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Vote: Could 2012 U.S. Olympians beat '92 Dream Team? (w/ poll); plus Freeh Report buries Joe Pa, America loves LeBron, TV ratings, Marlins & more

1aa1fri13th[1) It is FRIDAY, JULY 13. Convince a paraskevidekatriaphobe to leave the house and join you for lunch today, then pay the waiter to slip a fake eyeball into your friend's soup. 2) Click on The Closer for yesterday's column, on Pat Riley's influence in the Heat landing free agents Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. (If only the Marlins had a closer as effective as Riley...). 3) It was 50 years ago last night that the Rolling Stones played their first gig at London's Marquee Jazz Club. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Team USA off to good start: Team USA routed the Dominican Republic, 113-59, in its first pre-Olympics exhibition last night in Las Vegas, led by Kevin Durant's 24 points. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant had 11 combined in very limited action. Click on Dream Debate for today's latest column by me, on the debate over whether the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team could beat the '92 Dream Team. I say yes and explain. We invite your vote in the poll immediately below.

POLL: 2012 U.S. OLYMPIC BASKETBALL TEAM VS. 1992 DREAM TEAM. VOTE NOW!: The answer isn't 1aa1dreamdebateknowable, so like any cross-eras debate this poll is just for fun. The question of which team would win is in the news because Kobe Bryant said his 2012 team would beat the '92 squad, and Michael Jordan scoffed at the idea. The Big 3's for each team: Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird vs. Kobe, LeBron James and Kevin Durant. If that sounds lopsided (not to prejudice the jury), I would note that Magic and Bird clearly were past their primes in '92, which to me levels the argument and makes the answer honestly debatable. Dream Team might still be the quick/easy answer but I'm not so sure, as I explain in my latest column, now online (see link above) and in today's/Friday's paper. What do you think? Vote and say why.

U.S Olympians will lead world in funny hats -- Update!: In prior blogpost I poked fun at U.S. Olympic Committee choosing dorky French berets as headwear for American athletes in London. Now Congress is irate because the Ralph Lauren-designed uniforms were made in China!

FOOTBALL STILL RULES NATION: There might be some doubt in Greater Miami, where the Heat are as (or more) popular than the Dolphins, but nationally the NFL remains king. Latest proof is from Sports Market Watch's top 50-rated sports broadcasts of the first half of 2012. The Giants-Patriots Super Bowl is No. 1 overall with 111.3 million viewers; in fact the top 12 are all NFL. Clinching Game 5 of the Heat-Thunder NBA Finals ranks 17th with 18.4 million.

AMERICA: "WE FORGIVE YOU LEBRON. IN FACT YOU'RE OUR FAVORITE NOW!": Call Wednesday night's 20th annual ESPY Awards the symbolic completion of the reimaging of LeBron James. Fickle, front-running America's opinion of the Heat megastar has gone from Mad to Mad Love. Quick disclaimer: NBA and its stars enjoy a unfair distinct advantage in the ESPYS, because fan voting takes place just after the season has ended, when highlights and the NBA Finals are fresh in minds. Even so, it 1aa1heat2was a stunning sweep for James as he won Male Athlete of the Year, NBA Player of the Year, Championship Performer of the Year, and led the Heat to winning the big final award, Team of the Year. The Big 3 were not there in Los Angeles, although LeBron -- off training with the U.S. Olympic team -- appeared in a live thank-you video. Hilariously, the team award was accepted by Juwan Howard and Mike Miller (pictured). "We have the Big 3 and then there's the Little 12, and you see two of 'em right now," joked Howard. Those two accepting Team of the Year for the Heat would be like me accepting the Pulitzer Prize for The Miami Herald, but it was cute. Three other quick ESPY thoughts: 1) No other entity on Earth pimps itself as unabashedly as ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Self-Promotion; 2) Eric LeGrand simply would not stop talking but who has the nerve to shush a man in a wheelchair accepting a never-give-up award?; and 3) If you walked in on Baylor's Brittney Griner speaking and didn't know who she was, you'd assume from seeing and hearing her that she was a "he." I'm just sayin'.

Poll result: Sorry, Rashard. Ray's the man: We invited you in our previous blogpost to say whether Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis excited you more as a Heat free-agent signing (you can still vote), and a landslide of 87.2 1aa1raylewispercent chose Allen. (By the way, if you combine Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, do you get Ray Lewis?)

MARLINS' 'THE FRANCHISE' PREMIERE: A REVIEW: [Marlins return to post-All-Star Break action tonight at home vs. Nationals] Much of the one-hour premiere of Showtime's baseball reality series starring the Marlins felt like a replowing of plowed ground, such as Ozzie Guillen's 1aa1franchiseprofanity-laced spring training talk to his team and the Fidel Castro stuff. (The series will seem fresher elsewhere than in So-Fla, where so much of what is aired has been previously reported). Other elements seemed extraneous, such as way too much time spent on club president David Samson's charity run. What makes the concept work are the details, such as Guillen telling Marlins wives before a charity softball game: "Play better than your husbands!" Or GM Mike Hill in a staff meeting saying, "The veterans are crapping all over themselves." Focal point was Heath Bell's struggles, and his give and take with Guillen was illuminating. Guillen, Bell, Jose Reyes, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Zambrano got the most face time. Very little Hanley Ramirez. Zero Josh Johnson. Sometimes you almost wished the cameras weren't there, as when Gaby Sanchez was told he was being demoted again to Triple-A. One other quick thought: Guillen spewing F-bombs in a clubhouse has its profane charm, seeming natural to his persona and somehow softened by his thick accent. Samson in a suit using F-words in a president's office sounds, well, unprofessional.

FREEH REPORT ON PENN STATE/SANDUSKY DAMNING TO PATERNO: The investigation into the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky child rape scandal by former FBI director Louis Freeh is out; click HERE to 1aa1joepadownload it. "Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," Freeh concludes. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized." Joe Paterno (pictured) is named as one of four leaders who "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well being of Sandusky's victims until after [his] arrest." The world now knows Sandusky, convicted of 45 counts of serial child abuse, is a creep of the worst order. But this new report leaves little doubt about the gravity and extent of Paterno's looking the other way -- a tacit approval that allowed for more victims over many years. The legacy and name of the late Joe Pa won't ever be the same.

1aa1heads2 1aa1headsTHE BEST NEWSPAPER HEADLINES...: ...are the ones that have a double entendre, and leave you to wonder if the headline writer meant that or not. Like these two headlines.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...