[Note: Separate Heat-Mavericks/NBA Finals post will debut in blog beginning Tuesday. Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. Live music. Open bar. No cover].
THE NFL LOCKOUT POLL: I have resisted blogging much about the NFL lockout because frankly the topic bores me and I always figured it would end well before now. But with the ponderous thing in its 78th day, and no end in sight, it is getting serious. The league is close to the point where early exhibition games would be canceled. So -- before we get back to the more joyous occasion of the Heat in the upcoming NBA Finals -- let's take a minute for a temperature read on how fans feel about the lockout and which side y'all blame. I tend to blame both sides equally but, made to get off the fence, probably lean blaming owners more. You? Vote now and say why you think the way you do.
HEAT FAVORED OVER MAVERICKS AS EXPECTED: Bodog has set Miami as the NBA Finals betting favorite at minus-180 to Dallas' plus-160. It lists the most likely results as Heat winning 4-3 in games at 11-4, and Heat winning 4-2 at 13-4. Bodog had Miami its preseason favorite at 17/10 and Dallas as seventh favorite at 20-1. In between were Lakers, Celtics, Magic, Thunder and Bulls. Favorites for Finals MVP are LeBron James 5-4, Dirk Nowitzki 2-1, Dwyane Wade 7-2 and Chris Bosh 11-2. Conclusion: Most people in general will be rooting for Dallas -- or should I say against LeBron and Miami. But most people's money apparently will be rooting for Miami.
(EX) PANTHERS IN STANLEY CUP FINALS!: It's Vancouver vs. Boston, with the Canucks led by goalkeeper Roberto Luongo and the Bruins in the Finals on a dramatic late goal last night by Nathan Horton. If only the Panthers were as good as the ex-Panthers.
RECOMMENDED BOOK: Just finished Tina Fey's Bossypants, a fun, quick read for anybody who thinks she's great, which I do. Self-deprecation is easy art in her hands. Representative humor, from the back jacket: "Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird aroud her."
WAVE-RUNNER SHOOTING: Young man trying to steal wave-runner shot dead by resident of victimized home. Thief turns out to have been deaf. Justifiable shooting or murder? Read news story here. A tragedy all around but, to me, the question and answer both must start with the truism that the deceased put himself in that situation by trying to steal from someone else. I won't presume to pontificate in advance of more information or any charges but I will say this: My benefit of doubt in a situation like this is rarely if ever with the criminal who dealt the hand in his own demise.
SATURDAY ROUNDUP: A middle-aged, dark-haired women I'll call the Whole Foods Thief stood in front of me in line today around 12:30 at the Plantation store, and accidentally-on-purpose left two small items in her cart. I know it because she carefully placed her bagged groceries over the items she got for free. I said nothing. Now I wish I had. Next time, I would ..... Damian Marley, son of Bob and half-brother of ex-Hurricanes linebacker Rohan, has joined a supergroup fronted by Boss Stone Mick Jagger and Dave (Eurythmics) Stewart (pictured). Group calling itself Super Heavy. Reggae-influenced fusion. Looking forward to hearing it ..... Luther "Luke" Campbell finished a fairly solid fourth of 11 in the the Miami-Dade mayoral election. I'm not sure if that speaks well of Campbell or ill of the state of voter frustration with local politics.
Click back. Be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost throughout the weekend...
[Notes: Happy 70th birthday to a great lifelong hero, Bob Dylan. Remember, the pump don't work 'cause the vandal stole the handle. Also, celebrate the world not ending by joining us at Twitter.com/gregcote].
NBA Finals schedule: G1--Tuesday May 31 @ Miami; G2--Thursday June 2 @ Miami; G3--Sunday June 5 @ Dallas; G4--Tuesday June 7 @ Dallas; G5--Thursday June 9 @ Dallas; G6--Sunday June 12 @ Miami; G7--Tuesday June 14 @ Miami.
G5: HEAT 83, CHICAGO 80: LEBRON, D-WADE SPARK LATE RALLY, LIFT MIAMI INTO NBA FINALS!(Miami wins series, 4-1): Wow. Stunning. Seriously. Chicago led by as many as 13. Led by 8 approaching two minutes left. Then magic happened. Then LeBron James happened, with eight late points to take over the game. Awesome. What I wrote in my column yesterday (see below), you can underline that. Put it in bold. Heat Game 5 Player of the Game: King James. LeBron finished with 28 points, Dwayne Wade came on strong late for 21 and Chris Bosh had a steady 20. The Big 3 scored Miami's last 33 points including all 26 in the fourth quarter. LBJ (12 points) and Wade (10) took over the 4Q. Last night, that was enough. Plenty, in fact. Original post: Dallas did its job last night, winning the West. Now Miami tries to do the same and create a reprise of the 2006 NBA Finals. Big "road rally" outside the arena tonight, by the way, featuring a live performance by hip-hopper Ludacris. Bulls are desperate enough to make it tough on Heat tonight and Chicago should be judged a slight favorite, but Miami rightly is treating this like a must-win. Rightly because pressure would shift back onto Miami in a Game 6, pressure to avoid a Game 7 back in CHI. Click on King James for today's column by me on how LeBron James' dominance of Derrick Rose has defined this series, and how NBA MVP voters are getting to see their mistake played out. Thanks (again) for making it the most-read piece on all of MiamiHerald.com.
G4: HEAT 101, BULLS 93 (OT): LEBRON'S 35 HAS CHICAGO ON EDGE OF ELIMINATION(Miami leads series 3-1; Game 5 Thursday at Chicago): I start by mentioning that Mike Miller popped up like a groundhog last night with 12 important, sparky points, plus nine rebounds. And that Dwyane Wade was mostly terrible, for him, but not when it counted, with six points in overtime. But the Heat Game 4 Player of the Game clearly was LeBron James with 35 points and some big ones late. LeBron is pictured left on the cover of this week's new SI. Click on Deal With It, America for my column off the game on the Heat proving to be every bit as good as the outside world feared, and as good as South Floridians hoped. It is the most-read item on MiamiHerald.com today; thank you. Now, with Miami up 3-1, this series is basically over. No way Bulls can win the next three straight. If so I'll hitchhike nude to Chicago. Please don't hold me to that. Original post: Our love-or-hate Charles Barkley poll is still accepting your votes just below in this blogpost. Game 4 is all but must-win territory for Chicago but not a whole lot less for Miami, considering a 2-2 series would send it back to CHI with the home-court edge regained by the Bulls. Bottom line: Tonight's winner gets to feel like it has the lead and the inside rail. Click on Seven Heaven for today's column by me in praise of the building drama of an NBA seven-game series. Or this one, at least.
