« May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

6 posts from June 2011

June 29, 2011

Vince Young? Reggie Bush? Vote on post-lockout plan for Dolphins (with poll); plus LeBron and Bono, ode to old guys, German women's soccer (hide the children!) & more

1aa1janvb ["Get Your Truth Here." Thanks to all who tapped into our live online chat today. Do it each Wednesday 1-2. Click HERE to join us live, read transcripts or post questions any time. Also join us at Twitter.com/gregcote R.I.P. Jan van Beveren, the great Dutch goalkeeper and former Fort Lauderdale Striker, dead at 63.].

VINCE YOUNG, REGGIE BUSH MAKE SENSE FOR DOLPHINS: I propose in my latest column (click here) that the Dolphins' post-lockout plan would do well to target QB Vince Young, RB Reggie Bush, utilityman/returner Brad Smith and OLB Jason Taylor -- in about that order of importance. The pretext of the plan is what is realistic and could actually happen. For example, I acknowledge that Carson Palmer is the premier quarterback option but that Cincy hasn't budged in its insistence he won't be traded. Weigh in on my plan by voting below, then tell me how brilliant I am. Um, or not. 

1aa1popejoelouis AN ODE TO THE OLD: The best assignment I ever had in school was to 1aa1jack interview a grandparent about their life. I recommend it to all kids. I discovered my mother's father testified before Congress early last century as part of a child-labor investigation. That brings me to this mini-tribute to South Florida's most senior sports figures, inspired by the Marlins' rehiring of manager Jack McKeon (pictured left) at age 80. Limiting it to living octogenarians-plus, here's a nod of appreciation as well to tennis great Gardnar Mulloy, still swinging on Fisher Island at age 97. To boxing legends Angelo Dundee, 89, and Ferdie Pacheco, 83. To Miami Herald icon Edwin Pope, 82 (pictured youthfully interviewing Joe Louis). And of course to Dolphins legend Don Shula, now 81. Did I miss anybody? Thanks to you all.

1aa1lebronbono LEBRON AND BONO: Heat star LeBron James got some backstage love from Bono before last night's U2 show at the stadium here. Also in the pic: LeBron's girlfriend, Savannah. Given LeBron's continuing lack of a championship ring, clearly the U2 song dedicated to LBJ should be, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Just sayin'.

1aa1grgich MY SUMMER VACATION: Speaking of old guys I'm back at work after a week in California wine country, bookended by nights in wonderful San Francisco, in the wharf area, amid barking sea lions and the best cioppino I have tasted, at Scoma's. Wife and I did 11 vineyards in three days of Sonoma and Napa grape-hopping, including favorites like Duckhorn, Charles Krug and Cakebread. I'd place near that echelon a new wine I hadn't met: Grgich. Don't get the idea I'm an expert or snob. An occasional 2007 Duckhorn cab with a good ribeye is sublime, but I've had many enjoyable affairs with $8 merlots, too. Happy to be back at work. Well, relatively speaking. Not compared to drinking wine all day.

1aa1colen HEAT DRAFT: LOOK OUT, MARIO: Heat traded up slightly to land Cleveland State point guard Norris Cole, pictured rockin' the hightop fade. His thing is 1aa1lebronhair quickness and he's a true PG, meaning Miami is targeting the weak area currently manned none too securely by young veteran Mario Chalmers. Cole dominated at times in the Horizon League -- once had 41 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists in a game. Heat see him as a speed-spark off the bench, and hope he can push Chalmers to a higher, more consistent level. (Also pictured is a wiseguy photoshop sent to me of how LeBron James and his prematurely receding hairline might look in a few years. I do not condone this type of humor but pass it along purely for your personal edification). 

1aa1germanplayboy 1aa1germantwo GERMAN WOMEN'S SOCCER IS WUNDERBAR!: The women's World Cup is underway in Germany (U.S. won its debut vs. North Korea), and I make no apology for appreciating the women's skills but also for finding the sport sexy. Germany is the heavy favorite to win and also the heavy favorite on the sex-appeal side, with five players posing provocatively (pictured) in the current German Playboy. This reminds us how different we are from Europe. Can you imagine the scandal if members of the U.S. women's team agreed to such a photo spread? It would launch a thousand outraged newspaper columns. Maybe even a couple from male writers! Is such a celebration of the female form wrong? Well, it is mighty low on the food-chain in terms of self- or sport-promotion. But I have a hard time thinking that what's pictured here is much different than Serena Williams posing "artfully" nude in an ESPN The Mag "Body" issue.

