

10 Fri. @ Brooklyn 7:30 PM FSS

11 Sat. @ Philadelphia 7:30 PM FSS

13 Mon. ORLANDO 7:30 PM FSS

15 Wed. @ Houston 8:00 PM FSS

24 Fri. @ Atlanta 8:00 PM FSS

25 Sat. INDIANA 8:00 PM FSS

27 Mon. @ Dallas 9:30 PM TNT

MARCH

1 Wed. PHILADELPHIA 7:30 PM FSS

3 Fri. @ Orlando 7:00 PM FSS/ESPN

4 Sat. CLEVELAND 8:00 PM FSS --- 1ST OF 2 VISITS BY LEBRON

6 Mon. @ Cleveland 7:00 PM FSS

8 Wed. CHARLOTTE 7:30 PM FSS

11 Sat. TORONTO 8:00 PM FSS

12 Sun. @ Indiana 6:00 PM FSS/NBA TV

15 Wed. NEW ORLEANS 7:30 PM FSS

17 Fri. MINNESOTA 8:00 PM FSS

19 Sun. PORTLAND 6:00 PM FSS

21 Tues. PHOENIX 7:30 PM FSS

23 Thurs. TORONTO 7:30 PM FSS

26 Sun. @ Boston 6:00 PM FSS

28 Tues. @ Detroit 7:30 PM FSS

29 Wed. @ New York 7:30 PM FSS

31 Fri. NEW YORK 8:00 PM FSS

APRIL

2 Sun. DENVER 6:00 PM FSS/NBA TV

5 Wed @ Charlotte 7:00 PM FSS

7 Fri. @ Toronto 7:30 PM FSS

8 Sat. @ Washington 7:00 PM FSS

10 Mon. CLEVELAND 7:30 PM FSS --- 2ND OF 2 VISITS BY LEBRON

12 Wed. WASHINGTON 8:00 PM FSS

Poll result: Pool wins poll as swimming reigns in Summer Olympics: In an incredibly unpopular poll we asked what is your favorite sport to watch in the Summer Olympics and among five choices swimming led with 31.4 percent, followed by track & field 22.0%, gymnastics 18.7%, basketball 5.1% and soccer 4.2%. Another 18.6% voted "something else."

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Twitter @gregcote

July 12, 2016

The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3: Burned bridges, hurt feelings, now medical drama; plus Miko Grimes' "jew buddies" Tweet on Dolphins, new 'Back In My Day,' UFC sale, Stanton's HR Derby history, Ricky Williams' marijuana video & more

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

1) It is TUESDAY, JULY 12. Condolences, again, to the family of Jim Mandich, the longtime former Dolphin and team broadcaster who passed away five years ago. The family is grieving anew this week over the death of Jim's widow, Bonnie. 2) Congratulations and farewell, Tim Duncan. What a big, successful, classy NBA career. Unsung because his personality never shouted -- a nice way to say he was boring! -- but an all-time great. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, your verdicts on Wade statue and new face of Miami sports & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Today's new 'Back In My Day': Click on Retail Desperation for today's latest Back In My Day segment from the Dan LeBatard Show With Stugotz. Link gets you to the ESPN Radio podcast, and the new BIMD kicks in around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

Six-pack: Six select recent columns, ICYMI or thought 'em so great they deserved another look: Mission Accomplished, Legacy Secure, the latest, our Sunday farewell-Dwyane Wade column. The Ending Was Ugly But the Run Was Sublime, on stunning departure of Wade. These Marlins Deserve Support Despite the Owner, and that tagline says it all. 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.

Burned Bridges, Hurt Feelings and Medical Drama: The Strange Fate of the Heat's Big 3: Click on The Strange Dissolution of Heat's Big 3 to read my latest column, in today's/Tuesday's inky pulp editions and also available online.

MIKO GRIMES INSERTS FOOT IN MOUTH. AGAIN: She cannot and will not shut up. She continues to embarrass herself and husband Brent Grimes on social media. The wife of the former Dolphins and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback took another shot at the Dolphins on Monday, using anti-Semitic language this time. On Twitter, she referred to Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Mikoexecutive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum in writing, verbatim, "Gotta respect ross for keeping his jew buddies employed but did he not see how tannenbaum put the jets in the dumpster w/that sanchez deal?" It might be noted here that the late Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer and his family are descendants of Jewish immigrants who lost family members in the Holocaust. Miko later attempted to clarify -- badly -- that she didn't mean to offend Jewish people. "Think I'm gonna tweet racist remarks in an attempt to offend TWO PEOPLE? Lmao!! Why would I? Why would I want to offend 'Jewish' ppl?" she later Tweeted. Later still, in a statement to ESPN, she said, "When I wrote 'jew buddies' I was speaking about how a lot of communities (Jewish, Christian, gay, sometimes fraternities and sororities) will hire their 'own people' for jobs before others. That's a fact! Why people find facts offensive is strange to me. And now im a racist? Lmao! How?" She continued: "If what I said is racist or anti-Semitic, why isn't it also racist to only hire their own? America is just an easily offended, fake reacting, bunch of cry baby [expletive]s! Anyone that thinks I'm a racist needs to build a [expletive] bridge and get over it. I'm not a racist, I'm a realist." Dear Miko: You might be an idiot, too. And the hedge on might is becoming less and less likely.

SPORTS WORLD GONE MAD: UFC SELLS FOR $4 BILLION: The mega-talent agency WME-IMG is buying mixed martial arts mega-league UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) for $4 billion in a deal announced Monday. vestment firm of Michael Dell, to take over the mixed martial arts company. Said WME-IMG co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell in a statement: "It's been UFCexciting to watch the organization's incredible growth over the last decade. We're now committed to pursuing new opportunities for UFC and its talented athletes to ensure the sport's continued growth and success on a global scale." Four billion makes this the most expensive sports transaction for an organization or team in history. And what the new owners say suggests they expect a growth that make UFC an entity that competes with the NFL, NBA and MLB as a mainstream entity. Said outgoing UFC leader Dana White: "Sport is going to the next level." It'll be interesting to see how the growth plan plays out and how successful it will be. I'll admit I totally mis-read mixed martial arts and UFC when it rose to prominence. I thought it was too violent -- repugnantly so. And I thought the general decline of boxing mirrored a loss of appetite for hand-combat sports like this. I was way wrong. I still don't like UFC. I think it's cartoon violence somewhere between boxing and pro wrestling. But I'm not the desired demographic. UFC has proved enormously popular with young men, especially, and the growing appeal of women fighting has further grown the UFC brand. Four billion still sounds like crazy overspending, but let's see where this change of hands leads.

THE LIST: MARLINS IN HOME RUN DERBY: Last night marked the sixth time the Marlins have had a player in the Home Run Derby, and Giancarlo Stanton was the franchise's first two-time participant and maiden champion with a record 61 homers in three rounds. What a show! Miami was one of 13 clubs that had not had a Derby winner, but that changed fast -- and decisively, as Stanton hit 20 of the night's 21 longest homers. The history of Marlins in the HRD:

Player                    Year    Finish                Winner

Gary Sheffield        1996    T9th of 10         Barry Bonds, Giants

Miguel Cabrera       2006    3rd of 8             Ryan Howard, Phillies

Dan Uggla              2008    T3rd of 8           Justin Morneau, Twins

Hanley Ramirez      2010    2nd of 8            David Ortiz, Red Sox

Giancarlo Stanton   2014    T5th of 10         Yoenis Cespedes, A's

Giancarlo Stanton   2016    1st of 10            Stanton with record 61 homers

RICKY WILLIAMS STILL CHAMPIONING MARIJUANA AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: ESPN's 30 For 30 documentary series has done Ricky Williams ("Run Ricky Run"). Now Sports Illustrated Films weighs in with, "Ricky Williams Takes the High Road," premiering this Wednesday on SI.com. Williams, former Dolphins great continues one of the most enigmatic and interesting characters in South Florida sports history. I'll watch this. Trailer here:

  

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

Twitter @gregcote

May 04, 2016

G1: Heat 102, @ Toronto 96: Reasons Miami is better, will advance; plus LeBron wants Heat next, Bosh ruled out, new Dolphins SB odds, Mavis Staples, 'Back In My Day,' could've-beens, Marlins odds, your verdict on Heat-Raptors & more

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

Dolgasmask1) It is THURSDAY, MAY 5. Watch for a brand new blog posting here later this morning. 2) Sorry Dolfans but a Laremy Tunsil-styled Dolphins logo incorporating a bong gas mask is too funny to not pass along. Tunsil's career may outgrow that infamous draft-night photo, but not soon. Example: This FunnyorDie.com spoof skewers Tunsil. (Warning: Rough language). 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Metrics give Heat 1 in 3 series shot vs. Toronto but I like Miami with poll, Kiper/McShay final thoughts on Dolphins draft, your verdict on Fins draft & more. 4) Click here for my latest Back In My Day. Comes late in podcast, around 1:07 mark. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and Snapchat.