MIAMI'S LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHARLES BARKLEY. VOTE NOW!: TNT's Charles Barkley was heckled by Heat fans last night during the network's postgame shoot outside the arena. Click here for a short YouTube video that shows fans taunting him during a commercial break by chanting, "No rings!" Also, during a live shot, a white T-shirt came flying at Barkley's head. A witness to the boisterous scene emailed me a photo (right) that shows Barkley favoring Heat fans with a brief middle-finger salute. Click here for the video of Barkley's birdie in response to fans chanting, "Chuck you suck!" TNT will move Tuesday night's postgame show indoors. Wise move! But is the negativity toward Barkley representative of Heat fans in general? I want to know. Chuck's in town and reading this and he wants to know, too. So here's a poll. Tell him.
G3: HEAT 96, CHICAGO 85: CHRIS IS BOSHTASTIC AS MIAMI STAYS UNBEATEN AT HOME IN '11 PLAYOFFS:(Miami leads series 2-1; Game 4 here Tuesday night): Carlos Boozer had dismissed Chris Bosh before this series, referring to the Heat as "the Big 2." Umm, wonder if the Boozehound might want to rethink that? Bosh busted up the Bulls for 34 points last night. Heat Game 3 Player of the Game: What do you think, Boozer? Yeah I agree. Bosh. Click on Bosh Brings The Noise for my column off the game. It's on the least of the Big 3 coming up biggest, and also on maligned Heat fans helping lift this team to a 7-0 home record in this postseason. By the way, through 13 playoff games here is our Heat Player of the Game count: 5--LeBron; 3--Bosh; 3--Wade; 1each--Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem. (Adds up to 14 because of one tie). Original post: oosebump alert! Tonight's emotional moment will happen as Udonis Haslem first rises off the bench and reports to the scorer's table to make his first home appearance since November. Miami is 6-0 at home in these playoffs and endeavoring to be only the second team ever (after the 1995-96 Chicago Jordanaires) to be perfect at home en route to an NBA title. It will take wins tonight and again Tuesday here to put the Heat in charge. A win tonight but then a loss Tuesday would return home-court advantage to the Bulls. Haslem and Mike Miller are finally close enough to healthy to augment the Big 3 and give Miami the team it imagined in putting all this together last summer. That and an emotional home building should be enough tonight.
G2: HEAT 85, CHICAGO 75: BIG 2, BIG D and BIG UDONIS SPARK BIG WIN(Series tied 1-1; Game 3 Sunday in Miami): LeBron James led the way with 29 points including big late baskets that unlocked a 73-73 game. Dwyane Wade added 24 as both stars rebounded from their subpar combined 33 points in the Game 1 loss. But two things stood out above the Big 2 in this game for me. 1) Miami's defense was ferocious. The Bulls managed 29 points the entire second half. 2) Udonis Haslem. He played big, meaningful minutes and scored 13 points and Miami would not have won without him. He looked like the missing link. Heat Game 2 Player of the Game: Close call over LeBron, but I give it to Haslem (left). Now the Heat wrest the edge in this series, coming back 1-1 for two straight at home. Moderation is still advised, though. Miami was hardly out of it down one game, and the Heat hardly are in control now that it's even. Long series. Just getting started, really. Original post: James is said to be fighting a cold. Think I'd rather have him with a cold than be cold as he was with his 5-for-15 shooting in the Game 1 loss. A better Game 2 from James and Dwyane Wade after their combined 33 points the other night is pretty much a given. It is most everything else that is a question to be answered. Will Chris Bosh come up big again or retreat into the familiar shell? Can Miami find a way to play the board game and get its share of offensive rebounds? Will Udonis Haslem play significant minutes? Who after the Big 3 will step up? I think this series, and tonight in particular, will be important for coach Erik Spoelstra as he maneuvers his pieces to offset Chicago's advantages including depth. An NBA playoff series is about adjustments, and Miami's tonight will be a reflection of Spoelstra. I know that the Heat must have much, much better ball movement than was reflected in Game 1's meager 11 total assists. I also think a bigger lineup, with doses of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, is the way to go for MIA in this series. Updated computerized NBA-title likelihood by Teamrankings.com entering Game 2 puts Chicago at 41.6 percent, Dallas 29.5, Miami 20.4 and Oklahoma City 8.5. Miami must win a road game in this series to keep championship hopes alive. Might as well be tonight, right? Bonus Fact just for you: LeBron ranks 10th overall and D-Wade 57th on Forbes' new 2011 "Celebrity 100" list. No. 1 is Lady Gaga. I wonder if she's any good at rebounding?
G1: CHICAGO 103, HEAT 82: MIAMI WASTES 30-POINT GAME BY BOSH(Chicago leads series 1-0): Chris Bosh was great with 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting. And thus concludes the highlight portion of your Eastern Conference finals opener, Miami. Game 1 Player of Game for Heat: Bosh. Not much competition, though. Chicago's defense budgeted Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to combined 33 points on 12-for-32 shooting and Bulls dominated at home almost everywhere else you looked. CHI led in 3-point field goals, 10-3; in rebounds, 45-33; in assists, 23-11; and in fewer turnovers, 16-9. With Game 2 also in Chicago this is first time this entire playoffs that Miami has been under pressure. Might Heat still win series? Absolutely. But it looks like Erik Spoelstra is going to have to earn his coaching stripes by figuring a way around this suffocating defense and rebound machine. Original post: For the record I like Miami in 7 games. I think having the two best players in this series in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- and maybe three of the best four if one lends benefit of doubt to Chris Bosh -- will overcome Chicago's advantages in Derrick Rose, a deeper bench and the home court. Barely. I also think Miami's defense is one of the few as good as Chicago's, an edge for the Heat simply because Bulls can't match the offensive punch. Rebounding will be a key, because CHI has some real glass cleaners. What a perfect series this would be to have a full-strength Udonis Haslem! Also think this is a huge series for a third player to step up big for Miami each game. Could be Bosh, James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony. Heck maybe we'll even get a Mike Bibby or Mike Miller sighting. The bench can't disappear. Neither can Bosh. Subplots abound, including D-Wade's Chicago homecoming and the fact the Bulls went after LeBron, Wade and Bosh in free agency last summer and struck out while Miami hit the J-pot. I think Bulls will be playing with a chip. They paid attention when Bosh said he thought the Celtics would be Miami's toughest playoff opponent. This week Carlos Boozer was asked about facing MIA's Big 3 and replied, "They have two great players." Click on Roles Reversed for my Miami Herald preview-section column on this series. I discuss the theory that the Heat spent too much emotional capital in beating the nemesis Celtics, and that roles are reversed now because Miami is to Chicago what Boston was to Miami: the opponent you've waited for all season, the beast of the East you must get past.
