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14 posts from May 2012

May 30, 2012

G2: Heat 115, Celtics 111: Barely counts. Miami seizes 2-0 series lead with OT thriller

[1) It is Thursday, May 31. Our take on Dolphins-on-Hard Knocks and more may be found in blogpost directly below this latest one. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Heat Stand Tall, Celtics Hit the Deck for my column off last night's Game 2. I am duty-bound to offer the link, although, given the excruciating deadline situation, I felt like getting up at 5 a.m. and stealing papers off lawns like in that scene from Absence Of Malice. Also, I weighed phoning in a bomb threat to the Internet so nobody could read the column online either, but I couldnt find a phone number.

G2: HEAT 115, CELTICS 111 (OT): MIAMI SURVIVES 44 POINTS BY RONDO: Miami shot only 44 percent, missed 16 free throws, allowed Rajon Rondo to run wild for 44 points, but somehow still won. Credit the no-quit Celtics -- respect your elders! -- but credit Miami even more for prevailing on a night that Boston controlled for a long time. LeBron James did not shoot well (7-for-20) but got to the free-throw line 24 times and scored 34 points. Dwyane Wade shook off a 2-point first half to end with 23. And Mario Chalmers came up big (as he has much of this postseason) with 22. This loss has to be crushing for Boston, now down 2-0. What might be more depressing for this team than to know even 44 points by Rondo isn't enough? Pregame: San Antonio commands Oklahoma City 2-0 in the NBA's Western Conference finals and now Miami is about to pull the same number on Boston 1aa1heatcelticsin the East tonight in the bayside gym. Heat won comfortably enough in Game 1 to take the foot off the gas late, and can't see much of a different result tonight. One change will be Boston's effort to defend the paint better. Heat was 21-for-27 inside Monday night including 19 dunks or layups. A more physical Leprechaun effort is in store, with Rajon Rondo generating much chatter asserting Heat players have "got to hit the deck." Then again the slightest breeze qualifies as tough talk in the playoffs, courtesy Your Friend the Media, which treats the mildest controversy like currency. As when Dwyane Wade responded, "We're not gonna let anyone come in and punk us." Ooo-oooh! (Aside to Boston with the let's-get-physical talk: Um ... how'd that work out for the Pacers?) The fact is Boston is just not a healthy team right now, aggravating the natural creakiness of age. Ray Allen can barely play on that ankle. Paul Pierce is obviously not himself. Avery Bradley's absence really hurts, especially defensively. Also, Kevin Garnett's scowl and demeanor reads tough guy, but he's content in his career's winter to settle for little jumpers and not take full advantage of his (theoretically) being the most dominant "big" in this series. It feels like the end is near for this era of Celtics basketball.

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May 29, 2012

Extreme makeover: How HBO's Hard Knocks is part of Dolphins master plan; plus D-Wade's girl in bikini 'n cowboy hat, rock-climbing, Elvis' crypt & more

[1) It is Wednesday, May 30. Stunningly Serena Williams is out in first round of French Open, her earliest exit in 47 career Grand Slam events. 2) Rihanna's new signature perfume is called Nude. Or, did that go without saying? 3) Find main Heat-Celtics Game 1 blogpost directly below this newest one. 4) Stan Van Gundy claims he'll take a year off from coaching. Which means he'll listen only to lucrative offers from big teams. 5) Thanks again to ESPN's Outside The Lines for having us on yesterday to talk LeBron James. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

1aa1hardknocksRESTORING THE BRAND: DOLPHINS AGREE TO BE FEATURED ON 'HARD KNOCKS': The Dolphins are trying to reestablish themselves as a prominent, national franchise -- and also reinvigorate their once-dominant status in South Florida -- and that planned brand-rebuilding is the major reason why the club has agreed to be featured this year on HBO's Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Miami Dolphins. The reality series will consist of five one-hour episodes debuting August 7 and running weekly through Sept. 4. Training camp begins July 26. (The Marlins are being similarly featured this year, on Showtime's baseball reality series, The Franchise). A 24-person crew from HBO and NFL Films will be in South Florida to produce the (nearly) all-access documentary. "We are looking forward to connecting with our fans across the country," said Joe Philbin, who'll be the first rookie head coach featured. After today's practice Philbin added, "It’s a chance for us to show the new direction and identity of this football team." The show has been critically acclaimed but not always welcomed by NFL teams because of the intrusiveness and potential distraction. Several teams turned down HBO before the Dolphins said yes. The series began with the Ravens in 2001 and Cowboys in 2002, and returned with the Chiefs in 2007, Cowboys in 2008, Bengals in 2009 and Jets in 2010 before skipping last year. The Dolphins are not as prominent, recently successful or star-driven as HBO would like, although best bets for lots of face time figure to include Philbin, running back Reggie Bush and the quarterback battle featuring top draftee Ryan Tannehill. (I suspect Ryan's blond, telegenic, aspiring-model wife Lauren might sneak in there a bit, too). A club source told me Monday another reason for the Dolphins agreeing to Hard Knocks is an attempt to steer the focus and conversation back onto the football field and away from front-office notoriety. Small example: The club's representative in an HBO/NFL Films/Dolphins joint news conference tomorrow will be Philbin -- conspicuously not owner Stephen Ross or general manager Jeff Ireland. The club sees Hard Knocks as a platform to showcase Philbin leading a storied franchise out of its dark days, and presenting this coach and city as enticing for future free agents and also for wayward fans.