SHULA: A RENEWED APPRECIATION: A health scare that hospitalized Don Shula this week at age 86 invites us to reflect and renew our appreciation for the great longtime former Dolphins coach. Click on Shula: A Renewed Appreciation to read my latest column in full.

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals, my latest, previewing the Heat-Toronto series. Draggin' to Dragon: Dragic Lifts Heat, from Sunday's Game 7 victory. Curious Pick, Major Gamble, on Dolphins making Laremy Tunsil their No. 1 draft pick.

Bosh out rest of playoffs: Heat and Chris Bosh releaseed this joint statement late this afternoon: "The Miami Heat  and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The Heat, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible." No surprise but need to be said given the recent distraction of #BringBoshBack and the NBA Players Association involvement.

LeBron admits he wants Wade, Heat next: Said LeBron James following a Cavs shootaround today, on whether he has thought about facing the Heat in the Eastern finals: "Naturally, of course. That's since I've came back [to Cleveland from Miami]. It'd be great to play against those guys in the postseason. Throughout my whole career, I've always wanted to go against [Dwyane] Wade in a playoff series. We've always talked about it even before we became teammates in '10. It's not been heavy on my mind, but it's crossed my mind throughout my whole career."

Dolphins latest odds: Still no love: No love for Fins in post-draft Super Bowl odds via Bovada today. Miami is 66-1, same as pre-free agency and last in AFC East. Patriots are 7-1 (first overall), Jets 40-1, Bills 50-1. And no Laremy Tunsil among top 10 picks for offensive rookie.

Marlins latest odds: New World Series odds out via Bovada show Marlins the same 50-1 as coming into season despite recent hot streak. One problem? Three favorites to win it all are NL clubs, with Cubs on top at 5-1 and Mets/Nationals (both in Marlins' division) both 10-1. Jose Fernandez is 16-1 for Cy Young (tie, eighth), but Giancarlo Stanton (8 homers) isn't among 14 players listed 20-1 or better for MVP.

G1: HEAT 102, @ TORONTO 96: WE SAW WHY MIAMI IS BETTER TEAM, WILL WIN SERIES: If it's seven games of this, can the heart take it? Miami squandered a late 79-67 lead, went into overtime on Kyle Lowry's desperation half-court 3 at the buzzer, but then prevailed in OT 102-96 last night, fueled by two field goals and a steal by (who else) Dwyane Wade. Reasons Miami is better and will win series: 1) Wade had 24 points and Goran Dragic 26 last night on combined 20-for-41 shooting, seriously outplaying TOR counterparts DeMar DeRozan and Lowry. Lowry, despite the prayer that forced OT, has been awful in the playoffs, shooting 30.6 percent including 3-for-13 last night. That's the worst postseason percentage by any NBA player in a half century, according to Elias Sports Bureau. 2) Miami also hit big with a 52-41 rebounding advantage in Game 1 led by Hassan Whiteside's 17 boards, and that edge should continue. 3) Heat have the perimeter defenders, with Tyler Johnson back and with Rook 1 and Rook 2, to bother the Raptors' game. 4) Erik Spoelstra is a better coach than Dwane Casey. (And by the way, Dwane, our Dwyane is the only one who gets to misspell Dwayne). In sum, a gigantic road win to open the series entering Game 2 Thursday night back in Toronto. ..... Original post: Both teams are coming off watershed series. Toronto is past the first round of the playoffs for only the second time in 21 franchise seasons and the first since 2001. Miami (after missing the playoffs altogether last year) just won its first postseason series since 2006 not involving a man named LeBron James. So the
Heatraptorsquestion now: Who isn't satisfied? Who is hungrier for more? This is the closest of the four conference semifinal series in terms of betting odds and G1the toughest call entering Game 1 tonight at 8 in Toronto. The Raptors understandably are favored, with the better season record, a 3-1 series edge and home-court advantage. But you get the feeling -- by which I mean I get the feeling -- the Raptors are closer to happy-just-to-be-here mode, whereas the Heat are hell-bent-driven for an Eastern finals showdown with LeBron and the Cavs. More pragmatically, I think Miami is a bit deeper, has a tad more offensive pop and enjoys the clear edge in playoff experience. Certainly the Heat come in off a more comfortable Game 7 showing in the last series. Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan may get his points -- he scored 30, 33 and 38 in the Raptors' three season wins over Miami -- but fellow guard Kyle Lowery is lessened by a tender elbow, which could hurt Toronto. The Heat have more go-to options offensively, and one of them, Hassan Whiteside, may be poised for a big series in a favorable matchup if he can stay out of foul trouble. Other key questions: Will we see the vintage Dwyane Wade of old, or the old Wade. Can Goran Dragic consistently be the difference-maker who poured in 25 points in Game 7? Might Joe Johnson be the force he was in helping Brooklyn eliminate Toronto two years ago? Lots of compelling storylines here -- even with Chris Bosh still out and not facing his longtime former team. Miami will need to at least split these two games in Toronto to win the right to come home feeling good about its chances. And tonight might be the night to cherry-pick that road win, with Toronto on a 1-8 in playoff series openers. My series pick: Heat in 6. (Click on Nothing Will Derail a Heat-LeBron Eastern Finals for latest column).

1 EX-DOLPHIN. 1 FORMER HEAT PLAYER (THOUGH BOTH BARELY) MAKE LIST YOU DON'T WANT TO BE ON: ESPN unveils a dubious Top 25 all-time athletes in unfulfilled potential -- the "Could-Have-Beens." Click here for the full list. Two with South Florida ties (albeit brief ones) make it. At No. 14 is running back Lawrence Phillips, who appeared in two Dolphins games in 1997, rushing 18 times for 44 yards. And at No. 1 is center Greg Oden, who played in 23 Heat games in 2013-14, averaging 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

MAVIS STAPLES, AMERICAN TREASURE, PERFORMS TONIGHT IN BROWARD: Mavis Staples performs tonight/Wednesday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, opening for venerable gospel legends The Blind Boys of Alabama. They could as well have been the opening act for her, such is her stature in music and the phenomenal career renaissance she is enjoying at age 76. I am an unabashed admirer and fan who has followed her career since first becoming familiar with her family group the Staple Singers in the '70s. In fact I write a Twitter fan site for her; click on MavisstaplesMavis_Staples for my tribute site, and on MavisStaples for her official site. I first knew of Mavis as the lead singer for the family group that enjoyed several years of chart popularity with songs such as "I'll Take You There," "Respect Yourself" and "If You're Ready." The music intrigued me partly because I couldn't easily categorize it. It was gospel-flavored pop but with also parts R&B (what they used to call soul music) and funk. There was a grit to it. To my ears, the Detroit sound of Motown always seemed like music recorded in an air-conditioned studio, while the less-polished sound of Memphis and Stax Records (the Staples' label) seemed as if it were recorded in a club, with sweat involved. I only learned later that the Staple Singers were first a gospel group singing in Chicago churches and producing standards such as "Uncloudy Day," long before the mainstream success. The group also was intimately involved in the civil rights movement; group leader Roebuck "Pops" Staples and Martin Luther King were close friends. Pops famously told his family, "If he [King] can preach it, we can sing it," and the result were civil-rights anthems such as "Freedom Highway." The video below is a funk-filled, bass-line-driven song about segregationist days called "Down In Mississippi." Mavis Staples is living history. The decades of diverse music -- from gospel roots to socially conscious music to mainstream success -- led the Staple Singers to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. The Staple Singers were finished by the mid-'80s, Pops passed away in 2000. But Mavis was far from done. She was rediscovered by Prince, a fan, and appeared prominently on his 1990 album, Graffiti Bridge. More recently she won a 2011 Grammy for Best Americana Recording with a solo album, You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy of the group Wilco. He also produced her well-received 2013 followup album, One True Vine. A new album, Livin' On a High Note, features performances by Nick Cave, Neko Case and others. A new documentary film, "Mavis!" premiered Feb. 29 on HBO. She will open on tour for Bob Dylan starting in June. Crossing genres and appealing to all audiences, young and old, has marked her career resurgence. She has played jazz fests and folk festivals, appealing to all. Just last week, she played at the youth-skewed Coachella festival, and spoke a moving tribute to Prince, whom she called "my son." Mavis Staples' concerts are intimate, moving and uplifting. She aims to spread joy, and succeeds. If you have not discovered her music, it isn't too late. If you have never seen her live in concert, do treat yourself Wednesday night.