Bodog.com pre-series playoff betting odds:To win NBA title, entering Game 1: Miami 5-4, Dallas 5-2, Chicago 3-1, Oklahoma City 6-1, Memphis 22-1. Scoring averages/Heat-Bulls: Derrick Rose 26.5, LeBron James 25.5, Dwyane Wade 25, Luol Deng 16, Chris Bosh 15.5, Carlos Boozer 14, Joakim Noah 10.
THE LIST: HEAT-BULLS PLAYOFF HISTORY: Note I put little stock in the history-repeating-itself theory and think what's below means nada for what's about to happen. This is for informational purposes only:
Year Result Mia/Chi leading scorers
1992 Bulls, 3-0 Rony Seikaly/Michael Jordan
1996 Bulls, 3-0 Alonzo Mourning/Michael Jordan
1997 Bulls, 4-1 Tim Hardaway/Michael Jordan
2006 Heat, 4-2 Dwyane Wade/Andres Nocioni
2007 Bulls, 4-0 Dwyane Wade/Luol Deng
2011 Let's all find out, shall we?
Note: 1997 and 2011 are Eastern Conference finals. All others are first-round series.
[R.I.P. Randy "Macho Man" Savage, pictured in latter days. Note: Main Heat-Bulls playoff post may be found in the blog directly below this latest post. Also, join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. No contracts, no meetings, open bar].
HEAT-BULLS GAME 3 IN GRAVE JEOPARDY AS JUDGMENT DAY THREATENS OBLITERATION OF ENTIRE WORLD INCLUDING NBA PLAYOFFS!: It has come to my attention that life as we know it would cease to exist on Saturday. I'm surprised this has not gotten more attention. We're all just so busy! I saw the billboard pictured along the Turnpike the other day and would have thought the result would have been mass panic, or at least a decent vehicular pileup. Evidently May 21, 2011 -- that's today -- is the day of rapture, Judgment Day, when the world will end in joy for believers swept into Heaven, and in despair for heathens. The world ending Saturday naturally means, of course, there will be no Heat-Bulls Game 3 here Sunday. Ticket holders may seek a full refund ... in hell! The apocalypse also means Miami-Dade has wasted yet more taxpayer money by staging a Tuesday mayoral election that will never come. Further, it means the NFL lockout will never end and the Dolphins' Super Bowl drought will stretch into perpetuity. On a brighter note, Chad Henne will never throw another interception! What will you miss most with Saturday's End of Days? No I mean other than this blog. The May 21 Judgment Day is the brainchild of Family Radio network founder Harold Camping, 89 (pictured). (Why am I imagining God looking at Camping and shaking His head?) Camping previously predicted Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994, and might have been right, had the request ever made it through Jesus' protective phalanx of personal assistants. Cannot confirm, but I hear Camping has a $100 bet on the Heat covering Sunday. You know, just in case. [Update: The world evidently did not end Saturday as scheduled. So Sunday's Heat-Bulls Game 3 is on pending a delayed Rapture].
HONK IF YOU'VE BEEN IMMORTALIZED WITH A STATUE: Former Lakers great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he is underappreciated and feels slighted because the team has not erected a statue in his honor outside the Staples Center. Let me ask you something: How big an ego do you have to have to be miffed because your former employer has failed to immortalize you in bronze? The statue trend in sports has gotten absurd. Remember when statues were reserved for Greek gods sculpted in marble and historical figures of great importance in the nation's capital? Now Tim Tebow has a couple of nice years and he's in bronze outside Florida Field. How many accolades do you athletes need, anyway? You are lavishly paid and heroically adored. You have championship parades and keys to the city. You have halls of fame and rings of honor. Now you need a statue, too? Really, athletes? I think the only athlete who deserves a statue is the first one to humbly state that's too much. People who make statues for a living must be behind this trend. I see it spreading beyond sports to other walks of life. I see nothing stopping this trend with the possible exception of Saturday's Armageddon. I believe The Miami Herald should erect a statue of me outside 1 Herald Plaza to give the wandering homeless a gathering point. The salesman who moves the most cars should have a statue outside the dealership. Subjects of statues need not stand the test of time, either. Why wait? The other day I drove past a boy expertly riding a skateboard. In his honor I commissioned the statue you see pictured.
AN ODE TO UDONIS: In today's column I write with unabashed sentiment in praise of the Heat's Udonis Haslem, and what his Wednesday night playoff performance meant to him, not just to his team and to fans. Click on Heart of the Heat to read it. Haslem will make his home playoff debut Sunday night in Game 3. I think the moment he rises from the bench to enter the game for the first time will be a very, very special moment in that arena. [Update: Just got a nice email from Udonis' old coach, Frank Martin, now of Kansas State, saying thanks for the column and praising Haslem].
ON "IN LOVING MEMORY OF..." CAR DECALS: You know the kind I mean? If not an example is pictured. They are proliferating. What do we think? I have mixed feelings. More power to the vehicle owner who believes this expression is either an outlet for his sorrow or a tribute to his departed friend or relative. I suppose there are no rules on grief. Then again (no disrespect meant) isn't a loved one's death a bit of a personal matter to be casually sharing with the stranger behind you at the red light? Almost a too-much-information thing. It's like having a bumper sticker on your car that reads, 'My Daughter Suffers Clinical Depression'. Of course I could be wrong.