On Reggie Bush and the team's response: Running back Reggie Bush -- arguably the Dolphins' biggest star from a national standpoint -- missed yesterday's offseason practice day, to which coach Joe Philbin said, "I don't want to comment." Huh? Really? The terse no-comment leaves the impression Bush was AWOL, his absence unexcused. Fans are owed the simple truth. Not every detail, but the essence. Philbin's reaction runs jarringly counter to the franchise's supposed new era of openness.

1aa1gabreilleuHERE'S DWYANE WADE'S GIRLFRIEND IN A WHITE BIKINI AND A COWBOY HAT: Guess that headline about says it all. Click here for a video of actress Gabrielle Union enjoying the surf off Miami Beach on Monday. It's worth abiding the 15-second ad. (Somebody told me the friend with her is LeBron James' lady, Savannah Brinson). Life is good for D-Wade on and off the court, judging by this photo. 

MARLINS AND ROCK CLIMBING: So an 11-year-old girl falls 18 feet onto concrete (she's OK) while on the rock-climbing wall at the new Marlins ballpark. My first thought: Why the hell is there a rock-climbing wall at the new Marlins ballpark!? When did sports franchises become so desperate to attract and amuse fans that the team and game were seen as insufficient? Rule of thumb: The only wall that should be climbed at a ballpark is the outfield wall, by outfielders.

HEADLINES YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU'D SEE: Click here. Spoiler alert: Skip this if you find unappealing the thought of eating testicles in a fancy restaurant. If your first thought was, "Depends on how they're prepared," then go ahead and click on the link.

1aa1sashaandradeTHE PHILADELPHIA 69ERS: This is a few days old but too delicious to ignore: WPLG anchor Sasha Andrade (pictured in screen-grab), saying on air the Heat were waiting to see if they'd next play the Boston Celtics or "the Philadelphia 69ers" instead of 76ers. Oops, sorry, Dr. Freud! Click here for the inevitable YouTube vid. Hey she was only off by seven!

WHAT AM I BID FOR ELVIS PRESLEY'S CRYPT?: This is a weird and macabre story. It is not as weird or macabre as a story about a deranged naked man eating the flesh off another man's face. But it is weird and macabre nevertheless. I suppose the crypt would be pricier if Elvis were still entombed.

1aa1scullybobbleClick back. Will be updating and adding to this latest blogpost. Hey! How'd that floating Vin Scully Bobblehead get in this blogpost over there. Get out of here, floating Vin Scully Bobblehead!...

May 28, 2012

G1: Heat 93, Celtics 79: LeBron's 32 has Miami off and running in Eastern finals

[1) It is Tuesday, May 29. Saluting the military and honoring America's war dead a day after Memorial Day. 2) Voting continues in our Heat-Celtics series poll in blogpost directly below this one. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

G1: HEAT 93, CELTICS 79: MIAMI YOUNGER, MORE ATHLETIC AND ALSO FRESHER. UH OH, BOSTON: (Click on LeBron Is There When It Counts for my latest column, off last night's game. James has changed his pregame routine, and to a lesser extend Dwyane Wade has, too. But the dominating after tipoff continues). Ho hum. LeBron James 32 points and 13 rebounds, Dwyane Wade 22 points and seven assists. Also nice little support with 10 from Shane Battier, nine from Mario Chalmers and eight from Mike Miller. And overall dominance on the boards with a 48-33 edge in rebounding. This Game 1 result did nothing to alter my thought that Miami wins this series in five games. ..... Pregame: NBA Eastern Conference finals unfold in the bayside gym tonight and I don't see how the old and hobbled Celtics 1aa1heatcelticsare going to keep pace with the Heat. It will take every molecule of Boston's experience and guile -- along with some coaching wizardry from Doc Rivers -- for the Leprechauns to really challenge in this series. 1aa1heatceltics2Miami also is healthier (other than Chris Bosh's continued absence) and entering Game 1 with two extra days' rest. That reminds me: Click on The Bosh Factor for today's latest column by me. It's on how circumstance and the other-worldly play of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have given the Heat the luxury to not hurry Bosh back prematurely. Miami can beat Boston, as it did Indiana, without him. It is in The Finals vs. San Antonio or Oklahoma City when the Heat will need a healthy Bosh to win a championship. But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Dangerous to look past Boston, a proud team making its last run, especially if Rajon Rondo busts loose big as he did in a pair of Celtics wins over Miami this season. Series pick: Heat in 5 games.

HEAT PROHIBITIVE 1-6 ODDS TO WIN EAST: Bovada odds have Miami 1-6 to win this Boston series. Individual over/under for points are LeBron James 30 and Dwyane Wade 25.5. NBA title odds among the four finalists are Spurs 13-10, Heat 3-2, Thunder 17-4 and Celtics 12-1. 