Click on Broward Center for ticket information about Mavis' Wednesday, May 4 show with The Blind Boys of Alabama.

 

Poll result: Heat will win Raptors series, say 73 percent: We asked the likelihold Miami would advance past Toronto in the series starting tonight and it was 28.8 percent voting 60%-plus, 44.6% voting 50-59%, 15.1% voting 40-49% and 11.5% voting 40% or less. That's 73.4% voting over 50% likelihood vs. 26.6% under. 

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 28, 2016

The Chris Bosh Conundrum: Who's right? New poll. Vote now!; plus Heat on brink of playoff elimination, Miami Herald NFL Mock Draft (with Dolphins' surprise at 13) & more

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

Meshow1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 28. Thanks again to ESPN Radio for re-branding their national show to better reflect my impact every Tuesday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hornets tie Heat series 2-2 with will-Miami-advance poll, court favors Dolphins in Brady ruling, how Panthers fans should feel after elimination, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) 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: Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack, the latest, off last night's Game 5 loss. Keep It Simple, Dolphins: 2 Names, on Miami's best-case scenario for its No. 1 draft pick. Calling Jaromir Jagr, on Panthers' need for Jagr to end his playoff goals as it entered Game 6.

BoshTHE CHRIS BOSH CONUNDRUM: WHO'S RIGHT?: A good deal of my column off last night's Heat Game 5 home loss (click here) is on sidelined Chris Bosh foisting himself suddenly into playoffs with his (and his wife's) #BringBoshBack social-media effort that has caught Heat management off guard. Bottom line: Bosh, out since Feb. 9 with a recurrence of his blood clot issues, has been cleared to play by a personal doctor and says he is ready now, while the club doctors have not yet cleared him. Curious what Heat fans think. Hence, this poll! Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results. Vote soon, though. We'll call a winner in a couple of hours as we pivot to a new blogpost on tonight's NFL Draft.

G5: CHARLOTTE 90, HEAT 88: CRUCIAL HOME LOSS HAS MIAMI DOWN 3-2, FACING ELIMINATION: Dwyane Wade's 25 points weren't enough Wednesday night in a 90-88 Heat home loss -- the third straight Miami loss in this first-round series. Charlotte regained its 3-point touch with a dozen 3's including the go-ahead points by Courtney Lee with 25 second left. Click on Heat Have Bigger Concerns Now Than #BringBoshBack for my column from last night's game. ..... Original post: With both teams 2-0 at home in this series, the onus is on Miami tonight at 8 to again protect its home court by the bay. Clearly, the loser of this game will be in trouble in the series with Game 6 back up in Charlotte. Miami has shot 58 percent in two home wins vs. only 36 percent in two road Heathornetslosses. The Hornets are expected to have Nic Batum back available tonight from an ankle sprain but otherwise may be at a disadvantage, at least historically. The G5Heat are 13-2 in their past 15 playoff home games, the only losses both to San Antonio in the 2014 Finals. And Miami is on a 19-2 run vs. Charlotte in the 305. The Hornets have not won a road playoff game, anywhere, since 2002, losing nine in a row in the meantime. For those streaks to continue Miami will need much better defense in the paint tonight against the slashing runs of Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin, who combined for 55 points in Game 4. Hassan Whiteside needs to raise his game. Also expect a bounce-back night from Dwyane Wade. Watch out, though, if Charlotte finds its touch on 3-point shots. Hornets were fourth in league in 3's during the season but have clanked in only 23.9 percent in the first round. Fouls also may be a factor tonight. CHA has taken 122 free throws to MIA's 94 through four games. "We've probably fouled more in these four games than we have in the last four weeks," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "Give them credit. They're aggressive." Meantime the post-LeBron, no-Bosh Heat still have some drawing power as a TV attraction, apparently. NBA TV's coverage of Heat-Hornets Game 4 drew 662,000 viewers, the network's most-seen playoff telecast since 2014. Its four-game playoffs average this month is 471,000 viewers.

25TH ANNUAL OFFICIAL MIAMI HERALD MOCK DRAFT: SURPRISE! DOLPHINS SELECT HOUSTON CB WILLIAM JACKSON IN FIRST ROUND: Our 2016 NFL Mock Draft is now online and shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions, including Super Bonus Draft Facts as always. Click on Mockin' It '16 to read the entire first-round mock draft it in full. We cut to the chase here with our synopsis on Miami's pick:

William jackson13. MIAMI DOLPHINS: WILLIAM JACKSON, CB, HOUSTON — I sort of doubt Miami will stay at 13. I can see them trying to trade up into the 7-8 range to select the RB Ezekiel Elliott — a bold move of the headline-grabbing type that is part of the Mike Tannenbaum canon. But I also can see them anticlimactically trading down because, after Jalen Ramsey and Vernon Hargreaves no DB is worth this high a pick and likely could be gotten lower. That includes Jackson (pictured) or Ohio State’s Eli Apple, both of whom might be labeled a “reach” taken this high. If the Fins do stay at 13, though — and assuming Elliott, Myles Jack and Hargreaves are all off the board – then grabbing the best available corner here would make sense as an urgent need. Apple may well be rated slightly higher by Miami and might be a safer mock pick for me here. But Jackson is older, more mature and more ready now than the riskier Apple. Jackson looks a safer bet for the Dolphins, and Miami cannot afford a first-round misfire.

GREG COTE'S 2016 NFL DRAFT VIDEO: Today I am holed up hammering out my 25th annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft. The first-round prognostications should be online this afternoon before shipping to Thursday's inky pulp editions. Meantime click below (or on Mock 'n Roll) for my NFL Draft preview video:

 
TWO THOUGHTS ON DOLPHINS' VETERAN MINICAMP: Today is Day 2 of Miami's three-day voluntary veterans minicamp, and the news thus far is that four defensive players -- Reshad Jones, ReshadjonesNdamukong Suh, Mario Williams and Koa Misi --were absent from Day 1 practice. It was known Williams (personal issues) and Misi (illness) would be missing, but the absences of Jones (pictured) and Suh -- arguably the defense's two best players -- were unexcused and notable. Two thoughts: 1) It's a VOLUNTARY minicamp. And it's APRIL. You can't call something voluntary and then be mad not everyone volunteers. Jones is pouting and holding his breath for a new contract. Suh has done pretty well for himself preparing for seasons how he sees fit. If they're still AWOL when mandatory minicamps begin in June, then we have an issue. 2) There is, however, something noble in the concept of "leading by example." Jones is the highest-paid strong safety in the NFL at $28 million over four years, yet wants more. Suh is making a whopping $114 million over six years. For that kind of money, though it isn't mandatory, it sure would be nice if they "volunteered" to be with their teammates.   
 