PANTHERS LOOKING UP: I like what the Panthers are doing under GM Dale Tallon, whose recent draft gives him 23 picks in two drafts -- 15 of them forwards. Also like the trade for veteran Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell, a second-team All-NHL player in 2007-08. Two or three strategic moves in free agency to reach the spending requirement and Cats should (finally) be a playoff team next season.

MICHELLE BACHMANN: Conservative, tea party-right Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann has made official her candidacy for the presidency. As best I can tell, she is Sarah Palin, but smarter. Or did that go without saying? (Free advice: Pick a guy named Turner as your running mate, christen a Bachmann-Turner Overdrive campaign theme).

MEL FISHER TREASURES = GRAVE ROBBERS: I find disturbing the news (read here) of the latest find by Mel Fisher Treasures of Key West. This is a legal enterprise. But legal does not absolve these literal gold-diggers of guilt on the moral meter. I see no glamor in modern-day pirates plundering long-sunken-ships for valuables; in effect, robbing the victims of the shipwrecks. By my eye they are raping the remains of underwater cemeteries. I might be alone on this. It just feels wrong.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost...

June 19, 2011

What South Florida sports figure is facing most pressure? (with poll)

[Note: Monday June 27 and I am back from a one-week "furlough," which is Miami Herald-speak and tough economy-speak for a week off without pay. I'll have a brand new blogpost later this morning! Meantime, remember, nobody loves you like me. Not even your mother].

THE PRESSURE IS ON. BUT WHO SHOULD BE FEELING IT MOST?: LeBron James supposedly feeling the pressure in thre recent NBA Finals made national headinlines. Now Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez has abruptly resigned under the weight of a terrible June swoon. Everywhere you look locally, our sports figures are feeling pressure -- or should be. For sundry reasons and to various degrees the pressure is everywhere among what I like to call our Big Five teams: our four major pro sports plus UM football. I've selected the two men from each team who I think should be feeling the most pressure. (Rodriguez resigned too late to be deleted from the poll). Now it's up to you to play judge and set the order. Vote, then make your case why in the Comments section. You may select up to THREE choices, but who should dubiously be first? Resist the default choice of LeBron unless it's what you really feel. I'd be hard-pressed to not put both Dolphin guys in my top three, but that's just me. Who is under the most pressure right now and why?

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote. It's free. Although claims that it helps you lose weight and become better looking have not yet been substantiated].

June 16, 2011

Trading LeBron or D-Wade for Dwight Howard: Logical or lunacy? (with poll); plus richest athletes, Jake Long, Marlins' gruesome timing, Stanley's Cup & more


TRADING LEBRON OR D-WADE FOR DWIGHT HOWARD: LUNACY OR LOGICAL?: Get it clear that I offer 1aa1dwight the question here in my blog not because I advocate a trade -- I wouldn't do it -- but as a pretty intriguing talking point, and maybe because I don't think such a deal is as illogically insane as some might. ABC's Jeff Van Gundy casually set the balloon loose late in Game 6 Sunday as the Heat frittered toward elimination. He said: "I think that [with] Wade and James, going forward, they have to evaluate: Is that the best complement they could be? Or should they make a play for Dwight Howard, using one of those two guys, to get a more balanced team?" That JVG is the bro of Magic coach Stan Van Gundy adds an extra layer of hmm. Makes you wonder if Stan asked Jeff to float the idea of a trade. After all a deal makes more sense for Orlando, which has Howard for one more season and then likely loses him to free agency in the summer of 2012. No doubt the Magic would rather trade Howard outside the conference, but I'd bet they'd make the deal for LeBron, though likely not for Wade if only because at 29 he is three years older than James and four years older than Howard. The logic implied by Jeff VG is that James and Wade have similar games and styles and therefore will never perfectly coexist, whereas a Heat nucleus of James or Wade, Chris Bosh and the low-post addition of Howard would give Miami a better balanced team. It isn't nutty thinking. But, bottom line, I would not give up on Wade and James as a tandem. They worked together well this season, will get better and better in the cohesion department, and also help make the Heat a force defensively. But that's just me. What do you say and why?