1aa1broncarIT'S GOOD TO BE KING: It is midday on a gorgeous Saturday in Miami, you happen to be driving downtown near the Heat arena, and the guy in the convertible next to you at Biscayne and NE 8th Street causes you to do a theatrical double-take. He looks more than familiar. Accustomed to being recgonized, the man discreetly acknowledges you before casually motoring on. You silently thank whomever invented the cell-phone camera and drive on with a smile. [Photo courtesy reader Ken Oliver]

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May 27, 2012

Here's why Heat will beat Celtics; now your prediction goes here (with poll)

1aa1memday[1) It is Monday, May 28. Happy Memorial Day, everyone, to the degree the word "happy" might appropriately be applied to an occasion honoring the war dead. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

HEAT-CELTICS SERIES WILL END HOW?: We ran a poll like this before the Pacers series so it's practically a long-standing blog tradition of roughly two weeks. Heat-Celtics qualifies as a glamour, TV-friendly series much more than Heat-Sixers would have been. Also figures to be more competitive since Miami owns Philly but was 1-3 vs. Boston this season. Despite that I like the Heat in five, trusting that LeBron and D-Wade maintain their hot hands. Celtics are too old and hobbled and can't run with Miami. An obvious key for a still Chris Bosh-less Miami will be will be limiting Kevin Garnett inside, but a bigger key will be defending Rajon Rondo, who killed the Heat in two of those wins this season. OK enough of me rambling. Who wins this series and why?

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May 23, 2012

G6: Heat 105, Pacers 93: Monster! Wade's 41 sends Miami into Eastern finals vs. Celtics

[1) It is Sunday, May 27. It's Boston. Celtics beat 76ers last night so it'll be a Heat-Leprechauns Eastern finals. 2) Thanks to ESPN's 'Outside The Lines' and Bob Ley for having us back on yesterday to talk Heat-Pacers. Enjoyed it. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Dwyane Inflicts The Pain for my latest column, from Indianapolis, off last night's series-clinching Heat triumph fueled by Dwyane Wade's 41 points. There was never a question who the better team in this series was, despite Indiana's posturing and noise.

G6: HEAT 105, PACERS 93: WADE's 41 CRUSHES INDIANA, SENDS MIAMI INTO EASTERN FINALS: Awesome. Just awesome. Dwyane Wade 41 points -- a career playoff high -- on 17-for-25 shooting. LeBron James in a pretty fair support role with 28. Mario Chalmers chipping in 15 and Mike Miller 12. What an all-round effort as Miami advances 4-2. NBA championship hopes? Fully restored. Pregame: Can this Heat-Pacers series get any wilder or more interesting? (Rhetorical question; we'll find out tonight in Indy). 1aa1heatindyMiami coach Erik Spoelstra fired back following today's shootaround practice over the league suspensions of Udonis Haslem (one game) and Dexter Pittman (three), especially Haslem's. "The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main games," said Spoelstra -- possibly inviting a league fine for the suggestion of favoritism. Personally I think Haslem's suspension and especially Pittman's are justified, although I also think Pacer Tyler Hansbrough also deserved to be suspended (he wasn't) after his blood-drawing foul against Dwyane Wade was upgraded from a flagrant-1 to a -2. Pittman's expulsion hardly matters. Haslem's does. With Chris Bosh already out injujred, erasing Haslem increases the chance of a Game 7, and calls into possibility the startling appearance of (yes I said it) Eddy Curry! I see Miami closing it out tonight, though. The Heat seem to bring something extra when playing angry, and Indiana most definitely has them in that mood.

LARRY BIRD'S PANIC IS SHOWING: "I can't believe my team went soft," the legendary Pacers club president 1aa1birdltold the Indianapolis Star after last night's loss here. "S-O-F-T." Does Bird (pictured) really think that? Doubt it. The Pacers certainly haven't been soft physically -- at least Udonis Haslem didn't think so when getting nine stitches or Dwyane Wade as blood trickled down his face -- although mentally Indy did seem to check out most of the second half. But I agree with LeBron James, who said of Bird's remark, "He's just trying to amp them up." When your team is down 3-2 and facing Thursday's Game 6 in Indy with top scorer Danny Granger (ankle) likely out or limited, you push any buttons you can find. And questioning your team's spine by calling your players "soft" is a pretty smart one. Desperate, too.

IS UM ANGLING FOR MOVE FROM ACC TO BIG 12?: This week at a breakfast speaking engagement on campus Texas Christian athletic director Chris Del Conte, whose school is joining the Big 12, remarked how that 1aa1big12conference almost was disbanded two years ago and "now has schools like FSU, Clemson and Miami trying to get in." Del Conte later undertook damage control clarified that he only was referring to "the rumor mill," but believers in smoke suggesting fire should take seriously that UM may be one of the ACC schools upset with revenue aspects of the recent contract with ESPN and amenable to a conference switch. The buyout to leave the ACC makes it financially doubtful, but something is going on. Through a spokesman Miami AD Shawn Eichorst had "no comment" on what Del Conte said or anything conference-related -- itself a tendril of smoke, perhaps, at least to me.

LEBRON LEADS NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM: LeBron James topped vote-getters for the league's all-defensive first team announced today. The Heat's greatest strength, and another reason why James' MVP award is richly earned, is that he is a lockdown stopper capable of defending all five positions -- and doing that in the context of playing 40-some minutes and carrying a major offensive load, too. Miami's James-led defensive might is a main reason why even a Chris Bosh-less Heat still has a shot at winning the NBA title. (Dwyane Wade also received votes, but not enough to make the second-team). Update: LeBron makes the overall All-NBA first team as top vote-getter. Wade makes the third team, narrowly edge by Russell Westbrook for second-team guard.