LOCAL RADIO RATINGS: Best battle among the four local sports-talk stations is 6-10 a.m. between WQAM's Joe Rose and 790 The Ticket's Jorge Sedano. Rose won the latest ratings book out this week with 3.5/3.6 by age group to Sedano's 3.0/3.0. The two other stations were blips, with Mike & Mike on 940 registering 0.3/0.8 and Armando & The Amigo on 640 showing 0.0/0.3. Look at me I'm like Barry Jackson here with ratings talk! I'm not sure how you get a 0.0, by the way. I think it means your wife used to listen, but then she switched to Sedano.
THE MIND OF MENDENHALL: Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall previously caused ire by Tweeting in apparent sympathy of Osama bin Laden, blasting those who celebrated his death. Mendenhall's latest Tweet: "Happy Birthday El Hajj Malik El Shabazz #Respect #Salute." That's Malcolm X, of course. Rashard is gradually working his way back into the good graces of the Terrible Towel crowd. I suppose his next Tweet will be to suggest that foreign cars are best and that the American labor movement would be better off without unions.
Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost later today and into Saturday...
[Thanks to all who joined our Q&A Chat today. Great response. Do it every Wednesday, 1-2 p.m. Click HERE to join us live, read transcripts or post questions/comments/pithyisms any time. Also join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].
LET'S PLAY DOLPHINS QUARTERBACK ROULETTE!: Hey the Heat have an off-day so what the heck. When the infernal NFL lockout finally ends your Dolphins will pursue a veteran quarterback by trade or free agency to compete with Chad Henne. Jeff Ireland needs your help! OK he might not but give it to him anyway. Take a dip in our poll and tell Jeff which of these perhaps-available QBs you'd most like to see Miami pursue, assuming each might be had for a reasonable price. Then drop a comment saying why.
[Just realized I maybe should have included Brady Quinn in my poll. Oh well. Guessing his Dolfan constituency is rather limited, anyway].
WHAT'S WRONG WITH HANLEY?: It isn't panic time. Let's make that point first. Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez has built enough trust capital as a hitter to make his .204 average entering late May something you assume he'll bust out of in a big way. But anybody who watched him go 0-for-6 last night saw a guy really struggling. The low: When the Mets intentionally walked Chris Coghlan to get to Hanley. Amazing. Mike Stanton is coming around. Hanley will do the same, eventually.
IN LEBRON AND D-WADE WE TRUST: Click on Bounce Back for today's column by me on the Heat in the wake of Game 1's blowout loss in Chicago. I write that the closest thing to a guarantee in all of sports is that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will bounce back big from their subpar combined 33 points. Question is: Will that be enough? James and Wade are the least of Miami's problems in this series. It is all the other stuff -- including Chicago's rebounding edge and how Miami's rotation must somehow offset the Bulls' superior depth -- that is the challenge for coach Erik Spoelstra. I try to eschew "defining moment" talk but this series could be that for Spoelstra as he maneuvers to counter Chicago's advantages. This could be the series that proves Spoelstra is big enough to be the caretaker of this would-be dynasty, or that he isn't.
WEDNESDAY ROUNDUP: Did you see that 48-point show by Dirk Nowitzki for Mavs last night? He now has my all-time-greatest-Dirk vote over actor Dirk Bogarde and Boogie Nights porn star Dirk Diggler. ..... The new uniforms for U.S. women's national soccer team (pictured) remind me of a recurring dream I used to have in which a hot nurse enters my hospital room to address my complaint about an aching groin. Relax I said it was only a dream! ..... The Jets are now offering for sale a Rex Ryan bobblehead doll (pictured). The doll is suitable for collecting and also for smashing with a baseball bat or running over with an SUV. ..... Cavaliers win NBA lottery, secure overall No. 1 draft pick. I'm happy for Cleveland. For Dan Gilbert, not so much. Latest ESPN.com mock draft projects Cavs will select Duke point-guard Kyrie Irving. Other notables: FSU forward Chris Singleton going 12th and BYU's Jimmer Fredette 13th. Heat have no 1R pick. ..... Congrats to former Hurricane Russell Maryland for his induction into College Football Hall of Fame. Was a big, gentle-bear type but a ferocious load at DT. Good guy, too. ..... Congrats as well to Phoenix Suns president Rick Welts for coming out publicly as gay. Every such pronouncement chips away at prejudice. Still waiting on a brave active player, though. ..... For what it's worth, Baseball America projects Marlins' first-round pick (14th overall) in upcoming MLB draft will be UConn center fielder George Springer.
ESPN TELL-ALL BOOK BREAKS OLD GROUND: That's the impression from reading this first excerpt in GQ of the upcoming behind-the-scenes book about ESPN called "Those Guys Have All the Fun." The excerpt focuses on how early anchor Keith Olbermann was both genius-y (to the degree that brilliance and talking about sports isn't an oxymoron) and, well, an egotistical a--hole. I was under the impression both those sides of Keith (pictured mustachioed with Dan Patrick) were pretty well known. I suppose the next excerpt will be an exclusive on how Chris Berman during commercial breaks is profane and sweats a lot?
BULLETIN: HOW "TWO AND A HALF MEN" WILL INTRODUCE KUTCHER: This isn't official, but I am breaking the news on my supposition of how CBS will introduce Ashton Kutcher as Charlie Sheen's replacement on its popular sitcom. You know by now that Sheen partied himself into an abyss, losing (not Winning) his job, and that Kutcher will take his place, but not as the same character. Well here's my exclusive: Kutcher will appear as Sheen-character Charlie Harper's long-lost and heretofore unknown son. You read right. Think about it. The ages work, mid-40s to mid-20s. And the resemblance is there. Note the jawlines. Remember this when it turns out I'm right.
WELCOME, DEAD NEIGHBOR!: It has recently come to my attention that actor Leslie Nielsen has moved into the same Fort Lauderdale cemetery as my mother-in-law and, that, in fact, the late Airplane! and Naked Gun cult-star lies in repose in remarkable proximity. This makes me happy, and I don't know why.
Click back. Be adding more stuff to this new post later today and into Wednesday...