Poll result: Optimism for Heat advance, but also doubts: We asked what you think is the likelihood the Miami Heat (series tied 2-2 entering tonight) will advance past the Charlotte Hornets in the first round, and results were wildly mixed. A plurality of 25.6 percent said 80% or better, 17.4% said 70-79% and 20.3% said 60-69%. But more than one-third of all voters said only 50-59% (19.8%) or less than 50% (16.9%).
 
Revisit our blog a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest posts...

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April 22, 2016

Panthers lose OT heartbreaker, trail Isles 3-2; plus what should be Dolphins' priority for No. 1 draft pick? New poll. Vote now!; also 'Patrick & Zo,' homicide rates and lesson in them, athletes on 'most influential' list, reliving Prince in Miami & more

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

Passover Tubman1) It is FRIDAY, APRIL 22. A most happy Passover to our Jewish readers and friends. Also, happy Earth Day and thank you, mother! 2) Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Imagine you'd proposed that idea to her before she died in 1913, seven years before women had even won the right to vote! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): History! Heat and Panthers both win in playoffs on same day for first time, R.I.P. Prince, ESPN fires Schilling, Marlins' awful start, NBA jersey ads & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

"The national group, People Who Thought the Dolphins Might Actually Get Josh Norman, is meeting tonight. Waffle House. Corner booth." --Greg Cote

The Last 3: My three most recent columns, ICYMI or thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: For 2 Magical Games, Heat Is Showtime East, the latest, off Heat's Game 2 win. Rook 1, Rook 2, on Heat's refreshing, uncommon reliance on rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. This Is the Upside, off Heat's impressive Game 1 victory.

G5: N.Y. ISLANDERS 2, PANTHERS 1 (2OT): CATS NOW TRAIL 3-2 HEADING TO BROOKLYN: Florida loses 2-1 in double-overtime past midnight and now faces elimination in Game 6 Sunday. Click on Cats Need Jagr's Goals Punch for my column from the game. ..... Original post: All four games so far have been one-goal margins if you exclude one last- Catsislessecond empty netter. In Florida's two wins Roberto Luongo has given up two total goals and in the two losses nine goals have whizzed past him, so figure defense and Luongo's performance naturally will be a key tonight starting at 8. But defense-first hasn't really been the Cats' mindset thus far in the postseason as it usually was in G5the regular season. You know how the Miami Heat are going nuts offensively so far in the playoffs? The Panthers are showing a similar aggressiveness. In the NHL there is an analytic rating that measures a team's total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations when both teams are full strength. Florida's rating was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league, the number suggesting a team that tried to protect leads with puck possession rather than push for additional goals. But in the first four playoff games the Cats are an NHL-leading plus-46, signaling push-forward aggressiveness. How important is tonight? Historically in the NHL Game 5 winners of a 2-2 series go on to win the series 78.4 percent of the time. Late tonight, one team will be one win away from its first Stanley Cup series advance in two decades (Panthers' last was 1996, Islanders' '93).

Tannenbaum"DEAR MIKE TANNENBAUM...:" SETTING DOLPHINS' DRAFT PRIORITY: In six days, next Thursday night, your Miami Dolphins make their first-round selection in the NFL Draft, 13th overall barring a trade up or down. That puts Dolphins roster builder Mike Tannenbaum (pictured) in the throes of a huge decision. What to prioritize with so Draftroommany needs? Will you help him, please? I'll have a Dolphins draft column in this Sunday paper's (online Saturday) and of course will have my annual Official Miami Herald Mock Draft in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday). So you'll be getting plenty of my specific thoughts on who the Dolphins should and will select No. 1. Now it's your turn. I invite you to say what you think is Miami's greatest position need and what you think its draft priority should be, assuming a player of comparable talent were available at each position. Say you happen to be in an elevator with Tannebuam. You have 10 seconds to share your thoughts as he pretends to listen. What are you telling him? The poll is alphabetical. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

PatrickzoTRAILER: 'PATRICK & ZO': Sports Illustrated has a new SI Films documentary, Patrick & Zo, newly available on SI.com. The doc explores the kinship and rivalry between menacing defensive giants Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who both starred at Georgetown University and then faced each other as star centers throughout their NBA careers. (Zo, of course, is the former Miami Heat star and now a club vice president). Click here to see the film's trailer: Patrick & Zo

GLOBAL HOMICIDE RATES, AND THE LESSON IN THEM: I read with interest the latest annual survey of the Mexican Citizens Council for Public Security, which ranks the world's most dangerous large cities (300,000-plus population) based on the number of homicides per 100,000 people. The dubious top three: Caracas, Venezuela with 119.87; San Pedro Sula, Honduras with 111.03; and DangerSan Salvador, El Salvador with 108.54. Four U.S. cities unfortunately make the top 50: St. Louis is 15th with 59.23, Baltimore 19th with 54.98, Detroit 28th with 43.89 and New Orleans 32nd with 41.44. Ten countries account for all of the top 50 most murderous cities: Brazil with an astounding 21, Venezuela 8, Mexico 5, U.S. and South Africa 4 each, Colombia 3, Honduras 2, and 1 each for El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica. (Click here for an article that includes the entire top 50). Forty-one of the most homicidal cities are Latin American, thanks largely to Brazil. Zero European cities are on the list. Two quick thoughts: 1) I wonder if President Donald Trump will now move to ban all Brazilians from entering the U.S? 2) Notice that zero Muslim countries are in the top 50. Hmm. That is despite radical terrorists (the most indiscriminate murderers of all) inflicting the most havoc on Muslims in countries where they live and unfairly fomenting broad-brush anti-Muslim hysteria in America and elsewhere thanks to folks like Trump. What the latest statistics suggest is that -- if you erased the scourge of terrorism from the globe -- you'd probably be safer from murder living in Baghdad or Raqqa than you would be in St. Louis or Baltimore. We can take whatever lesson or reminder from this that we wish. Here's one, and I think it's a reminder that we Americans in 2016 could use: Terrorists are murderous people. Muslims are not.

SIX SPORTIES ON TIME'S 'MOST INFLUENTIAL' LIST: Time's 2016 100 Most Influential people list (given as a group, not in order) includes, alphabetically: track star Usain Bolt; the Warriors' Stephen Curry; Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton; former UM football player-turned-actor Dwyane "The Rock" Johnson; UFC star Ronda Rousey; and golfer Jordan Spieth. OK, I guess. Each is very successful is his or her field. The influential part is open to interpretation, I reckon.

GONE TOO SOON, PRINCE: The great musician and performer died suddenly yesterday at 57. Recalling his Super Bowl halftime performance in Miami on Feb. 4, 2007, amid a rainstorm and lightning. The show must go on...:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

April 09, 2016

Kiper's latest Dolphins mock pick, and why Fins won't get the "it" guy they covet; plus should Heat retire LeBron's jersey? Poll. Vote!; also, Heat/Panthers playoff outlook, does golf miss Tiger? (poll), your Rock Hall verdict, mourning Merle & more

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

Beerbff1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 9. On yesterday's date in 1974 Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth. 2) The day before was National Beer Day. Wait. I thought every day was. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jose Fernandez's first home loss has Marlins under early pressure, Rock Hall poll, R.I.P. Merle Haggard, judging Justise Winslow, UM hoops' 2017 title hopes, M.J. vs Steph verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope and now Snapchat, too.

The Last 3: My most recent general columns, ICYMI or in case you thought them so wonderful they deserved another look: Out Of Excuses, off Marlins Opening Night. Power and Porcelain, Marlins season preview. Mystifying Offseason, on Dolphins' uneven efforts to improve.