UPDATE: ESPN SAYS DOLPHINS WILL BE BAD FOR AWHILE: A cadre of ESPN NFL football coverers have (absurdly) come out with "projected power rankings," estimating where teams will rank entering the 2015 season. Green Bay is No. 1. Miami is rated fourth in the four-team AFC East behind the Patriots (2nd), Jets (16th), Bills (22nd) ... and then the Dolphins 28th. The consensus reasoning? You just don't know about Ryan Tannehill, and you still might not by '15.

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May 22, 2012

G5: Heat 115, Pacers 83: Miami dominates, seizes 3-2 series lead; plus Dolphin offense "a 2-minute drill," Stanton, Van Gundy, Maxim Hot 100 & more

[1) It is Wednesday, May 23. A belated but heartfelt R.I.P. for Robin Gibb, whose touching vocal on "I Started A Joke" introduced me to the Bee Gees. 2) You are invited to join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Talking Heat on ESPN today: I'll be back as a guest on ESPN's Outside The Lines this afternoon (3 p.m.) for a segment on the Heat-Pacers series. Will discuss the physicality of the series and Larry Bird calling his Pacers "soft," along with LeBron James' dominance.  

G5: HEAT 115, PACERS 83: STICK THE PROVERBIAL FORK IN INDIANA: LeBron James (30) and Dwyane Wade (28) combine for 58 points in a hard, rough, physical (somewhat dirty) game that was all Miami. Heat lead 3-2 heading back to Indiana for Game 6 Thursday, but Pacers look finished, with top players Danny Granger and David West both leaving last night's game with ankle injuries. Click It's Getting Rough In Here for my column off last night's game (and thanks for making it the most-read thing on MiamiHerald.com today). ..... Pregame: Arriving fans being handed Udonis Haslem Band-Aids designed to be worn over the eye to honor (or whatever) the nine stitches he incurred 1aa1haslemfrom a flying Pacers elbow in the last game. ....Same starting lineup tonight with Turiaf/Battier joining James/Wade/Chalmers. ..... Original post: Remember who "started it," in the parlance of the playground. Pacers coach Frank Vogel did pre-series by calling the Heat the league's worst 1aa1heatpacers"floppers," incurring a fine from the NBA. It is the fake-macho professional punk Danny Granger with a technical foul in three straight games for getting in the face of LeBron James (twice) and Dwyane Wade. It was Pacers nobody Lance Stephenson who directed a choke sign at James. It was the elbow of Pacer Lou Amundson that caused nine stitches on Udonis Haslem's forehead. The bravado has failed in a 2-2 series, with Miami maintaining home-court advantage and having two of three (if needed) left at home -- starting tonight. If anything the strategy has only angered and riled the Heat. "Whatever he's trying is not working," said James, of Granger. "It's stupid." Said Wade: "Is he out here to play basketball or out here to be a tough guy?" Meantime James -- with 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in the Game  4 win up there -- became only the second-man in NBA history with those numbers in the postseason. Elgin Baylor did it in a game in 1961. Tonight the Heat try to build on Sunday's momentum. Big games by James and Wade can be expected. The big question as always (in Chris Bosh' continued absence) is who'll be behind door No. 3? Sunday it was Haslem with 14 points including eight in the fourth quarter after that flying elbow to his eyebrow. Any volunteers for tonight?   

Heat now trail West in NBA championship odds: For the first time this postseason Miami has fallen from the NBA championship favorite to second and in some estimations third, behind West powers San Antonio and Oklahoma City. The updated top four (courtesy Bovada, as of Tuesday morning) are now the uber-hot Spurs at 8-5, Heat (9-4) and OKC (11-5) all but tied for second, and Celtics at 15-2. Longshots are Pacers 22-1 and 76ers 65-1.

DOLPHINS OFFENSE "A 2-MINUTE DRILL THE ENTIRE GAME": QB David Garrard after today's first OTA (organized team activity) full practice said of the Dolphins offense being installed, "It is basically a 2-minute drill the entire game." QB Matt Moore said of the lack of a premier receiver, "That's baloney. We've got five guys who are that guy." Meantime the latest from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is that he expects Moore will be the starting quarterback when the season starts, NFL.com reported Monday. Even though coach Joe Philbin has called it an open compettion. Is Ross trying to transmogrify into Jerry Jones? The out-front owner with opinions on everything? If I were Philbin or Jeff Ireland -- or rookie Ryan Tannehill, for that matter -- I'm not sure I'd be thrilled with my owner presenting a QB timetable and outlook in May.

1aa1stantonscorebdSTANTON AND GRAND SLAMS: Giancarlo Stanton's second grand slam of the season temporarily busted the new ballpark's LED scoreboard last night (see right). Some grand slam trivia in honor of Stanton's 438-foot missile: Most career slams, 23 by Lou Gehrig. Most in season, 6 by Don Mattingly (1987) and Travis Hafner (2006). Two in one game, 13 times, most recently by (ex-Marlin) Josh Willingham of Nationals in 2009. Only Marlin with a postseason grand slam, Devon White in NLDS vs. Giants in 1997.

ON STAN VAN GUNDY'S SACKING: Stan Van Gundy has now been on the wrong end of two of the most bizarre coaching departures in NBA history, with the sudden  "spend more time withn his family" thing in Miami in 2006, and now his Orlando ouster in the hostile takeover by Dwight Howard. I feel bad for Stan. Refreshingly honest guy and a good coach. but I also understand this is a player's league, a stars' league, and if your volatile, emotional, over-the-top, hoarse-by-halftime coaching style is rubbing your best players wrong, well, perhaps toning it down a bit is the way to go. I'm just sayin'.