THE LIST: BEST ALL-ROUND HEAT SEASONS: Top 10 individual Heat seasons based on combined averages for points, rebounds and assists:
Player Season Total
1. Dwyane Wade 2008-09 42.7
2. LeBron James 2010-11 41.2
3. Dwyane Wade 2005-06 39.6
3. Dwyane Wade 2006-07 39.6
5. Dwyane Wade 2009-10 37.9
6. Dwyane Wade 2010-11 36.5
7. Dwyane Wade 2004-05 36.1
8. Shaquille O'Neal 2004-05 36.0
9. Alonzo Mourning 1995-96 35.9
10. Dwyane Wade 2007-08 35.7
Total 30-plus seasons: 7--Wade; 4--Mourning; 3--Tim Hardaway; 2--O'Neal; 1--Rony Seikaly, Lamar Odom and James.
[Note: Our separate Heat-Bulls Game 1 playoff post will publish right here in the blog at 4 p.m. today. Twitter.com/gregcote].
MIAMI VS. CHICAGO: JASON WHITLOCK WEIGHS IN AGAINST HEAT: Many of you know Whitlock (left) is a writer at FOXSports.com. He writes in this column that the Heat pretty much have no chance against the Chicago Bulls in the next round -- which begins Sunday in CHI after the Bulls steamrolled Atlanta last night. Jason's website description, eschewing humility, humbly notes he writes things "other writers can't imagine or can't muster the courage to address." I might add that apparently he occasionally also writes things that "...other writers simply think is too silly to put in print." To me CHI-MIA is even, with Miami having the two best players in the series (sorry, Derrick Rose), and Chicago countering with better depth/bench and the home-court edge. I think Chicago's defense and rebounding are formidable, but also wonder if the Bulls have the offense, beyond Derrick Rose, to match up. They'll need the reawakened Carlos Boozer we saw most of last night. Charles Barkley also said he thinks Chicago will win. I see Miami as a slight favorite. I can respect seeing it too close to call. But to dismiss Miami's chances is just silly. Therefore I hereby decree that Whitlock, for disrespecting the Heat, will from this point forward be haunted by the ghost of Pat Riley's early-'70s pornstache. Take a dip in our poll and give us a reading on how confident you are in the Heat advancing past the top-seeded Bulls. As always, I'm counting on you to try to set the fan hat aside for a second and be totally honest.
[Poll analysis: Very interesting poll trends. The number of votes for "less than 50 percent" are trending up to a degree I checked into where most votes are coming from and, sure enough, after Florida, the second-most by far are coming from Illinois. Obviously our poll has been linked to Bulls fans in Chicago. Hey they call it the World Wide Web. Democracy! Up to Heat fans to stave off the attack from outside].
OUR SECOND-GREATEST EDWIN?: Sorry gotta go with Miami Herald sports legend Edwin Pope first by an uncatchable furlong, but Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is on the rail, charging. Catch this piece on ESPN.com for some rightful praise of the job Rodriguez is doing.
THRILLER ON ICE: Not a huge hockey fan I'll admit but you had to be a little mesmerized by the Detroit-San Jose Game 7 last night, won by the Sharks 3-2. I wanted the Red Wings, who'd toughed it back from three games down. Great stage for the NHL.
I RAN A 5K RACE THE OTHER DAY: The preceding headline alone should be good for a chortle from those who know me or have seen first-hand my girth. I am not quite Whitlockesque but neither am I svelte. I stay in some semblance of shape with tennis, biking and so forth but am not a gym guy and not, per se, a runner. The race was the Run For the Roses 5K (3.1 miles) at TY Park in Hollywood, which I did on a lark, and my time was around 36 minutes. That was mostly running interspersed with interims of medicinal walking. It's a really bad time. The good news? I'd have finished first in my age group had I been a woman over 80.
DAD LIKES THE BEASTIE BOYS: One of the small pleasures of my being a parent is that I unintentionally mortify my 19-year-old son by enjoying rap music, not all or most, but some. It isn't my preferred genre (classic rock, country), but I like Eminem, Dre, Snoop Dogg and others. My most recent CD purchase: Beastie Boys' Hott Sauce Committee Part Two. Have followed those guys (pictured) since the early '80s. Click on Make Some Noise for their new song/video (rap kicks in at 1:15) and picture me bappin (yes, bappin, not boppin) along in my car if you can stand the unsettling incongruity of that image.
SERENA, SERENA, SERENA...: Palm Beach's Serena Williams continues to make news for everything but tennis (which she hasn't played since last summer due to injuries). The latest: She tweeted a photo of herself (far right) in silhouette, wearing what appears to be only bra and panties. The photo is rather benign, sort of artsy, even. The problem: It invites the suggestion we are peeping through her bedroom window. The problem with that: This is a woman who has had a problem with a crazed fan recently arrested for stalking. Oops. Hence the photo immediately leaving her Twitter site.
BIKINI FLASH MOB!: Click here. It's OK, Ma. G-rated because it's a PacSun stunt. The flash mob phenomenon strikes me as something without legs. Ten years from now the term will be archaic.
AND IN OTHER NEWS...: Quietly, the Miami Heat has changed its name to Miami Heats.
Click back. Be adding more stuff to this latest post on Friday...
[R.I.P. to a musical hero of mine, Bob Marley, on the 30th anniversary of his death in Miami. Twitter.com/gregcote].
HEAT'S NEXT-ROUND SCHEDULEIF BULLS WIN TONIGHT: G1--Sunday @ CHI 8 pm; G2--Wednesday @ CHI 8:30; G3--Sunday May 22 @ MIA 8:30; G4--Tuesday May 24 @ MIA 8:30. And if needed: G5--Thursday May 26 @ CHI 8:30; G6--Saturday May 28 @ MIA 8:30; G7--Monday May 30 @ CHI 8:30. All games TNT. IF BULLS LOSE TONIGHT and Heat face Chicago or Atlanta, games would be Wednesday, Friday, May 22, May 24 and if needed May 26, 28 and 30. All would be 8:30 p.m. on TNT. Vs. Hawks, MIA would have home-court edge and play games 1-2-5-7 here.