ElliottKIPER'S LATEST DOLPHINS MOCK PICK; WHY FINS LIKELY WON'T GET THE PLAYER THEY COVET MORE: ESPN's Mel Kiper puts forth his NFL Mock Draft 4.0 today and has the Dolphins selecting Ohio State outside linebacker Darren Lee 13th overall. Maybe. But it's another OSU product who is Miami's latest "it" guy. Fins have scheduled a visit with Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (pictured), who would fill a glaring need and be a Day 1 starter. What a great pick he'd be at 13. One problem. He won't be there. It's a near-certainty Miami would have to trade up to have a shot at  him, and an equal certainty that won't happen. Elliott is especially coveted because he is this draft's only RB stamped 1R-quality. Scouts Inc.'s Top 32 has Elliott slotted No. 5 overall, Kiper's new mock has him going sixth (to Ravens), and Todd McShay's latest Top 32 has him rated fifth. McShay defies his own ratings by having Elliott fall to Miami at 13, but that is unlikely. It would be the kind of dumb luck the Dolphins haven't had much of on draft day since that Marino guy fell to them in '83.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Fins open their 51st season with a quartet of fake preseason games: at Giants Aug. 11-15, at Cowboys Aug. 18-22, home vs. Falcons at 8 p.m. on NBC Thursday Aug. 25, then home vs. Titans Sept. 1-2. Exact dates and times of games other than Atlanta are to be announced. All except Atlanta will air locally on WFOR/CBS4.

LebronheatSHOULD THE HEAT RETIRE LEBRON JAMES' JERSEY NUMBER?: The Heat surprised some by announcing they'd ceremonially retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey next season. Will they do the same someday for LeBron James? ESPN talking head and unofficial LeBron biographer Brian Windhorst says so -- not reporting it as fact, but merely predicting it. What do you think? The pro side: In his four seasons James played a major role in Miami reaching four NBA Finals and winning two championships. The con side: Four seasons is a little light for retired-jersey status, and LeBron left shabbily, in a way that angered Pat Riley and other Heaters. Your verdict goes here. Vote and check back often to monitor evolving results:

FOR HEAT IT'S AS EASY A-B-C; FOR PANTHERS, THE TUNE IS NEW YORK, NEW YORK: This spring-into summer marks only the fifth time in 22 shared seasons that the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers both will be in the playoffs together. The Heat is in a four-team scrum for the Nos. 3 through 6 seeds in the NBA Eastern Conference and, depending on their finish, they'll face A, B or C -- Atlanta, Boston or Charlotte -- in the first round. Heat will avoid LeBron James and Cleveland until the conference finals if they finish third or sixth, but risk facing the Cavs one round sooner by ending fourth or fifth. In the NHL, the Panthers are the Eastern division winner with the second-most points and thus will face the wild-card team with the most points. That'll be the New York Islanders or New York Rangers. How the Heat and Panthers have fared this season vs. the teams they could face in the postseason:

AbcHeat vs. A-B-C:

3-1 vs. Atlanta, +28 points: L 99-92 Nov / W 100-88 Dec / W 105-87 Jan / W 115-111 Feb.

0-2 vs. Boston, -22 points: L 105-95 Nov / L 101-89 Feb / @ Celtics Apr 13.

2-2 vs. Charlotte, -7 points: W 104-94 Oct / L 99-81 Dec / W 98-95 Feb / L 109-106 Mar.

Latest Bovada betting odds have Celtics 50-1 to win NBA title, Heat 66-1, Hawks 75-1 and Hornets 100-1. Golden State is prohibitive overall pick at 5-7, followed by San Antonio 4-1 and Cleveland 13-4. 

NynyPanthers vs. New York, New York:

2-1 vs. Islanders with Cats leading in goals 10-5: W 3-2, so Nov / W 5-1 Dec / L 3-2 Mar.

1-2 vs. Rangers with goals tied 9-9: L 5-4, ot Nov / W 3-0 Jan / L 4-2 Mar.

Newest betting odds via Bovada have Rangers 18-1 to win NHL title, Panthers 20-1 and Islanders 28-1. Overall faves are Washington 17-4, Los Angeles 7-1 and Chicago 15-2.

DOES GOLF MISS TIGER WOODS?: The Masters has begun in Augusta, with Tiger Woods conspicuously absent as he continues (laboriously) recovering from back and other ailments. Four of his 14 majors have been green jackets but he hasn't won a major of any kind since 2008, and whether he'll win another one is in doubt. The sport he once dominated has seemingly moved on from him. Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth top the marquee now. Can Tiger, now 40, still make a comeback? Do we still care? Tell us what you think in this poll.

Poll result: You said Chicago (the band) is most deserving new Hall inductee: The 31st Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions are Friday, we asked which of the five latest inductees are most deserving, and here was your call: Chicago 39.2 percent, Steve Miller 19.8%, Deep Purple 15.7%, N.W.A. 15.7% and Cheap Trick 9.7%. Personally, none of the five have been that important in my life but the pretty clear vote probably was Chicago in terms of commercial success and N.W.A. for social significance.

STILL BUMMIN' ABOUT MERLE: So let's throw another video of his up in here. It's Haggard's signature hit, with a little help from his friend starting at about the one-minute mark:

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2016

Hurricanes out in Sweet 16: How successful was season? Poll. Vote now!; plus my updated bracket, Serena Williams, Miami Open tennis vs. Doral golf poll, LeBron's weird dream, McShay's latest Fins mock, your Brightest Future winner (tight!) & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 26. Did you make it a good Good Friday, Christians? 2) Happy 69th birthday today to Elton John, one of my musical and cultural heroes. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Bright Futures 25&U poll, Canes sartorially, Cote vs. Stugotz, Serena backs Miami Open, Dolphins on the cheap, your Obama-Cuba verdict, Melania Trump ad & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVinePeriscope -- and now on Snapchat, too, @upsetbird2.

Serena and the Miami Open: The Miami Open on Key Biscayne helped raise Serena Williams, and vice versa. That symbiosis is the theme of my latest column. Click on Serena and the Miami Open to read it. 

End of the bracket for me: SliceMiami.com was down to its Final Four in the Media bracket and I made it, but lost in my semifinal to the 'Gotz Army of my 790 The Ticket/ESPN Radio colleague, Stugotz. He's now in the Media final and crushing rival station WQAM's Marc Hochman. Oh my. Juggernaut.

McShay's mock picks for Dolphins, UM: ESPN's Todd McShay's mock draft 4.0 has Fins picking Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott 13th overall and Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah in second round, 42nd overall. Only Miami Hurricane in the first two rounds: CB Artie Burns, 45th overall to Rams.

MARCH MADNESS: RUN IS DONE FOR HURRICANES; UM ELIMINATED IN SWEET 16: Miami was swamped 92-69 by Villanova in the NCAA Sweet 16 in Louisville. That's makes it three Canessweet16Sweet 16s for UM but still no Elite Eight. Sheldon McClellan did his part with 26 points tonight but got too little help. The story, though, was Miami not containing a really effective 'Nova attack. Villanova shot 62.7 percent from the field including 10-for-15 on 3's, plus 18 of 19 on free throws. Seems like they never missed. I'd foreseen it in my preview here, writing, "Mostly the matchup figures as how the Canes' defense fares in limiting 'Nova's big-time offense, which has averaged 82 points over the past month and has shot 58.6 percent so far in the NCAAs." Villanova, the nation's No. 1-ranked team for three weeks in February, was a four-point favorite and showed why. I liked Miami in an upset, but I guess that was homer parochial thinking. They needed another lights-out performance from guard Angel Rodriguez and didn't get it. Bottom line? Miami is not Elite yet, literally or figuratively. But Jim Larranaga is getting them closer. Progress. Overall a good season that did Miami proud. Agree? Take a dip in our poll.

NCAA Bracketeering, updated: Friday--My teams were 1-3, meaning 1-1 with teams still alive (North Carolina advanced) and two others previously eliminated. Overall--I'm 37-19 thus far in men's NCAA Tournament games. The bad news? I have only two teams still alive in the Elite Eight. The good news? They include Kansas, my pick to win it all. Cinderella Meter--28.6% (16 of 56 games have been upsets so far based on seeding). Today--I very much need Kansas to  beat Villanova. I have no dog left in the Oklahoma-Oregon hunt.