KOBE ERA ENDS QUIETLY: It sure felt that way last night as Kobe Bryant's aging Lakers were eliminated in five games by younger Oklahoma City. 

1aa1alexmorganMAXIM'S HOT 100: Maxim's latest Hot 100 women list is out (here) and the top five are Bar Refaeli, Olivia Munn, Mila Kunis, Katy Perry and Olivia Wilde. The only two athletes on the list are U.S. soccer star Alex Morgan at No. 66 and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, 86th. Best news of all? Not a damned Kardashian in sight!

1aa1catbreadDEAR GREG...: "Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a cat's head stuck uncomfortably in a slice of bread. Thank you." Dear reader: I would, but PETA might get mad.

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May 19, 2012

G4: Heat 101, Pacers 93: New life for Miami as LeBron, D-Wade power huge victory; plus Dolphins MVP, I'll Have Another, Exxxotica & more

[It is Tuesday, May 22. Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Trusting LeBron and D-Wade for my column from Indianapolis off Sunsay's Heat victory.

G4: HEAT 101, PACERS 93: LEBRON, WADE LIFT MIAMI IN MUST-WIN: Heat triumph 101-93 as LeBron James (40 points, 18 rebounds) and Dwyane Wade (30 points) rise up hugely. ..... Miami trails 54-46 at half. LeBron James with 19 points, Dwyane Wade 8. ..... Juwan Howard jawing at Lance Stephenson pre-game, separated by Pacers assistant Brian Shaw. Stephenson is the Pacer who directed a choke sign at LeBron James during Game 3, later apologizing. .... Ronny Turiaf and Shane Battier join LeBron/Wade/Chalmers in today's Game 4 Heat starting lineup. ..... Original post: I love the best-of-7 1aa1heatindyseries format because every result redefines the context almost entirely, and today's Heat-Pacers Game 4 in Indianapolis is that to the extreme with Indy up 2-1. A 3-1 hole for Miami would spread panic and gloom across South Florida -- with reason. But a 2-2 series heading back to Miami would reassert the Heat's control. So all that's at stake today is, well, just about everything. It's why we love sports. I'm back in Indianapolis and this is one of those assignments it's a pleasure to cover more than feeling like work. Guessing the starting lineup will change again today and would bet Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem start. Also safe to imagine a bounceback game for Dwyane Wade after his controversial (see below) 5-point debacle in Game 3, if his left allows it. Have a feeling Miami will win. (Caveat: Thought that the last game, too). 

REACTION TO HEAT'S SITUATION A FASCINATING STUDY: Consecutive second-round NBA playoff losses have the Heat on the edge of being on the edge of the cliff, granted, but one would think Miami is 1aa1overreactionalready there -- pushed over, done, out, eliminated -- to hear and read the reaction both locally and nationally as we enter Game 4 Sunday in Indianapolis. Dwyane Wade's 5-point night on a hobbled leg Thursday led to a flash-mob debate on whether he is (suddenly) over the hill. Coach Erik Spoelstra starting Dexter Pittman at center (the decision evidence of a mental instability, perhaps?) led to a reconsideration of whether Pat Riley should swoop back in and make everything right. The cancellaton of Friday's off-day practice and media session in Indy (even though the Pacers didn't practice, either) fed ominous speculation about internal turmoil. And left a void filled by premature mediababble about how much change is in store if (when?) the Heat fail. My own Herald on Saturday gravely reported "a national perception that the Heat is on the brink of a postseason meltdown." Pause. Step back. Breathe deeply. Sunday will tell. Another loss Sunday and the avalanche of gloom and doom will be understandable. Miami truly will be on the brink. But a win Sunday and everything looks so, so much different. Then it's 2-2 heading back to Miami, order restored, the Earth back on its axis. A bounceback game by Wade in a victory and all the "meltdown" talk will seem hysterical in every sense of the word. Now all the Heat have to do is make that happen. (No pressure, guys. Have some fun out there!) In the Pacers arena fans hold up signs that state, simply, 'BELIEVE.' The question now: Do Heat fans still believe? Because it sure hasn't sounded like it lately.

Wade addresses blowup: After Saturday's Heat practice in Indy Dwyane Wade called his Game 3 outburst at coach Erik Spoelstra "emotional and in the heat of the battle," downplaying the incident but stopping short of a public apology. Wade said it wasn't the first time and won't be the last he has had heat-of-the-moment words with a coach, but called his team "a family" and said Miami has moved on and is focusing on Sunday's Game 4. Meantime Marlins manager Ozzie "Opinion On Everything" Guillen said he'd have punched a player who got in his face publicly the way Wade did with Spoelstra Thursday night. Spoelstra has publicly downplayed the controversy.

'I'LL HAVE ANOTHER' HAS ANOTHER!: Magnificent rally-run for I'll Have Another to overtake Bodemeister and win the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, giving IHA two-thirds of the Triple Crown awaiting the Belmont. Might this sport actually have its first Triple Crown horse since Affirmed in 1978? There is a chance, at least. Manna for the beleaguered Sport of Kings. Love it.