LEBRON COMEDY DELAYED: Variety reports (click here) that a LeBron James feature-length comedy called Ballers has been further delayed. It was to begin shooting last summer but was shelved because of "The Decision" controversy. It was then to begin shooting this summer but is being shelved because of The Finals disappointment. Cameras are now to roll next summer. Well, so they say.

POSITIVE DOLPHIN NEWS! JAKE LONG!:  A friend at NFL Network tells us Dolphins tackle Jake Long will be ranked between 21 and 30 overall in the net's Sunday installment of its "Top 100 Players of 2011" countdown as voted by NFL players. He'll be the highest-ranked of 13 offensive linemen on the list. That means the Dolphins have one player, at least, who is considered state of the art at his position.

HEAT BIG 3 ON NEW RICHEST-ATHLETES LIST: It's Sports Illustrated's new 2011 "Fortunate 50" list of highest-earning American athletes, including salary and endorsements. The top 5: Tiger Woods (62.3 million), Phil Mickelson (61.2), Heat's LeBron James (44.5), Peyton Manning (38.1) and Alex Rodriguez (36.0). List also includes Heatniks Dwyane Wade No. 11 (28.2 million) and Chris Bosh No. 50 (15.5).

THE MARLINS' ABYSMAL TIMING: The Heat is finished. Hockey's done. Football is a-ways off. Local spotlight swings naturally to baseball ... just in time for the Marlins to be on a 1-13 skid that has sent them from seeming playoff-caliber to looking like one of worst squads in MLB. The team just isn't good enough to withstand its best pitcher, Josh Johnson, being on an extended injury-absence and its best player, Hanley Ramirez, hitting around .210. Too much else is going wrong, too, such as Chris Coghlan's disappointing bat and the unaddressed mess at third base. Manager Edwin Rodriguez's job shouldn't be considered in jeopardy , but will be if this funk continues deeper into summer.

ON GARRETT WITTELS: I touched on the rape arrest of FIU baseball star Garrett  Wittels when it happens, so it is only fair I give space to the dropping of charges against him. It's a reminder that little is black or white. An arrest or charges filed don't always mean guilt. Neither do the dropping of charges always mean complete innocence. We move on, and wish Wittels well.   .

OH (NO), CANADA: Vancouver's Game 7 home gag against Boston last night, an embarrassing 4-0 loss, minted the Bruins' first Stanley Cup title since 1972, the halcyon days of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr. It also sent stock in Roberto Luongo plummeting and extended to 18 years Canada's drought since the nation that invented hockey last possessed the Cup. Chin up, Canada, eh. There's always curling!

1aa1cubanpiss DEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK, but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban holding the NBA championship trophy while urinating. Thank you." Dear reader: I would never do such a thing, even though such a photo would be rife with symbolism: the Mavericks p---ing on Miami's (championship) parade.

Click back. Will be adding more stuff to this latest blogpost throughout the day...

June 13, 2011

Heat polls: Was Year 1 of Big 3 a success or failure? Plus who's to blame for Finals loss? Vote now...


[Notes: Thanks to all who joined in on our live online chat today. Terrific response. Click HERE to join us Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m., to read past transcripts or to post questions any time. Main Heat-Mavs/NBA Finals post is directly below this in blog. Bodog.com's new 2012 title odds have Heat the favorite at 5-2]. 

WHY JUDGING THIS HEAT SEASON IS A DIFFICULT TASK: Was it championship-or-bust all along for the Miami Heat? Is that fair? Based on expectations the team set for itself, maybe that is fair. Time for you to decide. Click on Year 2 Pressure Will Be Greater for today's latest column by me, and on Heat, LeBron Have Just Begun for my Tuesday column. Now have your say. In separate polls here, we invite you to rate this season on a scale of success to failure, and then to identify the main reason Heat fans are measuring their disappointment today instead of preparing for a Game 7.

See a breakdown of who's voting and how below the two polls in this post.

POLL 1: RATE SEASON ON SCALE OF SUCCESS TO FAILURE: There truly are two ways to look at it. Feeling generous? You think getting past Boston and Chicago and reaching the Finals in Year 1 is pretty damned good. Can't get past the disappointment? You think the season is an ultimate failure based on grand expectations set by the team itself. Vote now and say why.

POLL 2: WHY DID MIAMI LOSE IN THE FINALS?: Pinning blame, finding fault, call it what you want. Miami lost for a reason. What was it? What happened? Vote now and elaborate in a comment.