G5: HEAT 97, CELTICS 87:(Miami wins series 4-1): Dwayne Wade 34 points and LeBron James 33. Wade keeping Miami in it early and LeBron closing it late. Guess that about says it, eh? This is why they joined together. Click on This Is Why for my column off the game, running on page 1A in the pulp edition. Miami ending on a 16-0 run, led by LeBron with the final 10. What was that you were saying about James not being a good closer? There is a phrase for the last few minutes of that game. The phrase is, "Cleveland's Worst Nightmare." (Aside to Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Voodoo doll evidently not working. Sue manufacturer). Actually LeBron said afterward, "I apologize for the way it happened," the closest he has come to telling Cleveland he's sorry. Question how he left the Cavs but not why. Not after Wednesday. The old Celtics were literally wearing down in the closing minutes just as James was going full-bore. It was a pretty remarkable thing to see, wasn't it? Game 5 Player of the Game: The Big 2 got to share it, the way they bookended that game. By the way, click here for brief vid of a LeBron postgame hug with Boston's Delonte West, which I think should end all that viral speculation about how Delonte supposedly slept with LBJ's mom. Next: Da Bulls, presumably. Look for a separate blogpost on that series the day it begins. Original post: Did Miami's Game 4 OT win in Boston cripple the Celtics? Or do the wheezing Old Green have some fight left? I tend to think the former and see Miami closing it out at home tonight. Celts have announced Shaquille O'Neal won't play. (Sorry, Shaq, but you no longer matter). I liked LeBron James' attitude after this morning's shootaround. He said, "We're home. They'll have to match our energy." Speaking of LeBron, I was a guest on ESPN's Outside the Lines this afternoon discussing how LeBron's image has evolved and largely rehabilitated since last year's playoffs and "The Decision." Everybody on the panel agreed except Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, who, like his city, continues playing the dog that can't let go the bitter, poisonous bone.
G4: HEAT 98, CELTICS 90 (OT):(Miami leads series 3-1). Eighty-three points from the Big 3. Any questions? LeBron, 35. D-Wade, 28. Bosh, up from the nap with 20. Big. Huge! Miami now in control and able to close it out at home Wednesday night. Udonis Haslem returned to action, early but briefly. He wasn't needed -- not when Tres Magnifico score 83. Player of the game: LeBron James. They call him The King. He reminded us why. Original post: Saw in my newspaper Monday how the Heat is (statistically) a poor-shooting team in the closing, clutch seconds of tight games. (Are we still talking about that?) Hey, after Saturday's debacle of a 16-point loss in Boston, just give me a close game, please, and I'll take my chances on the last shot. Chris Bosh (near left) is beginning to remind me a little of Ricky Williams (far left) in terms of the sensitivity and internal torture. Bosh emits the vibe of a guy who can be intimidated, a guy whose mental game is fragile. Man-up, man! A key player questioning himself after he passes up his first shot, admitting nerves and then withering into a figurative fetal position isn't exactly the playoff-tough mindset the Heat needs from Bosh right now. Dear Chris: Put your emotional side on the shelf, pop an ornery pill at around 6:30 this evening and join (almost literally) the fight. Juicy sidelight tonight: The notion of Boston "retribution" for D-Wade's role in Rajon Rondo's injury. I thought Wade did nothing wrong. ("Are they going to beat me up? For what?" said Wade). I still like Miami in this series but Game 4 is pivotal. Heat wins tonight and I think it ends in five games. Celtics win and I'd bet on seven. If I were a Heat fan I wouldn't be nervous but I'd recognize that for the first time in this playoff run anxiety is close enough to almost feel. It's OK if fans feel nerves and anxiety. Not good when Bosh does. [Quick aside: You know TMZ.com reported Bosh got married but he denied it? Well, on her Twiiter site, his maybe-wife is now referring to herself as "Williams-Bosh." Check it here].
G3: CELTICS 97, HEAT 81:(Miami leads series 2-1): Shh. Quiet, please. We might wake Chris Bosh! Not pinning it on one guy, but Bosh (6 points) disappeared Sunday night night in Boston. LeBron James (15) wasn't much better. Dwyane Wade had an ordinary 23. Heat Game 3 Player of the Game: Joel Anthony with 12 points and 11 rebounds. That's how bad it was. Boston gets 55 combined from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and wins with a 1-armed Rajon Rondo. And, no, that was not a dirty play by Wade on Rondo's injury. Shaq a negligible 2 points in 8 minutes. Still like Miami in this series, but, for the first time in the Heat's playoff run, things have gotten interesting and there is a tension.Original post: Shaquille O'Neal, 39, sits bolt upright in his career deathbed tonight and tries to help bring the Celtics back to life. I make fun of slow, plodding Shaq but also admit Boston has been pretty clearly better with him than without him this season. How much he plays off the bench or how well is to be determined, but his return coupled with the home court and down-2 desperation makes this the game the Celtics should win, if any. Key figures to be the first quarter, because The Evil Leprechaun will come out sky high and Miami could be down big early if that energy isn't matched. You know that'll be the pregame Gospel of Spo preached to players.
G2: HEAT 102, CELTICS 91:(Miami leads 2-0): Eighty points from the Big 3 last night -- led by LeBron James' 35 -- and I am inclined to change my view. I've always thought it would take a fourth guy stepping up, as James Jones did in Game 1. But the Heat is proving it can beat anybody, anywhere, any time, when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are standing up at the same time and that is coupled with great defense. Tonight the bench totaled a mere 12 points, with zero from Jones. And that mattered how? Heat Game 2 Player of the Game: James. His second half is what Miami fans dreamed of that July night when he announced his "Decision." A 2-0 series lead is both huge and nothing to be taken for granted. Recall that Dallas led Miami 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals. Miami must win one of the next two in Boston, starting Saturday. Original post: Any doubt this is the NBA's marquee playoff series? Game 1 drew the highest non-Finals rating for a playoff game since 2004, and in Miami it was the best since 2006. I love a 7-game format because every result reshapes the context of how we see the series. Heat wins tonight for a 2-0 lead and Miami is large and in charge heading up to Boston. But Celtics win to tie it 1-1 and it's uh-oh. Then home-court advantage is largely relinquished and momentum swings to the Evil Leprechaun. That's why every game in a 7-game series is the biggest one ... until the next one. I'll be interested to see tonight how Celtics coach Doc Rivers changes strategy, if at all, perhaps shifting the defensive focus away from LeBron James and onto Dwyane Wade. Clearly Miami needs a bigger game offensively from Chris Bosh. Click on Reality In A Surreal Series for today's column by me, in which the Heat and Celtics talk about Osama bin Laden's death lending perspective. By the way. Shaquille O'Neal might return from injury tonight for Boston. Would get mostly boos, a smattering of cheers. Pictured, left, apropos of nothing, Shaq lifting his girlfriend with his feet.