THE STATE OF THE DOLPHINS PERFECTLY STATED: Quarterback Matt Moore is named 2011 season MVP. Perfect! So the most valuable player on the team is the one player (based on the recent draft) they most wanted to replace. In other words, the Dolphins didn't really have a team MVP last season but felt like they needed to name somebody.

EXXXOTICA 2012 HITS MIAMI BEACH: Adult-film icon Ron Jeremy walked unmistakably past me in the Charlotte airport Friday and I could not help but notice how small he is. I should elaborate. I mean he is 1aa1chelseashort, really short, maybe 5-4, like a porn gnome. Anyway, seeing him reminded me that Exxxotica 2012 is going on through Sunday at the Miami Beach Convention Center. How'd you like to be part of the cleanup crew working that building come Monday? (I'm allowed to say "come Monday" because it's a Jimmy Buffett song title). This is billed as "the biggest event in the USA dedicated to love and sex" (although I might add, "not necessarily in that order"). What it is is a trade show to promote the adult film industry, which somehow has survived the Internet. Pictured is the demure Chelsea Charms, seen in an appearance at last year's Exxotica show here. Guessing her transition into non-adult films could be problematic. Also, I'm no doctor, but would imagine she has back problems.

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May 17, 2012

Defeat, anger, now silence: Heat cancel Friday practice, media session; plus rank of Dolphins' Ross among NFL owners, ESPN Hispanic strategy & more

[1) It is Saturday, May 19. Defrocked Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell signs with Jets, and Miami's best rivalry just got a shade better. 2) It's a perfect day to join us on Twitter @gregcote. Click Perfect Day to hear Lou Reed perform his magnificently sad song live. 3) R.I.P., Donna Summer, taken by cancer at 63. 4) Drinks on me if Ed Reed really retires].

Click Heat: Ice Cold & Wrong Kind Of Hot for my column from Indianapolis off Thursday's loss.  

PLOT THICKENS: HEAT CANCEL FRIDAY PRACTICE, MEDIA SESSION: The Heat canceled a scheduled early-afternoon practice yesterday in Indianapolis and subsequent media availability. It might not mean too much. After all, the pacers had the day off, too. But it is tempting to read a lot into it considering Miami is coming off a huge Game 3 loss that clearly showed signs of internal strife including Dwyane Wade (in the midst of a 5-point game) having heated words with coach Erik Spoelstra. Other media reports also indicate Udonis Haslem is upset with his diminished role in this postseason. 

G3: PACERS DOMINATE SECOND HALF, CRUSH HEAT: Indiana wins 94-75 for as 2-1 series lead as Miami is held to 32 second-half points. Mario Chalmers big with 25 points and LeBron James adds 22 but Dwyane Wade a ghost with five points on 2-for-13 shooting. ..... It's 43-43 at halftime despite Dwyane Wade with 0 points. (And despite Dexter Pittman starting at center). ..... Pregame: Coach Erik Spoelstra just said: "As we get into the game that's when we have to do reads [on lineup changes]. We have to do that more than ever now. With Chris [Bosh] out, everything is on the table. The game will dictate. We don't have a history or a long blueprint with this dynamic." There is a fine line, is there not, between adapting-as-we-go and flying by the seat of one's pants? Original post: I have just arrived in Indianapolis for tonight's Game 3 of Heat-Pacers in the NBA playoffs' second round, the teams square at 1-1. It feels 1aa1heatpacerslike (doesn't mean it is) the fulcrum game that will determine the favorite to win this best-of-7 and advance. A lot of extraneous noise followed Miami's home loss the other night, such as who took the last shot (Mario Chalmers!?) and how LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- despite their combined 52 points -- failed to come up huge in the closing minutes. Of course the more telling bottom line is that, without injured Chris Bosh, Miami looked like a two-man team with no No. 3 raising his hand and stepping forward. Chalmers? Udonis Haslem? Mike Miller? Shane Battier? Anybody? Somebody other than LeBron or Dwyane will stand up tonight or the Heat's grand championship plan will seem in jeopardy.

LEBRON AMONG 17 ATHLETES ON 100-MOST-POWERFUL-CELEBS LIST: Remember when Forbes was a serious business magazine? Now Forbes puts out lists like its latest: the 100 Most Powerful Celebrities. No. 1 overall is Dolphins-ownership-favorite Jennifer Lopez, calling into question the entire list. The slew of athletes on the list are: 12. Tiger Woods, 15. LeBron James, 27. Kobe Bryant, 31. Roger Federer, 32. David Beckham, 33. Manny Pacquiao, 40. Peyton Manning, 44. Cristiano Ronaldo, 47. Rafael Nadal, 48. Phil Mickelson, 50. Lionel Messi, 52. Floyd Mayweather, 60. Tom Brady, 63. Alex Rodriguez, 71. Maria Sharapova, 77. Serena Williams, and 87. Li Na.

DOLPHINS' ROSS LAGS 25TH AMONG NFL OWNERS: That's via biglead.com but the estimation seems reasonable, with a mention of the botched Jim Harbaugh non-hiring and the appraisal, "[Ross] seems willing to spend big, but not necessarily how to spend it." Bookending the rankings: Patriots' Robert Kraft predictably No. 1 and Browns' Randy Lerner dead last.