POLL ANALYSIS: Heat fans/South Floridians are a plurality but far from an overall majority in voting so far, this being the World Wide Web and all. Therefore results overall are not nearly as positive/optimistic as they would be if voting were confined to Greater Miami. Votes have poured in from 48 countries so far. As of earlier this morning the top five U.S. states in total votes were Florida (630), Texas (573), California (413), Ohio (340) and Illinois (188). Which of course indicates that bunches of Mavericks and Cavaliers fans are weighing in. How is the overall vote impacted? Small example: To the first poll question, Floridians are voting that the season was a success for the first year, with a plurality of 36 percent, while Ohioans are calling it a failure based on expectations by an 84% landslide. To the second question, 37% of Florida voters blame LeBron for coming up small, vs. 81% of Ohio voters. Bottom line: Results in the two polls reflect more of a national viewpoint that is decidedly more negative than how Heat fans feel.

[Join us at Twitter.com/gregcote].


June 12, 2011

NBA FINALS / G6: Dallas 105, Heat 95. Home is where the hurt is. Mavs celebrate championship on Miami's home court

[Note: The contrast in AFC East stars' wives might not favor Mami. Tom Brady's wife chased by paparazzi. Brandon Marshall's wife chased by police. Join at Twitter.com/gregcote. Free parking].

G6: DALLAS 105, HEAT 95. MIAMI DENIED CHAMPIONSHIP IN YEAR 1 OF THE BIG 3 (Mavericks win series 4-2): Click on Mission Failed for my column off the game. Mavs owner Mark Cuban said afterward that Dallas fans "punked the s--- out of Heat fans" in this series. That's dumb. This wasn't about the fans. This wasn't about LeBron failing. This was about Dallas being a better team in this series. Miami did not deserve to win this Game 6, and therefore this series. Too many turnovers last night, too many missed free throws, too much clutch shooting by Jason Terry and the Mavs. Credit to Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki. Original post: I'm on record thinking Miami will win two straight games at home and take the NBA title. Also I think Dallas' realistic best shot is tonight. This has beeen safe haven all season for the Heat, so hated everywhere else but finding healing here. Now that need has never been greater as Miami faces its first elimination game. Aside to the Big 3: Be big, or start the offseason.

COUGHGATE! Dwyane Wade appears to mock Dirk Nowitzki's recent coughing/101 fever and LeBron James plays along and the video goes (appropriately enough) viral. Click here to watch. Dirk takes umbrage, calls Wade "childish." So I guess this passes as controversy. Two things. 1) It was childish to needle Nowitzki's condition like that but so what? They not making fun of a rival's injury. 2) Relax, Dirk. You had a head-cold.

G5: DALLAS 112, HEAT 103: MIAMI SQUANDERS ANOTHER LATE LEAD AS 13 MAVS' 3'S BURY HEAT: (Mavericks lead series 3-2) Don't blame LeBron. Not after his 17-10-10 triple-double. Don't blame Dwyane Wade's hip injury that kept him out for a couple of shifts. He was fine late. Miami lost because Dallas shot lights-out, 56 percent overall including 13 3's. Discouraging for Miami is the loss despite a 36-26 lead in rebounds and a huge 40 points from the bench. Encouraging is the enormous lift of the final two games being back in Miami. If I'm a betting man I'm liking Heat taking two straight at home, and the championship. Give Dallas credit, though. This has turned out to be one heck of a Finals. Somebody is going to damn well earn this title. And I have a feeling we won't know who until the last franctic seconds of Game 7. Original post: A theory to which I subscribe is that the Heat plays better when under pressure, when doubted, when adversity is in the room. That is why I'd expect a Miami victory in Game 5 tonight, coming off a loss in which the Heat blew another fourth-quarter lead and LeBron James wilted with an 8-point performance. Miami has not lost consecutive games since early March; why start now? Then again more pressure is on Dallas I think, because Miami even with a loss would have two home games to capture the championship. The national storyline going in will be LeBron. Will he bounce back and silence his critics? I would expect so. 

1aa1dirkflag DIRK'S FINALS DICTIONARY: Throughout the NBA Finals, a daily German-to-English translation from Wurzburg's own Dirk Nowitzki:

Day 13 / Sun June 12: "Nun Dirk nimmt sein talente zu South Beach." ("Now Ditrk is taking his talents to South Beach").