G1: HEAT 99, CELTICS 90: Bad blood boiling. Flying elbows. Hard screens. Flagrant fouls. Double- technicals. Paul Pierce ejected. And we have only just begun. Wow. Game 1 Player of the Game: Dwyane Wade, 38 points. Honorable mention to James Jones with 23 on a rain of 3's but it has to be D-Wade. Click on Let The Delicious Mayhem Begin! for my column (mostly on Wade) off the game, which is on page 1A in the pulp edition and which you have made the most-tread thing on MiamiHerald.com. (Thank you). Original post: As a sports columnist the majority of my assignments feel like a have-to-do-it job but some feel like a want-to-do-it joy and today is one of those. I say Armageddon in the headline above because absurd hyperbole is a must and because it feels like that in a sports context, like the ultimate, long-awaited final battle. This is only Round 2 of the NBA playoffs but even the conference finals awaiting the winner might not seem as big, because it won't have the rivalry/grudge match/we've-all-been-waiting-for-this quality of Boston-Miami. The Celtics are the team Miami's Big 3 came together to beat, after the Evil Leprechaun defeated both Dwyane Wade's Heat and LeBron James' Cavaliers in the playoffs last year. Boston beat Miami 3-1 during the regular season and earned Wade's "big brothers" designation. Can the little brothers rise up? Says here: Yes. I don't say the old Celtics are ready to disintegrate before our eyes like San Antonio did the other night, but the Heat are the younger and more athletic squad in this series. Almost forgot: They also have LeBron and Dwyane and four games at home. Series keys: Miami matching the physical intensity personified by Kevin Garnett's murderous scowl. And Wade, held to 28 percent shooting and 12.8 points per in four season games vs. Boston, reasserting and being D-Wade again. Series prediction: Heat in 7 games. Your thoughts welcome before, during and after this rather monumental Game 1.
[Today's live chat unfortunately had to be canceled due to McClatchy system errors that messed with MiamiHerald.com. Plan to return next Wednesday 1-2 p.m. as usual. Click HERE to post questions any time. No topic off-limits, except Song Stylings of Irving Berlin. Note: Heat-Celtics playoff post is directly below this in the blog and will bump back on top late this afternoon. Also, join along at Twitter.com/gregcote. No cover, live music, open bar ].
LEBRON AND "RETARDED": LeBron James softly muttered "That's retarded," about a postgame question put to Dwyane Wade, and of course it got overblown. He apologized, because that's what you do. I think LeBron should not have said what he said but also think the context is important. Words change over time. Granpappy remembers when "gay" used to mean happy, for example. People whose condition once made them called "retarded" are now properly called "mentally challenged," so, over time, as the word retarded gradually becomes extinct as a derisive toward the mentally challenged, it might maintain (perhaps grudging) life in the alternate, generic connotation in which LeBron obviously used it. That time apparently is not now, however. Not yet. If you are aghast at LeBron using that word, you probably don't appreciate the image at right, either. Whether one may acceptably say "retarded" without meaning to disparage the mentally challenged is not so dissimilar from a hard-core rapper arguing that his use of the N-word is not intended in its primary, insulting, taboo connotation. Is "retarded" as LeBron used it still hurtful and just always wrong, or are we collectively too politically correct? Take a dip in our poll and have a civil discourse. I am fascinated by etymology and semantics. I believe in free speech and the elasticity of language. Then again I'm a white guy not subject to a lot of prejudice, except perhaps by those who are against fat people.
D-WADE LAUNCHES FANTASY CAMP: Are you over 35? Do you have silly money? Would you pay big to have Dwyane Wade pretend you're pretty good? Then this is for you! CNBC.com breaks the news (story here) that Wade will host a fantasy basketball camp Aug. 18-21 at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. It's for guys 35 and older and costs (gulp) $12,500. Joining Wade as camp "counselors": Charles Barkley, Erik Spoelstra and Marquette coach Buzz Williams. Loaded and wanting to swap sweat with Wade? Click here to register at the camp's official site.
BASEBALL HOLIDAY: JOHNSON VS. HALLADAY: Phillies at Marlins last night. More important: Roy Halladay vs. Josh Johnson. Delicious! Aces wild! And it lived up to hype in a 2-1 Marlins win. How good was this duel? See 'The List' below. And click on Johnsonville for my column off the game. Great night for baseball, and, for me, a brief but needed break from the Heat.
BARCELONA COMING, BUT IS MESSI?: As a soccer fan I am happy that FC Barcelona will be in Miami on Aug. 3 for a friendly at Dolphins' stadium vs. Mexico's Guadalajara. Barcelona is one of the biggest, most popular and premier teams in the world -- in any sport. Unfortunately there is an out-clause that will allow a few stars, notably Lionel Messi, to skip the game. It will be a major spectacle regardless, but to some, watching Barcelona without Messi would be like finally getting to Yankee Stadium only to find Jeter and A-Rod aren't in the lineup.
ON DOLPHINS EMPLOYEE PAY CUTS: Dolphins announced across-the-board 10-to-20 percent pay cuts for employees during the NFL lockout, which means owner Stephen Ross has done the seemingly impossible: Become even less popular. The lockout is blamed. Then again, considering the franchise's diminished stature, decreasing season-ticket sales and no playoff win since Dec. 30, 2000, maybe the pay cuts are otherwise justified. That reminds me. You know how teams and players are not supposed to be in contact with one another during the lockout? The national group, People Who Believe That Rule Is Being Obeyed And Not Routinely Violated, will be meeting tonight at the Waffle House. Corner booth.
ODD MARLINS FAN SITE OF THE DAY: We happened upon a Marlins fan site called stripclubwithstanton.blogspot.com, which makes it either a creepy adoration of Mike Stanton or just a blog with a bizarre name.