LE BATARD FRONTS ESPN'S HISPANIC STRATEGY:  ESPN president John Skipper in a new interview portrays Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable as a key to the network's very targeted efforts at increasing 1aa1dlhqits footprint among Hispanic viewers. Pictured: an and his father, "Papi," on the unqieu fake-kitchen set.  "We as a company need to get a higher participation by Latino viewers in the U.S.," Skipper said. "We under-index with Hispanic viewers. They are 12 to 14 percent of the population and our average show is more like 6 to 8 percent Hispanic. The LeBatard show immediately has the highest composition of any show we have among Hispanic Americans. So that show has the purpose of beginning to help Latinos understand that ESPN is for them, which is also why we are hiring more Hispanic talent. We have commercials in Spanish. We are doing a lot of La Liga games in Spanish. Given the importance of that portion of our population over the next few years, we have to embrace that, and that is what LeBatard is about."

SAINTS CONTINUE SPIRALING DOWN COMMODE: Wasn't enough that head coach Sean Payton is suspended for the year. Wasn't enough that several players are serving Bountygate suspensions. Wasn't enough that star Drew Brees is upset (very) over his contract status. No, that isn't enough turmoil. So now Jonathan Vilma (the ex-Cane) is suing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for defamation! Paper-bag time? Aints redux?    

LATEST NUDES ON BEACHES: Expedia commissioned a Harris Poll to determine which of 21 countries has the most nude-beach-friendly people. Germany led with 15 percent saying they had nudied at the beach. The U.S. tied for seventh at 2%. Most of those were probably vacationing German tourists.

1aa1gretzypaulinaWAYNE GRETZKY'S DAUGHTER: It has come to my attention that Wayne Gretzky's daughter, Paulina, is the person pictured at right in the middle, and so I pass it along for your edification on the off chance you might find yourself on Jeopardy and hear Alex Trebek reveal the category "Athletes' Hot Daughters." I would imagine that Wayne's pride over the dissemination of this photo is all but indescribable.

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May 15, 2012

Trouble visits the Heat postseason; plus battle of AFC East QB wives, J.J.'s honor, baby names & more

[It is Wednesday, May 16. R.I.P., University of Miami legend Don Mariutto, 81. 2) Just bought Jack White's Blunderbuss CD. Click Sixteen Saltines for a taste. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

G2: PACERS 78, HEAT 75: ANXIOUSLY, CAREFULLY, MIAMI ENTERS THE NO-BOSH ZONE WITH A CRUSHING HOME DEFEAT: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade with a combined 52 points and it isn't enough in the absence of injured Chris Bosh, because they other eight guys who played all pretty much stunk. Series now 1-1. Click on Here Comes Trouble for my column off the game. ..... Ronny Turiaf starting at center for Bosh. No surprise. Joel Anthony more comfy coming off bench. ..... Original post: Miami leads this second-round playoff series 1-0 but has such a lead ever felt more fragile? Heat must win at home again 1aa1heatpacerstonight or (heading to Indiana for a pair) it will feel something like the championship dream is collapsing. Click on Heat Vs. Adversity for today's latest column by me. Teams and injured players always try to 1aa1boshoutput the best face on their situation, so when Chris Bosh (pictured) all but acknowledges he wouldn't be ready to play until the next round, you wonder if even that if likely. Heat was only 4-5 without Bosh this season, but might Miami have to get past Indiana and the conference finals without him? Seems possible. And even if that happens and Miami reached the Finals sans-Bosh ... did you see how awesome Oklahoma City looked in crushing the L.A. Kobes last night! OK, deep breath. Getting ahead of ourselves. One game at a time, remember? Tonight we see how both teams compensate/adjust to the erasure of Bosh. Miami will need LeBron James/Dwyane Wade in attack mode, some 3's from Mario Chalmers/Mike Miller/Shane Battier, impact like in Game 1 from Ronny Turiaf/Joel Anthony and an appearance by a thus-far irrelevant Udonis Haslem. Heat also will need the defense we saw in the fourth quarter Sunday, especially against 7-2 Roy Hibbert. Erik Spoelstra isn't saying ahead of time but I'd bet Turiaf starts for Bosh tonight because Anthony is more comfy coming off the bench. Every game in a best-of-7 is huge but this one seems more so, like it will tell us where the series is headed.

1aa1gisellevogueURGENT GISELLE BUNDCHEN UPDATE: Dolphins fans surely will be interested to know that the wife of Patriots QB Tom Brady, model Giselle Bundchen, appears topless and sand-cheeked (right) on the 1aa1dolwifecover of the latest French Vogue. However, in a related story, the wife of new Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, Lauren (left) continues to be exceedingly cute in the perky style. "We will no longer take a back seat to any AFC East quarterback's wife in terms of hotness!" said Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland. (He didn't really say that. But wouldn't it be great if he did?)

REGGIE BUSH'S RUSHING TITLE: Dolphin Reggie Bsh says he wants to lead the NFL in rushing in 2012. I like the attitude. I don't like the chances. He'd be around 50-1 at best.

J.J. MAKES THE COLLEGE HALL: Jimmy Johnson, the 1987 UM 1aa1jjnational-championship football coach (pictured from back in the day), is one of 17 newest inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame. Well deserved, Jimmy! I covered J.J.'s 1984-88 years as a beat writer. Those were some wild days. That '86 team that lost to Penn State in the title game was (nevertheless) the single greatest college team ever in terms of NFL talent.