Day 12 / Sat June 11: "Ich bin der konig von Wurzburg und auch der prinz von Cleveland." ("I am the king of Wurzburg and also and the prince of Cleveland.")

Day 11 / Fri June 10: "Ja, das ist es. Ein weiterer sieg und die weltherrschaft wird mein sein!" ("Yes, that is it. One more win and world domination will be mine!"

Day 10 / Thu June 9: "Ich fühle mich besser. Die Frage ist nun, wird LeBron besser fühlen?" ("I feel better. The question now is, will LeBron feel better?"

Day 9 / Wed June 8: "Ich hatte Fieber von 101 Jahren. Nun sind alle von Miami ist übel." ("I had a fever of 101. Now all of Miami feels sick.")

Day 8 / Tue June7: "Schrumpfende? LeBron ist nicht schrumpft. Meine teamkollegensind schrumpfen!" ("Shrinking? LeBron is not shrinking. My teammates are shrinking!")

Day 7 / Mon June 6: "Eine kleine hilfe, bitte? Ich bin der grobte, was aus Deutschland seit bratwurst, aber ich kann es nicht alleine schaffen!" ("A little help, please? I am the greatest thing from Germany since bratwurst, but I cannot do it alone!"

Day 6 / Sun June 5: "Deutschen bekommen einen schlechten ruf. Wir lieben anderen menschen der welt. Außer Miamians." ("Germans get a bad rap. We love other people of the world. Except Miamians.")

Day 5 / Sat June 4: "Es weht immer noch meine meinung dass ein haufen cowboys in stiefeln und frauen mit grossen blonden haare sind für eine Deutsch jubeln. ("It still blows my mind that a bunch of cowboys in boots and women with big blond hair are cheering for a German.") 

Day 4 / Fri June 3: "Gut: Mit einer großen drei. Besser: Mit einem großen Dirk." ("Good: Having a Big 3. Better: Having a big Dirk.")

Day 3 / Thu June 2: "Müssen wir gewinnen heute abend oder Dallas Meisterschaft hofftgeringer sein wird als das Lager ineinem Betrunkenen Stein links." ("We must win tonight or Dallas championship hopes will be less than the lager left in a drunkard's stein.")

Day 2 / Wed June 1 -- "Oh nein mein finger fuhlt schmerz heute." ("Oh no my finger feels pain today.")

Day 1 / Tue May 31 -- "Lassen sie uns anfangen!" ("Let us begin!")

Bonus: Click here for a video of Dirk being German and dancing badly. Update: Dallas Morning News reports a marketing poll indicates only one-third of Americans know who Dirk is, vs. 80 percent who are aware of LeBron James. Es ist ein schande!

LEBRON FEEDING-FRENZY GOING FULL-BORE: Dallas' DeShawn Stevenson charged today/Wednesday that LeBron James "checked out" late in Game 4 Tuesday night during a career-playoff-low 8-point performance. That's code for pretty much gave up. Them's fightin' words. No shortage of those. The media piranha are out, doing what we do, which is pile on. Now Bill Simmons christens his new Grantland website with the latest evisceration. LeBron's "shrinking" is all the rage now. It's too much, of course. Exaggerated. Over the top. Dallas is preening. Cleveland is howling. Miami is nervous. Only one way to stop all of this, LeBron. Time to be the King again. That doesn't mean the Heat should divert from Dwyane Wade's hot hand. Just means Miami needs an aggressive, back-to-himself LBJ on the offensive end starting Thursday night in Game 5 in Dallas. Time for LBJ to shut everybody up with one big, redemptive performance. One superstar's reputation might depend on it. So might a Heat championship.

1aa1finalssun G4: DALLAS 86, HEAT 83: WADE AND BOSH COMBINE FOR 56 BUT IT ISN'T ENOUGH (Series tied 2-2): Not for the first time this series, Miami squandered a big lead, this time 9 points in the fourth quarter -- a disturbing trend to say the least. Fourth-quarter turnovers dismally let the Heat down. Dwyane Wade (32) and Chris Bosh (24) did their part offensively, but LeBron James did not, with a mere 8 points. "Point blank, he struggled," said Bosh of James. After the previous game James had been accused of "shrinking" late in games this series. I thought that unfair. But Tuesday, at least, the criticism seemed valid. Click on Calling LeBron for my column from Dallas off last night's game. Heat Game 4 Player of the Game: Wade. Again. Wade is doing the heavy lifting in these Finals. James' all-round game has been fine, but he must do more on the offensive end. Original post: Miami winning here Sunday night shoved all of the Game 4 pressure onto the Mavericks, to a degree the Heat can play free and loose. Erik Spoelstra will talk about treating this like a must-win, like a Game 7, but can they mentally? That frame of mind will come more naturally to Dallas tonight. It will be interesting to see what the Mavs do to try to limit Dwyane Wade, perhaps portending a breakout, critics-quieting Finals game for LeBron James. Click on Defending LeBron for my latest column on why James has been so valuable this series despite his lack of fourth-quarter scoring, and why the critricism of him has been utterly inane.