ON LEBRON'S 'DREAM TEAM,' STATE OF HEAT: 1) LeBron James said this week he would "take a pay cut" to play on the same team with close friends Dwyane Wade (once Lebrondreamingmore), Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Said James: "I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP. I would actually take a pay cut to do that." Quick thought: Given the age and career arc of each, is 'Bron talking about an Old-Timers League? 2) The Heat's 112-88 loss to San Antonio Wednesday night was a reality check and a reminder of the distance between Miami and the best teams in the NBA. Here is another: Miami is now 4-9 this season against the five teams with clearly better records: Golden State, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and Toronto. It's 2-1 vs. the Cavaliers, 2-8 vs. the other four.

Doral golf MiamiopenMIAMI OPEN TENNIS VS. WGC DORAL GOLF: The World Golf Championship event at Doral just ended, continuing the PGA Tour's 53-year run in South Florida. Now the Miami Open tennis tournament is underway on Key Biscayne -- Serena Williams won last evening in the first marquee match -- continuing that event's more than 30-year history in South Florida. But are prestigious tournaments right below being one of the sport's four majors. But both annual local sports institutions are in jeopardy. Doral could lose the greatest men's golfers in the world over politics, because the PGA Tour may distance itself from Donald Trump-owned properties. Key Biscayne could lose the best men's and women's tennis players in the world over legalities, related to a court case that will determine whether needed facility improvements are permitted. My question here: Which of these two major annual events is most important to you? I hope the answer for many of you is "both!" But which would you most hope stays where it is if you could choose only one? Take a dip in our poll and be heard!

JosePOLL RESULT: BRIGHTEST FUTURE? J'S HAVE IT AS JOSE, JUSTISE, JARVIS DOMINATE VOTE: We asked which of South Florida's 25-and-under sports stars has the brightest future, and gave you 14 choices and three votes. The clear overall top three in a tight race: Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez (21.9 percent), Heat forward Justise Winslow (20.3%) and Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry (19.2%). Jose is pictured tipping his cap to thank you for the vote. Rounding out the top five were Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker with 9.3% and Heat guard Josh Richardson at 8.7%, followed by the top-ranking Florida Panther, Sasha Barkov, with 7.7%. Popular poll. Thanks to all who weighed in.

BOSH'S NEW PUBLIC-SERVICE AD: Sidelined Heat star Chris Bosh is featured (along with Draymond Green, Gordon Hayward and Becky Hammon) in a new LeanIn.org video for its public-awareness campaign in support of gender equality. Here it is:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote

March 08, 2016

Where does Peyton Manning rank among all-time great QBs? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins' trade with Philly a dubious blockbuster, Scott 'n Trump win Doral, the Wonder of Whiteside quantified, latest Hot Button Top 10, Trump vs. Kramden video & more

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

Windhorst1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 8. No radio for me today, with Dan LeBatard and Stugotz taking the week off from their show, which I normally co-host on Tuesdays. 2) There probably has been funnier erroneous information used to describe the person on the phone, but I can't think of any better than what's pictured at right. 3) Miami tie to the Falcons' are-you-gay question of a draft prospect. The position coach who asked it is Marquand Manuel, the former Florida Gator who went to Miami High. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Revisiting my infamous "trade Marino" column, Phil Mickelson's rebirth, silly furor over my Eric Reid impression & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Dolphins' deal with Eagles must prove itself a blockbuster: Miami is giving up draft picks to Philadelphia to acquire veteran cornerback Byron Maxwell and young linebacker Kiki Alonso. I am doubtful this rises to the level of a blockbuster trade. There is a reason both players were available. Maxwell has disappointed in Philly and was bad last season, though his arrival likely would signal the departure of Brent Grimes. I'd still consider drafting Florida Gators CB Vernon Hargreaves No. 8 overall. As for Alonso, he was agreat as a rookie, missed 2014 after major knee surgery and disappointed in his comeback year last season. This is a gamble for Miami. 

Scott, Trump win Doral: Click on King Adam and The Donald for my column from Doral off Sunday's final round of the World Golf Championships event. Adam Scott became the first since Lee Trevino in 1973 to win both South Florida PGA Tour events back to back. But Donald Trump owned the day, and the attention, at his own course as the Florida primary loomed.

ManningWHAT IS PEYTON'S PLACE IN THE PASSING PANTHEON?: Click on For Manning, An Epic Career Ends (Almost) Perfectly for today's latest column by me. We discuss Manning's place in history as he formally announces his retirement yesterday, going out a champion after his second Super Bowl win. There is a clear Big 5 of NFL quarterbacks (Mount Rushmore-plus?) in terms of prolific numbers. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Dan Marino (that's alphabetical) are the top five in various order in career touchdowns passes, yards and completions. But there have been other great quarterbacks, of course, from Otto Graham and Johnny Unitas to Joe Montana and John Elway and now Aaron Rodgers. So where does Manning -- the career leader in TDs and yards -- rank among the all-time greatest quarterbacks by however you define that crown? Take a dip in our poll.

WhitesideTHE WONDER OF WHITESIDE, QUANTIFIED: What have we here in Hassan Whiteside? How special is Miami's blossoming 26-year-old, 7-foot center? How many reasons do the Heat have to make not losing him in free agency this summer a franchise priority? I wanted to quantify those rhetorical questions by comparing what Whiteside does best -- rebound and block shots -- against the most prolific at doing that across the club's 28 seasons. The methodology: I took the six players who rank in Heat's career top 10 in both total rebounds and in blocks, and computed their per-game average in combined boards and swats. Then I figured where Whiteside would rank, presuming Alonzo Mourning as the measuring stick. Here are the results, with all figures updated entering Sunday's home win over Philadelphia:

Player (Era)                                    Rebounds / Blocks    Averages        Combined R&B Avg.

Hassan Whiteside (2014-current)      1,100 / 329            10.89 / 3.26            14.15

Rony Seikaly (1988-94)                    4,544 / 610            10.35 / 1.39            11.74

Alonzo Mourning (1996-02, '05-08) 4,807 / 1,625           8.11 / 2.74            10.85

P.J. Brown (1996-00)                        2,251 / 305              7.93 / 1.07              9.00

Chris Bosh (2010-current)                2,816 / 332              7.33 / 0.86              8.20

Udonis Haslem (2003-current)         5,649 / 246              7.02 / 0.31              7.34

Dwyane Wade (2003-current)          4,060 / 747              4.84 / 0.89              5.74

Bottom line? Seikaly, from the expansion era, was the best pure rebounder the Heat has had, without question. Likewise Zo was the best pure shot-blocker, without question. But in the combined art of boards and blocks, Whiteside's per-game average with the Heat is better than both -- 23.3 percent better overall than Mourning, and 17.0% better than Seikaly.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive 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. GOLF: Scott wins trophy, Trumps wins attention at WGC-Doral: Adam Scott won the World Golf Championships event at the Blue Monster but event host Donald Trump won the day at Doral Sunday, schmoozing thousands of fans in advance of the Florida primary. Conspicuously, though, afterward, Trump was not the one who presented the trophy to the winner. Perhaps his hands were too small to hold it?

2. UM BASKETBALL: Hurricanes stumble heading into conference Championship Week: The No. 7-ranked Miami men are headed to Washington D.C. for the ACC Tournament (their first game is Thursday night) after losing at Virginia Tech Saturday to end 24-6 and squander a shot at the ACC regular-season crown. Meanwhile the No. 21 Canes women reached their tourney's semifinal before losing Saturday to Duke. Both UM teams will hear their names called early for the NCAA Tournament in six days on Selection Sunday. 

3. FIU: Scandal rocks Panthers' women's basketball program: FIU suspended women’s basketball coach Marlin Chinn after the team captain accused him of pursuing a sexual relationship with her. Remember the good old days, when the worst thing about that team's season was its 4-25 record?

4. HEAT: Johnson fitting in, everything clicking for surging Heat: Newly acquired Joe Johnson has fit right in, Hassan Whiteside is focused and dominating, Dwyane Wade looks good, Miami shot 67.5 percent against the Bulls, the Heat’s pace has picked up and the team has won five in a row. All would be well, except Chris Bosh is still missing, along with any info on a prognosis.

5. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Slumping Cats fall out of division lead: Florida has lost its long-held Atlantic Division lead and fallen behind Tampa Bay as the Lightning have won nine games in a row while the Cats have dropped four of the past five entering tonight's home date with Boston. The good news? Sunshine State rules division!

6. DOLPHINS: NFL, Fins prepare for free agency; Williams visits Miami: Available players may sign with new teams beginning this Wednesday. Big question in Miami: Will Fins re-sign or lose RB Lamar Miller and DE Olivier Vernon? Don’t expect a blockbuster signing by Miami a la Ndamukong Suh last year, although ex-Bills DE Mario Williams visited Fins Saturday. Club restructured deals with Suh and Koa Misi to free up spending money. 

7. PEYTON MANNING: Quarterback to announce retirement: Various media reports are that Broncos QB Peyton Manning will announce his retirement today/Monday, which the team has confirmed. He goes out chased by allegations of his involvement in HGH and an incident with a female trainer while at Tennessee. But mostly he goes out a champion, and an all-time great.

8. MARLINS: Fish host Yankees on Tuesday: Spring training drones on, and no spring game is particularly important, but Marlins-Yankees in Jupiter on Tuesday is sexier than most.

9. BUD COLLINS: Tennis' loses its legendary journalist/historian: Bud Collins, for decades America's premier voice of tennis as writer and broadcaster and distinctive in his trademark loud, colorful pants, died at 86 after suffering from Parkinson's and dementia. The upcoming Miami Open on Key Biscayne, which starts March 21, had better honor Collins in a big way.

10. SOCCER: MLS opens 21st season: Major League Soccer launched its 21st season on Sunday. David Beckham's Miami franchise is on deck. Hopefully. Eventually. Maybe.

Missing the cut: Nearing a conclusion is Erin Andrews' civil suit against the Nashville Marriott she says facilitated the stalker who published a nude video of her shot through an altered peephole. Man that was a long sentence! ... Conor McGregor loses UFC 196. Why s watching an ego deflated so damned satisfying!? ... Atlanta Falcons asked a potential draftee if he was gay. "What's wrong with that!?" said every Republican presidential candidate ... LeBron James worked out with Dwyane Wade in Miami during a break in the NBA schedule. "Thank you," said rumor-mongering social media ... The Iditarod sled-dog race is underway in Alaska. I wonder if Sarah Palin can see it form he backyard? ... Four Florida Panthers including American Aaron Ekblad were named to World Cup of Hockey rosters, which might be impressive if I were familiar with that event ... U.S. and Germany play in women's soccer Wednesday at FAU ... Fort Lauderdale Strikers are on a two-week trip to China. Hey bring back some of the jobs they stole from us would ya? ... Jimmie Johnson won his 76th NASCAR race. "I'm still the better Jimmy Johnson," said the former UM football coach ... The Tampa Bay Rays' spring game vs. Cuba in Havana was set for March 22. Anybody in Miami still care enough to protest or are we past that? ... UM baseball still No. 6 in the rankings. Updates as warranted ... Coral Springs' Lexi Thompson, still only 21, won her seventh LPGA tournament. Nobody likes a show-off, Lexi.

DONALD TRUMP MEETS RALPH KRAMDEN: There is much annoying about the Internet, but then something like this pops up and makes you smile:

 

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February 14, 2016

The new Hot Button Top 10; plus ominous Marlins news, ominous Dolphins odds, Hold Me Closer, Bernie Sanders (the video) & more

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

Valentines1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14. Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful wife and to all our abundantly appreciated female readers. I wish you love. 2) ICYMI, click on The Forte Factor for my most recent column on how the Dolphins should explore signing Matt Forte if Lamar Miller leaves and the price is right. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Dolphins/Matt Forte with poll, quantifying Heat's bad 3-point shooting, Panthers' record pace, Dwight Howard, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's weird video game & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (FEB. 14): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive 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. NBA: Wade, not Bosh rep Heat in All-Star Game in Toronto: Miami entered the break fifth in the East after a week that included the club saying it would retire Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 32. Only Dwyane Wade will represent the Heat in Sunday's ASG with a calf strain rendering Chris Bosh a spectator. Do you think between the two of them they could kidnap a 3-point shooter and bring him back to Miami?

2. PANTHERS: Uh oh. Cats hit a lull as Cats chase record: Division-leading Florida continues a six-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh on Monday on pace for the most regular-season points in franchise history. But Florida now has lost four of past five, the last two by a combined 10-3. Uh-oh time?

3. HIGH SCHOOLS: Miami Jackson makes history with female football coach: Jackson High made Bernice Brunson the first female head coach in Florida prep football history, the same day it also named former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as defensive boss. Give 'em this: Jackson sure knows how to get your attention.

4. HURRICANES: UM men, women both face big road tests on Sunday: The 12th-ranked Canes men visit rival Florida State on Sunday while the 19th-ranked women play at No. 3 Notre Dame. Can’t recall another year (can you?) when both UM teams were thinking Sweet 16 and it wasn't just wishful thinking.

5. MARLINS: Spring is springing as Marlins prepare to report: Baseball unfurls this coming Friday as Marlins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Jupiter. Fans hope for a playoff contender under new manager Don Mattingly. Alas, the Marlins betting over/under on wins, 81, is not a playoff number.

6. UM BASEBALL: High hopes as Hurricanes open season: Jim Morris' Hurricanes open their season at home vs. Rutgers with a weekend series starting this coming Friday. UM is No. 6 in the preseason polls. No pressure or anything. Omaha Or Bust, that's all.

7. SOCCER: Beckham seeks outside investors for Miami MLS team: Miami's Major League Soccer pointman David Beckham is seeking investors, and the places he's looking include Russia, China and Qatar. Becuase I guess nobody has money in any countries that would not be a controversial partner.

8. NFL: Denver still celebrating, Manning still deciding: One week later, Denver is still celebrating its Super Bowl win, Peyton Manning is still deciding whether or not to retire, and Cam Newton is still trying to convince people (and maybe himself) that it's OK to be immature and rude in a postgame news conference.

9. DOLPHINS: Slow time but a busy week for Fins: Miami cut two marginal players (Brice McCain, Quinton Coples) in salary-cap moves, tweaked its coaching staff and parted ways with an assistant GM. Perhaps most interesting: Fins could need a RB if Lamar Miller leaves, and Matt Forte just came available. Hmm...

10. VALENTINE'S DAY: Hope you didn't forget it's Sunday, guys: Valentine's Day either originated as a Western Christian liturgical day of feasting in honor of Saint Valentinus, or was invented by Hallmark, I can't remember which.

Missing the cut: His agent confirmed Marshawn Lynch will retire. "No comment," said the media ... USA Curling National Championships ended Saturday in Jacksonville, surprising analysts who didn't know we curled in America ... Hassan Whiteside lost his cool, threw an elbow and got ejected from a Heat game. Or, did that go without saying? ... Two more Cuban baseball stars defected for a shot at MLB riches. Or, did that too go without saying? ... It was announced the intrasquad UM spring game in football would be April 16 at Lockhart Stadium. It'll be Mark Richt's first Canes win. And loss ... Mexico beat Senegal 2-0 in a soccer friendly that drew 15,588 to Marlins Park. Which sounds about right for a Marlins Park crowd ... Congrats to Canes guard Sheldon McClellan, one of 35 candidates for Naismith player of the year award ... Brett Favre headed an eight-man Pro Football Hall of Fame class, which, looking at it, was about three or four men too many ... PGA Tour caddies lost a lawsuit in which they sought compensation for having to wear bibs with advertising. Dear fellas: Your job consists of carrying a golf bag, telling your guy, "178 yards" and collecting up to 10 percent of his earnings for doing very little. Quiet, please! ... Daytona 500 opens the NASCAR schedule next Sunday. "Gentlemen, start your season!" ... Delray Beach Open runs all this week, a second-tier men's pro tennis tournament featuring guys you've barely heard of and hardly care about ... Barcelona entered weekend with a club-record 29-march unbeaten streak. All Barca, plus bite-a. (Sorry) ... MLS announced its best would play English power Arsenal in the league's summer all-star game. Good luck, MLS ... Rockets trying to trade Dwight Howard but he'll be a free agent. Rental, anyone? ... The fast-approaching PGA Tour stop at Doral March 3-6 is just a week or so ahead of the Florida presidential primary. Gee, I wonder if Donald Trump will be here? ... Miami Gun Show ends Sunday at Dade County Fairgrounds. Talk about the perfect Valentine's Day gift!

Poll result: Dolphins should look into Forte, although many disagree: We asked if the Dolphins should explore signing free agent-to-be running back Matt Forte, and it was 55.6 percent yes, 33.4% no and 11.0% undecided.

ZeroOMINOUS INDICATOR FOR MARLINS: Baseball America just came out with its 2016 Top 100 prospects list (click here for complete list), and here are the number of Marlins on it: Zero. Nada. Nil. Zilch. No promising crops growing on the farm. Ouch. That's baseball-unhealthy. Miami needs to remedy that dearth for its long-term success.

Bet66-1NO LOVE FOR DOLPHINS IN BETTING ODDS: Bovada rolls out new post-Super Bowl betting odds on who'll win next year's SB 51, and Patriots are on top at 15-2, followed by Steelers and champion Broncos both 9-1 and Panthers, Packers and Seahawks all 10-1. After the Pats in the AFC East are the Bills and Jets both at 50-1. The Dolphins? Tied for third from the bottom overall at 66-1, ahead of only the Titans and Browns.

"HOLD ME CLOSER, BERNIE SANDERS": That's the title of a new Bernie Sanders tribute parody song, to the tune of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Includes lyrics. Clever. Pretty funny. Will be interesting to see if Feel The Bern OKs this to play during his campaign:

   

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

Twitter @gregcote

February 13, 2016

Should Dolphins look into suddenly available Matt Forte? Poll. Vote now!; plus here's how bad Heat 3-point shooting is; also Dwight Howard, Panthers' record pace, ex-Canes at Combine, Ted Cruz's porn star, Kanye West's heavenly video game & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 13. ICYMI, click on Riley's Last Push for my column earlier this week on Pat Riley's drive to win another Heat championship. 2) Marlins pitchers and catchers report in six days to spring training in Jupiter. 3) In The Previous Blogpost: Heat players in Top 100 and how much they were ours, Dolphins two-round mock draft, Shaq verdict, Riley's imperative, The List (Marlins homers), chocolate bunny under siege & more. 4Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, InstagramVine and Periscope.

Pats' owner throws shade on Mannings: Patriots owner Robert Kraft in a radio interview this week, referring to Archie Manning: "He has two sons who have won two Super Bowls [each]. But with all due respect, we've got one son who's won four."

ForteMATT FORTE TO THE DOLPHINS MAY BE WORTH EXPLORING: That's if Lamar Miller leaves and if Forte is affordable. That is the gist of my newest column; click on The Forte Factor to read. Matt Forte, the career-long Chicago Bears running back, announced yesterday the team would not re-sign him, meaning he will be a free agent free to sign with any team come March 9. Adam Gase, the Dolphins' new head coach, knows Forte as well as anyone, having been Chicago's offensive coordinator. And Miami may have a need at the position if, as expected, pending free agent Miller is not re-signed. At the least, Forte's sudden availability is worth exploring if the price is right. The downside: He just turned 30. The upside: Just about everything else. Forte has been durable, starting 120 of a possible 128 games in his career. He has averaged 1,075 rushing yards and 61 catches per season, and would offer the dual-threat Miami has rarely had. Also, because of his age alone, it could be a buyer's market; I suspect he'd be affordable -- the only circumstance under which this would make sense. I wonder what Dolfans think. Should Miami explore signing Forte or avoid him? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

BoshQUANTIFYING HOW BAD HEAT'S 3-POINT SHOOTING REALLY IS: At the All-Star Game break Miami's .323 accuracy on 3-point shots ranked third from the bottom in the NBA, ahead of only Minnesota and the L.A. Lakers. The Heat's 6.1 3's per game ranks fifth from the bottom. But I find more telling how this season ranks in Heat franchise history. Miami set a franchis erecord for 3-point accuracy at .396 just three seasons ago. Now? Here is the club's all-time bottom five in terms of 3-point accuracy. Chris Bosh (pictured) doesn't get enough help, especially with Tyler Johnson out injured. Note that three of the bottom-five lows happened in the franchise's first three seasons, when 3's were much less a part of the game and Miami had the excuse of being an awful expansion team. Bottom-five seasons for team 3-point percentage in Heat history:

Pct.    Season        Made-Atts.    Leader

.293   1989-90      88-300          Jon Sunvold, 44

.302   1990-91      140-464        Glen Rice, 71

.316   2003-04      348-1,100     Eddie Jones, 177

.323   2015-16      322-998        Chris Bosh, 81

.326   1988-89      97-298          Jon Sunvold, 48

DwighthowardDWIGHT HOWARD TRADED TO HEAT? WHAT ARE YOU, DRUNK?: There is speculation to that end as the Feb. 18 NBA trade deadline bears in and the Houston Rockets shop around a possible deal for Dwight Howard, 30, the 6-11 center. Certainly Miami would be an interesting landing spot if the the Heat feels it will need to replace Hassan Whiteside. Here is the problem. Howard has indicated his intention to become a free agent July 1, which severely limits trade interest in him unless the acquiring team can agree to a long-term deal rather just rent him for half a season. That's the same reason there is little chance the Heat could trade Whiteside before the deadline. Another problem: Would the Heat want to make Howard its big-money signing and effectively withdraw from the Kevin Durant Sweepstakes. Pat Riley loves big, bold moves and likely is doing his due diligence on Howard's availability. But call it unlikely that we'll be seeing for real the photoshop presented here. If Riley does make a pre-deadline deal, it'll more likely be for a quick-fix to the 3-point crisis.

ReillysmithFIRE ON ICE: THE PANTHERS' RECORD PACE: Florida not only is leading its NHL division but is on pace for the best regular season in franchise history. The top five seasons based on points percentage and points per game, noting that fifth place, '95-96, was the Stanley Cup Finals year. Current figures are updated through Friday's night's home loss to St. Louis:

Season        Pts.Pct.    PPG    Leading goal scorer

2015-16      .636        1.27    Reilly Smith, 18 (pictured)

1999-00      .598        1.20    Pavel Bure, 58

2011-12      .573        1.15    Tomas Fleischmann, 27

2008-09      .567        1.13    David Booth, 31

1995-96      .561        1.12    Scott Mellanby, 32

FIVE EX-CANES INVITED TO NFL SCOUTING COMBINE: It's Feb. 26-29 in Indianapolis, and former Miami Hurricanes footballers Artie Burns, Deon Bush, Ufomba Kamalu, Raphael Kirby and Rashawn Scott will be among the more than 300 draft prospects invited. It's a rather weak crop for UM. The cornerback Burns probably is the highest-regarded prospect, generally pegged as a likely third-round pick who could sneak into the low second round.

AmylindsayOOPS, SAYS THE TED CRUZ CAMPAIGN: I love love love this story. Ted Cruz's Republican presidential campaign has scrambled to yank an ad released Thursday because it was reported an actress in the commercial formerly starred in soft-core porn. In the ad, the women refers to Marco Rubio as just a "pretty face." Well, that actress, Amy Lindsay, formerly appeared in such film titles as "Erotic Confessions," "Secrets Of a Chambermaid" and "Carnal Wishes." The controversial thespian is pictured at right. I'll say this in defense of the Cruz campaign. This does not make me like him less, because nothing could. I cannot confirm that Rubio criticized the ad ... and then repeated the criticism verbatim four more times.

KANYE WEST CREATES WORLD'S MOST DEPRESSING VIDEO GAME: Rap mogul and all-roound modest guy Kanye West has developed a video game called Only One, which centers around his mother (who passed away in 2007) and her path to heaven. He previewed a trailer Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, and we present it below. And, yes, it is every bit as strange as you might imagine:

 

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

Twitter @gregcote