JACOB AND SOPHIA REIGN: Jacob continued the most popular American male baby name in 2011 for the 13th straight year, while Sophia ended Isabella's two-year reign among girls. Whatever happened to Bob and Mary? My own name, Gregory, checked in a rather embarrassed 279th. When I have time I'll look up the popularity rank of my own sons' names, Aardvark and Pinwhistle.

THE LIST: HEAT STARTING CENTERS: With Chris Bosh's injury putting the focus on the position, a sequence of Heat starting centers in season-openers through the years:

Player   Opening-night starts

Rony Seikaly   6 (1988-93)

John Salley   1 (1994)

Alonzo Mourning   5 (1995-96, '98-99, 2001)

Isaac Austin   1 (1997)

Duane Causwell   1 (2000)

Brian Grant   2 (2002-03)

Shaquille O'Neal   4 (2004-07)

Udonis Haslem   1 (2008)

Jermaine O'Neal   1 (2009)

Joel Anthony   2 (2010-11)

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May 13, 2012

Bosh out "indefinitely" as Heat down to Big 2; plus Heath Hell, R.I.P. Paul Dee & more

1aa1mom[1) It is Tuesday, May 15. Hope all you moms had a Happy Mother's Day! Pictured right: What a Mom may or may not have looked like in 1957. Favorite rap lyric involving moms: "Word to your moms, I'm here to drop bombs, I got more rhymes than the Bible's got psalms." --House of Pain. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Wade's Selfless Grace for my Sunday column on how Dwyane Wade's willingness to let this be LeBron James' team has been the quiet lynchpin of this season's championship hopes. Click Stupid Human Tricks for my Random Evidence Sunday notes column leading with Heat-Pacers and the colorful past of Indiana coach Frank Vogel.

G1: HEAT 95, PACERS 86: MIAMI RALLIES BEHIND LEBRON, D-WADE BUT BOSH HURT: Update: Heat saying today Chris Bosh is out "indefinitely," and that likely means at least there rest of this second-round series. Game post: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 61 1aa1heatpacerspoints -- 42 in the second half -- to define Miami's 95-86 triumph over Indiana in Game of the second round yesterday. Click on Shining Stars for my column off the game on how the Big 2 took over (and thanks for making it the most-read thing on all of MiamiHerald.com today). Player of the Game: James, for his 26-point second half along with season-ghigh 15 rebounds and team-leading five assists. Downer: Chris Bosh left with a lower abdominal strain and likely will miss Game 2 on Tuesday. Two quick thoughts on Bosh: 1) No the Heat are not better off without him. Not in any way imaginable. That's silly talk. 2) Curb the speculation on how long he might be out. Already hearing doomsaying about missing the rest of the playoffs. Can we wait for a diagnosis, please? ..... Original post: LeBron James collecting the NBA's MVP trophy in a program ceremony today only accentuates the David/Goliath narrative to this second-round series. It seems everybody considers Miami a 1aa1lbjmvphuge series favorite except the delusional proudly stubborn Pacers. I like the Heat in five games. Miami's offensive firepower will be too much for Indiana to overcome. Interestingly, though, the Pacers' size, physicality and low-post tendencies will call upon Miami's bigs to rise up a bit. You know LeBron and Dywane Wade will do so, but this series spots the beam on Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem down low. Think we'll see more Joel Anthony, even the return of Ronny Turiaf. Pacers have the intangibles here, the prideful nobody-respects-us incentive. The Heat has the overall talent, though, by a lot. Take talent.      

Fans call it Heat in five: I asked, you answered. How does the Heat-Pacers series end? It was 49.5 percent saying Heat in 5 games, 20.4% in 4, 20.2% in 6, 2.1% in 7, and 7.8% predicting an Indiana win. Poll analysis: A plurality on 5 sounds right, although I see 6 as likelier than a sweep. Also think the 92.2% overall for Miami sounds about right.

1aa1deepaulPAUL DEE PASSES AWAY: There is a loss today in The U family. Paul Dee, for 15 years the University of Miami's athletic director, through 2008, died Sunday. He had battled heart issues in recent years, and also cancer. I knew Paul (pictured) pretty well and thoroughly respected him both for the job he did at UM and as a kind, good man.

SHOULDN'T WE JUST CALL HIM HEATH HELL?: Giancarlo Stanton's walk-off grand 1aa1bellhellslam mean everybody left happy, but defrocked closer Heath Bell had yet another bad outing and left to loud booing. Marlins in a tough, tough spot here. Team is paying big bucks to Bell, but Ozzie Guillen is not the manager to be influenced by that. Many more failed appearances and Hell Bell could disappear into the middle reliever you hardly see, a man paid lavishly to sit in the pen, and sit, and sit.  

THE LIST: NBA MVP WINNERS: The Heat's LeBron James this week became the eighth player in NBA history to win three MVP awards. The trifectas club:

No.   Player   Team(s)   Span

6   Kareem Abdul-Jabbar   Bucks 3, Lakers 3   1971-80

5   Bill Russell   Celtics   1958-65

5   Michael Jordan   Bulls   1988-98

4   Wilt Chamberlain   Warriors 1, 76ers 3   1960-68

3   Moses Malone   Rockets 2, 76ers 1   1979-83

3   Larry Bird   Celtics   1984-86

3   Magic Johnson   Lakers   1987-90

3   LeBron James   Cavaliers 2, Heat 1   2009-12

Note: Only players with two each: Bob Pettit, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash.

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