SHRINKING? WHAT'S SHRINKING ISN'T LEBRON. IT IS CBSSPORTS.COM's CREDIBILITY: A writer for that website posted a piece headlined, "The incredible shrinking superstar," a gratuitous, baseless and laughably inane gutting of LeBron James. I can't even bring myself to include a link. Bulletin to said writer: LeBron is on pace to join Michael Jordan (1993) and Shaquille O'Neal ('95) as only players in past 20 years to average 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and 50 percent shooting in a Finals. LeBron also has been Miami's best defender in this series. Clicking on Defending LeBron for my new column on this, online now and shipping to Tuesday's pulp edition.

G3: HEAT 88, DALLAS 86:  WADE'S 29 SPARKS RESILIENT ROAD VICTORY: (Miami leads series, 2-1): Yeah, Miami almost blew another big lead. Yeah, LeBron had a mostly quiet night offensively. Yeah, 1aa1dwade2 Dallas was missing a key role player out injured. But this is not a game for finding fault. A huge, huge win on the road by the Heat assures the series will return to Miami with a chance to win the championship on the home floor. That makes Sunday an enormous night. Doesn't matter if the win was lucky or "barely." It matters that it was a win. Click on Wade's World for my column from Dallas on how Dwyane Wade is looking like vintage 2006 so far in these Finals. Heat Game 3 Player of the Game: Wade, with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Original post: This was the 12th time an NBA Finals has been 1-1 heading into Game 3 since the 2-3-2 format began in 1985, and the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the title 11 times. Um, that's every time. Small sample? Sure. Prove anything? Nah. Interesting, though. Figures as a mental weight on tonight's losing team, which inherits the burden of pressure. Feels like Dallas should be favored on the wing of what should be a maniacal homecoming crowd, but I also see much resolve out of Miami after its embarrassing fourth-quarter meltdown in Game 2. Expect more aggressiveness and a bigger game offensively from LeBron James. Also need a wakeup call for Chris Bosh, who is 9-for-34 shooting in first two games.

1aa1ud YOU TELL 'EM, U: You know how the Mavs' Jason Terry led the ridiculous whining over the supposed excessive celebration of Dwyane Wade after that 3-pointer that gave Miami its ill-fated 15-point lead in Game 2? Heat's Udonis Haslem had the perfect reply in Dallas this/Saturday morning. Said U: "This is coming from a guy who scores a layup and acts like a 747." Boo-ya! Haslem is pictured right addressing the Finals media today. I have a feeling Game 3 Sunday night could be a bit chippy/physical. I'm headed out there tomorrow morning. Should be fun.

G2: DALLAS 95, HEAT 93: MONUMENTAL LATE COLLAPSE WASTES 36-POINT NIGHT BY WADE (Series tied, 1-1): I'm not sure how I managed to crank out a column on this game because it  nearly left me speechless. But here it is; click on Stunned for the column. Are you kidding? Miami led 88-73 with 6 minutes left and somehow lost. Got 36 points from Dwyane Wade and somehow lost. Now the Second-Guess Police will be out in force. And there is fodder for that. Heat had a foul to give in last half-minute but didn't use it. Should have. Heat switched Chris Bosh onto a hot Dirk Nowitzki after Udonis Haslem had marked him most of the night. Why? Heat failed to double-team Nowitzki late. Why? Also, Wade, the best player all night, didn't see much of the ball late. Why? None of these are even issues of course if Miami wins. But a defeat such as this begs the questions. Heat Game 2 Player of the Game: Wade, by a lot. But now, what should be a 2-0 Finals lead heading to Dallas instead is 1-1 facing three straight road games. I still think Miami will win this series and this championship. But Thursday night made the notion a hell of a lot more precarious. Oh my. Original post: No but this really is the most important game, isn't it? It would feel like Miami up 2-0 was in total command -- yes, despite the lessons of 2006. But Dallas at 1-1 heading into three straight home games would feel just as much in control. The Finals pivot here, tonight. Miami must continue as the only unbeaten home team in the playoffs and hope Dwyane Wade's second half in Game 1 was a precursor. Adjustments by Dallas also will be interesting to watch. Offensively the Mavericks must figure a way to decipher the best defense they have seen by far in these playoffs. (Out West, they think defense is the rest time before having the ball back). At the other end, Dallas might want to rethink its devotion to so much zone defense, which seems to open the floor and enable Miami's early dominance on the boards. Coach Rick Carlisle, earn that cash.

AH, WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN, DALLAS...:We have unearthed a video from last summer exhorting LeBron James to sign with Dallas. Click on C'mon LeBron Put Your Mavericks Jersey On. It isn't bad. Sad song to Mavericks fans. Party music to Miami.


 "CAVS FOR MAVS." (YAWN):Cleveland's steadfast LeBron haters have rallied to launch a "Cavs For Mavs" Facebook page (see understated logo). Meaning one guy did. Gawd. Do you people have any idea how boring you are? Cleveland LeBron haters are like a modern-day Flat Earth Society. Or people still sold on Sarah Palin. The other 95 percent of us are looking at you like you're nuts, thinking, "Jesus, let it go already." You know how, outside the arena sometimes there are religious crackpots with a mic alerting arriving fans they are going straight to hell for having fun? Those are Clevelanders.



PAT RILEY READS TO KIDS:Heat president appeared Wednesday as the NBA and Heat opened a Learn & Play Center at a local elementary school, and Pat read a book to the kids. The book was entitled, "How I Got All The Best Players." Naw I'm kidding. It was called "Where The Wild Things Are." (Click on photo for larger version).

G1: HEAT 92, DALLAS 84. BIG 3 COME UP BIG FOR MIAMI:(Miami leads series, 1-0): LeBron's 24 points, D-Wade's 22 and a steady 19 by Chris Bosh and those three's combined 28 rebounds were enough to carry Miami in the Finals opener. Mostly it was tough defense that limited the high-scoring Mavs to 1aa1dwade 38 percent shooting. Dirk Nowitzki got his (27 points) but as expected Dallas had no scary second scorer to threaten Miami. Heat in early control now heading into Game 2 Thursday night here. Heat Game 1 Player of the Game: I'm going to say Wade, whose big second half sparked the Heat when a spark was most needed. Also a welcome second-half from him, an indication that Wade is back after a tepid series vs. Chicago. Click on Bandwagon Gains Steam for my column off Game 1. People accuse Miami of having bandwagon fans, but folks nationwide will be joining the 'wagon when Heat victories lead to championships. Just watch. Original post: I offer the headline "America's (Best) Team vs. Germany's (Favorite) Team" with a slight apology for the jingoism, perhaps, but with none whatsoever for the accuracy. The Heat is America's Team even if America doesn't know it yet. "Best," for now (it says here), with "most popular" to follow if the championships do. Dallas? Most are rooting against the love-to-hate Heat and vilified LeBron James more than for Dallas, except of course Mavericks fans and Germans swooning over native son Dirk Nowitzki. They're partying in Wurzburg! Click on It Isn't Quite Hate for a series preview column by me -- for the real reasons so many fans feel the way they do about the Heat. This rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals finds its biggest storyline, to me, in which superstar -- James or Nowitzki -- finally will enjoy his elusive first title. Dirk's Mavs choked in '06, blowing a 2-0 series lead and what should have been 3-0 and losing to Miami in six games. Haunting. Dirk says he has not looked at tapes of those games even once since. LeBron reached the Finals in '07 (with Cleveland) and got swept. Nourishing. LeBron says he frequently has watched tapes of those games, gaining inspiration. On a personal note, this blog was born in September 2005 and it was those '06 Heat-Mavs NBA Finals that really launched us in a big way. Five years later, Dirk and the Mavs are an aging team without a second scorer who scares you. Miami is ascending, and with a second (and third) scorer who scares you. Heat also play better defense. Dirk will get his points. What concerns most is Miami's attention to perimeter defense, because the Mavs can kill you with 3's, as the Lakers found out. Prediction: History repeats. Heat, 4-2.

THE LIST: SOUTH FLORIDA CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHTS: This marks the 10th time (we're 5-4) a local big-four-sports professional team has played for an overall championship. Occasions chronologically when Miami pro teams have played for their sport's season title:

Season      Team                                        Result

1971          Dolphins/Super Bowl                 Lost 24-3 to Dallas

1972          Dolphins/Super Bowl                 Won 14-7 over Washington

1973          Dolphins/Super Bowl                 Won 24-7 over Minnesota

1982          Dolphins/Super Bowl                 Lost 27-17 to Washington

1984          Dolphins/Super Bowl                 Lost 38-16 to San Francisco

1995-96     Panthers/Stanley Cup Finals      Lost 4-0 to Colorado

1997          Marlins/World Series                Won 4-3 over Cleveland

2003          Marlins/World Series                Won 4-2 over New York

2005-06     Heat/NBA Finals                       Won 4-2 over Dallas

2010-11     Heat/NBA Finals                       Dallas leads series 3-2

June 04, 2011

Should Heat retire Shaq's number? (with poll); plus idiot Sabean, the (Burger) King is dead, greatest songs & more


1aa1shaqheat SHOULD HEAT RETIRE SHAQ'S NUMBER?: Shaquille O'Neal's retirement this week unleashed a deserved onslaught of praise for The Big Fella, truly an all-time great and maybe the best quiniela of talent and personality in sports history. The Lakers immediately announced they will retire his number. But should Miami? A trickier question. Shaq played only 3 1/2 seasons here but made three all-star teams, averaged 19.6 points and of course had a huge hand (literally) in the 2006 championship. Is that enough? I believe in exclusivity in all the retired-number/ring-of-honor stuff, and think Shaq might fall just short of having his No. 32 hanging from the rafters. Agree or no? Vote and say why.

1aa1brians BRIAN SABEAN IS AN IDIOT: San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean (pictured) should be disciplined by MLB for some pretty outrageous comments against the Marlins' Scott Cousins, who barreled into (and injured) catcher Buster Posey in a home-plate collision. The play was legal -- Posey was blocking the plate without the ball -- but Sabean called it "malicious," said he'd be happy if Cousins never played another big-league game, and threatened retaliation with, "We'll have a long memory." The club apologized for his unprofessional comments. That isn't enough. Here is an interesting opinion from somebody who know a little bit about catching, Johnny Bench.

1aa1burgerking2 THE BURGER KING IS DEAD: Miami-based Burger King has a new marketing firm that is phasing out the company's iconic, eponymous and wonderfully creepy mascot. This is a travesty! Just about every other fast-food chain's mascot is eminently more deserving of the swift axe, starting with Ronald McDonald and Jared from Subway. Ronald McDonald looks like the cross-dressing, lifelong-bachelor uncle you never ask to babysit. The good news in all of this is that The Burger King is doing OK (see photo) in his sudden, unexpected retirement. Besides, once actually dead, he'd stand certain to be transmogrified into the leading role in a vampire movie.

1aa1kyles MLB DRAFT IS MONDAY. KEEP IT QUIET: We can't get enough NFL and NBA draft talk but the baseball draft always slips in like a good burglar. It starts Monday and let's hope the Marlins do better than in 2008. ESPN.com listed the 10 worst top-10 picks of the past 10 MLB drafts and had at No.7 Florida's '08 choice of catcher Kyle Skipworth sixth overall -- the Marlins' only single-digit pick in that span. Skipworth is now at Double-A Jacksonville, hitting around .180 and fanning a lot.

NEXT SUPERHERO: FORESKIN MAN?: Could I say it in a blog if it weren't true? Click here.

Click back. Might be adding more stuff later...

THE LIST: GREATEST SONGS: Rolling Stone has gotten almost as list-crazy as Forbes and me, and RS' latest is the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. Their top 10:

10. Ray Charles "What'd I Say"

9. Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit"

8. Beatles "Hey Jude"

7. Chuck Berry "Johnny B. Goode"

6. Beach Boys "Good Vibrations"

5. Aretha Franklin "Respect"

4. Marvin Gaye "What's Going On"

3. John Lennon "Imagine"

2. Rolling Stones "Satisfaction"

1. Bob Dylan "Like A Rolling Stone."

Note: All 10 artists are in my iPod and nine of the songs are, all except number 10. Sorry, Ray. What's notable is that except for Nirvana all the songs are fairly ancient.