NAKED WOMAN AT 30,000 FEET: A woman thought to be in her late 20s caused a disturbance on a Delta flight (click here for story) when she stripped naked and adamantly refused to be covered with a blanket. This is just me, but I have one word for such behavior: "Encouraged."
HOCKEY AND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: New York Rangers star Sean Avery recently said he supports same-sex marriage. Quickly, an agent, Todd Reynolds of Uptown Hockey, Tweeted this: "Very sad to read Sean Avery's misguided support of same-gender 'marriages.' Legal or not, it will always be wrong." I dunno, again, maybe it's me, but if you're that guy's boss do you really want it out there that one of your representatives is a raging homophobe? Dear Todd: It's the 21st century. Feel free to step into it at any time.
STEVEN TYLER: I like Steven Tyler. Like Aerosmith. Like him as a judge on American Idol. So it is without rancor and with great nuetrality that I suggest to you that the man pictured at right appears to be gradually morphing into a woman.
ROYAL WEDDING UPDATE: Princess William and Kate have divorced! Naw just kiddin'. Actually they are headed to their honeymoon on the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. I still can't get over the lavishness of that wedding and all the luminaries there. Of course those luminaries included the queen of England. But enough about Elton John.
THE LIST: WINNINGEST PITCHERS: Best active pitchers' winning percentages, minimum 1,000 career innings, including this season:
Roy Halladay .667
Tim Hudson .655
Roy Oswalt .646
C.C. Sabathia .640
Jered Weaver .631
Others above .600: Cliff Lee .619; Carlos Zambrano .615; Chris Carpenter .610; Justin Verlander .610; Josh Beckett .603; and Freddy Garcia .601. Note: Marlins Josh Johnson would lead at .676 (48-23) but has only 771 career innings.
[Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody! Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. We feature live mariachi music and an open bar. On a more serious note, my email in-box is flooding with nice comments on today's column by me off the Jim Mandich celebration (see below). You all are kind. This man's death has really struck a chord with Dolfans].
HERE ARE DOLPHINS' POST-DRAFT SB ODDS BUT, FIRST, TAKE YOUR ANTI-DEPRESSANT: From our friends at Bodog.com, the Dolphins today are established as a 50-1 longshot to be Super Bowl champions in 2011, tied for 22nd in a 32-team league. Miami finds itself behind even former doormats such as the Lions (35-1) and Rams and Raiders (both 40-1). Favorites are Packers and Patriots at 7-1, Steelers 11-1, Chargers 12-1, and Ravens and Stinkin' Jets 14-1. The good news? The lockout ending and regular season starting on time is the pick at minus-500.
CHRIS BOSH ON COURT AND IN COURT, TOO: The Heat's third of the Big 3 is suing suing Allison Mathis (left), mother of his child, and the VH1 reality show, Basketball Wives, on which she appears this season. Read the Hollywood Reporter exclusive here. Bosh's suit claims his ex and the show are infringing his trademark and publicity rights by "commercially exploiting his likeness" and name. Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard have been other stars upset with their ex's connection to that show. Meanwhile TMZ reported Bosh recently married girlfriend Adrienne Nicole Williams (right) but Bosh denies it despite the publication of an apparent marriage certificate. Bosh, in his spare time, is helping Miami kick Boston's a-- in the NBA playoffs.
LEBRON WANTS YOUR TONGUE: Businessman LeBron James and business partner Maverick Carter have founded a company whose first product is called Sheets Energy Strips, which are applied to the tongue. Endorsers will include LeBron, Amare Stoudemire, the Ravens' Ray Rice and hip-hoppers Drake and Pitbull when the product rolls out later this year. James, in his spare time, is the best player in the NBA.
CELTICS: WE WUZ ROBBED!: Yahoo! Sports reports that after the Celtics lost the regular-season finale in Miami on April 10, coaches and players returned to their team bus to find they had been robbed of cash, jewelry and other valuables. Hmm. There was that time during the game when I disappeared for a while. Anybody got an alibi?
REMEMBERING JIM MANDICH: Dolfans arrived in droves to the stadium for last night's "A Celebration of Jim Mandich's Life" hosted by the Dolphins for the popular former player and longtime radio guy who passed away last week due to cancer. Click on A Fond Farewell for my column off the event. It was announced Mandich would be inducted this season onto the team's Honor Roll as a special contributor, encompassing his playing career but also his impact as a broadcaster and in philanthropy. The honor is deserved. [The Mandich family asks that fans wishing to express support or sympathy consider donations to the Dolphins Cycling Challenge benefiting University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Donations may be made online at ridedcc.com, and checks payable to Miami Dolphins Foundation may be mailed to The Mandich Fund, c/o Miami Dolphins Foundation, Sun Life Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens, FL 33056].
BREAKING NEWS!: Evidently neither Osama bin Laden nor Tupac Shakur are really dead, based on this photo (left) that has come to my attention. I am surprised this has not become bigger news, because as you know there are no doctored photos anywhere on the Internet.
ON RASHARD MENDENHALL'S TWEETS:[Friday update: Champion apparel has cut its endorsement ties with Mendenhall]. The Steelers running back (Twitter name R_Mendenhall) wrote after the death of Osama bin Laden that "We'll never know what really happened," saying he doubted planes could have taken down the Twin Towers on 9/11. He also wrote, "What kind of person celebrates death?", a Tweet that ended with, "We've only heard one side..." Well, Rashard is entitled to his opinion and I'm entitled to say his opinion is idiotic. I'll offer him an excuse. Rashard was 14 when the towers fell. Maybe he wasn't following current events at the time.
WHERE'S SATAN?: Inspired by the it's-about-time death of bin Laden, match the evil-doer to his hideout by clicking here.
DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of Victoria's Secret model Miranda Kerr breastfeeding her baby. Thank you."
THE LIST: No-hitters: Twin Francisco Liriano pitched the first no-hitter of 2011. Ho-hum. No-hitters for me have lost some of their magic. They are not so uncommon. Recall that last year there were six, tying 1990, 1969 and 1915 for the most in one year since 1900. In fact rare is the season that does not have a no-hitter. The last 10 seasons without one: