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18 posts from February 2013

February 27, 2013

Do you root for Tiger Woods? Poll. Vote!; plus LeBron saves the dunk!, Jared Odrick goes Hollywood, Tony Bennett, Loria's poll record & more

1aa1coteotlESPN's OTL on Loria: Thanks again to ESPN for having us on Outside The Lines for yesterday's segment on Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria. (I'm second-from-left on the screengrab here -- the guy who looks like he doesn't belong on TV). Behind-curtain tidbit: Club president David Samson also was a guest and we taped at same studio in different rooms, and spoke cordially before and after. He doesn't take personally my professional criticism, which I respect.

[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28. Always a test to see how teams respond after loss, and No. 5-ranked Hurricanes men did it very well last night in beating Virginia Tech. 2) I am now following my latest crush @emmyrossum. I get to admit that because my wife doesn't read anything I write, which has its advantages. 3) Can you imagine being next Pope and having Benedict still living in the Vatican? Be like if Barack refused to leave White House. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Loria letter/outtakes/poll, Heat hit stride, Canes football/hoops, Oscars, celeb diving, giant prosthetic feet. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Fabulous February for today's latest column by me, on the huge month for the Heat, for LeBron James and, less noticed, for a revitalized Dwyane Wade.

TIGER IS AMONG US. ARE WE ROOTING FOR HIM AGAIN?: A little over three years ago, late November 2009, Tiger Woods' world blew up when the expose of his serial infidelity ruined his marriage and 1aa1tigerjackimage. It may have contributed to seriously damaging his career, too, considering his career majors have been stuck at 14 since the 2008 U.S. Open. Once he seemed a cinch to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, now there are doubts whether Woods, now 37, ever will. The kings of golf's zoo, the Golden Bear and Tiger, are pictured. Are you rooting for Tiger to pass Jack? I sort of am. His post-scandal contrition was a model for guys like Lance Armstrong, anyone caught in a lie, to follow. I think his image is largely repaired and that, in the midst of his majors slump, he has become what he never was before: an underdog. A comeback story. Tiger begins play today/Thursday in the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens as the PGA Tour's So-Fla swing begins. His next majors shot, The Masters, is fast approaching. Share your thoughts on Tiger in this poll, and say why you feel as you.

DOLPHINS' ODRICK GOES HOLLYWOOD: Dolphins defender Jared Odrick is one of 22 current and ex-1aa1jodrickplayers enrolled in second annual "NFL Pro Hollywood Boot Camp" taking place March 11-15 at Universal Studios in L.A. It's a league initiative designed to offer a crash course for players pondering post-football career related to film industry. Odrick is pictured looking camera-ready.

LEBRON: PREGAME SHOWTIME WILL GO ON!: [Thursday update: LeBron announces detractors will not deter his pregame dunks. OHTHANKGOD!] Original post: LeBron James' pregame dunking during warmups have 1aa1dunkbecome must-see for Heat fans; click HERE to watch one of Tuesday night's. James had enough energy left over to score 40 points and lead Miami's double-OT win over Sacramento for a 12th straight victory. (Dwyane Wade added 39 points). But LeBron now is threatening to quit his pregame throwdowns because many on Twitter are slamming him for doing this yet declining to participate in the NBA All-Star dunk contest. "Maybe I should stop because it's making a lot of people mad," he said after last night's game. "They're like, well, if you can do it in warmups why don't you be in the dunk contest. Stop it." Yes, stop it, please. And enjoy.

HEAT BIG 5 @ 55: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially the nerdy-stat variety and so we started this one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's top-five cumulative 1aa1heat5ranking of players having the biggest overall impact based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 55 Games (41-14):

Rank (@50)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   2,123.6

2 (2)   Dwyane Wade   1,476.6

3 (3)   Chris Bosh   1,272.8

4 (4)   Mario Chalmers   832.0

5 (5)   Ray Allen   817.2

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 554.3

Poll result: Anti-Loria sentiment sets record: You know our blog loves polls. Done hundreds of them. But none quite like this. We asked if you wished Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would sell the team -- yes or no (you may still vote in blogpost directly below this) -- and 97.6 percent said yes. No other question we have ever posed has gotten such a landslide.

ON THE LEGENDARY TONY BENNETT: Wife and I saw crooner Tony Bennett at the Broward Center for the Perfoming Arts last night, and he was great. I'm grading somewhat on the curve. He's 86, after all. But he was still great, in some ways all the more impressive because of his age, not despite it. I love 1aa1bennettseeing aging, legendary music artists I have not seen before, and am happy to have added Bennett to a long list that includes Count Basie, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. Bennett was in such fine voice that even showed it off by setting down his mic and singing half a song a capella. He'd just bragged about the acoustics of the hall, and sure enough his unamplified voice was strong and carried. I do have a few nitpicks (or it wouldn't be me). The opening act was Bennett's middle-aged adult daughter (groan), and she performed six songs, which was about three too many. (They later dueted on one). l don't mind a father showcasing his daughter, but too much of her meant tnot enough him; Bennett himself performed only about 50 minutes. I also wished he hadn't abbreviated just about every song including his signature tune, I Left My Heart in San Francisco. He omitted the entire preamble that leads into the title words, on the one song most in the audience wished was longer, not shorter. Afterward, Bennett came out for a few curtain calls but did not play an encore. Despite the minor disappointments it was a great show by a true American original -- after Frank Sinatra probably the greatest singer of his generation and genre.

TEEN EATS DEODORANT: A 19-year-old young woman revealed on the "My Strange Addiction" TV show that she eats deodorant. I have nothing to add but this link.

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February 25, 2013

Do you wish Loria would sell Marlins? Tell him. Poll. Vote!; plus 10 behind-scenes outtakes from Loria-Samson meeting, Canes, Heat, Oscars & more

Radio Tuesday!: Tuesday means I'm back in-studio today with Le Batard and Stugotz on 790 The Ticket/FM 104.3 starting at 3. Ears welcome.

1aa1fats[1) It is TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26. Happy 85th birthday to New Orleans legend Fats Domino (pictured). Chubby Checker tried to borrow his name and sound but there was and is only one Fats. Click HERE for his unmistakable signature song. 2) Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona  500 but Danica Patrick won much respect with her eighth-place finish off the pole position. She is a huge shot in the arm for NASCAR. 3) Speaking of women, I think I could beat up Ronda Rousey. Not really. I just like to annoy UFC fans. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On LeBron James maybe leaving next year, Canes lose, kvetching Perfectos, Marlins' young talent. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

"I'm a little worried about my weight. You know how Life of Pi was a big Oscar winner? I'll be starring in Life of Pie." -- Greg Cote

JEFFREY LORIA'S STUNNING LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS. (OR COULD IT BE THAT HE JUST DOESN'T GIVE A S--- WHAT FANS THINK?): On behalf of the newspaper industry I'd like to thank Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria for Sunday's full-page "Letter To Our Fans" ad that ran on page 21A of 1aa1jefflThe Miami Herald and also in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post. We all can use the revenue. As for the content of the letter? That was combative, found Loria blaming everyone but himself for his abysmal public image, and left most fans I've talked to or heard from just shaking their heads. Loria just doesn't get it. "Something needed to be done," he writes. OK, but did that mean gutting the roster? Did that mean paring the payroll back to embarrassing meagerness? "Acquiring high-profile players just didn't work," he writes. Because you didn't acquire the right ones, perhaps. So go out and get better ones, don't scrap the entire higher-payroll philosophy after one stinkin' year. That higher payroll, by the way, was an assurance Loria made in order to get that new ballpark built. It was a public trust he has broken. It was something unaddressed in that self-serving open letter. It was not unaddressed last evening when I and other media meet with Loria for the first time in months. Take our poll, and see more on last night's Loria meeting just below the poll.

LORIA AT THE DIAMOND CLUB: THE OUTTAKES: Jeffrey Loria, club president David Samson and a few other Marlins officials met with a select group of media including myself last evening at Marlins Park. Click on Owner In Denial for my latest column, filed following that meeting. Included is Loria's reaction to the poll results directly above. Here are some outtakes from the Loria-Samson meeting, things that 1aa1asteriskwouldn't fit or didn't belong in the column: 1. I asked Samson directly if it wasn't accurate that the stadium was built on the promise of higher payrolls. He called that "accurate with an asterisk," saying, "We miscalculated" the revenue. 2. Samson said paid attendance was 2.2 million in year one of the new park but that the actual turnstile count was 1.4 million. 3. Samson said 1aa1eiffelthe tone of Loria 's open letter, perceived as combative, was partly a reaction to the "constant personal pounding" his boss has taken. 4. Samson on Giancarlo Stanton's future: "It takes two people to sign a long-term deal." In other words, no amount of money will keep Stanton if he wants out. 5. Loria and Stanton were in Europe at the same time recently and the owner invited the player to dinner at the Eiffel Tower and said they had a wonderful time. I think it might take the Eiffel Tower to re-sign Stanton. 6. Loria's new PR 1aa1jeffreyfirm happens to be called Jeffrey Group, named after its founder, not Loria. The firm specializes in Latin America and U.S. Hispanics, an indication of markets the Marlins want to hit hard. 7. Loria labeled as a "smear campaign" the Dolphins' effort to win public funding for stadium improvements by putting the Marlins' ballpark deal in an unfavorable light. 8. Loria said Jose Reyes was "inaccurate" in saying Loria advised him 1aa1fusciato buy a home in Miami two days before he was traded. 9. Loria: "It's not a fire sale. It's called hit the restart button." 10. Finally, apropos of nothing, the fastidious Samson selects what to wear from a prearranged order of clothes. Monday evening his socks were a pinkish red. "Maybe fuscia," he said. I'm not sure Samson is a great club president. But he is an interesting person.

HEAT HITTING REPEAT-LEVEL STRIDE: Miami ran its victory streak to a season-best 11 games Sunday and 1aa1dwadeDwyane Wade lately is looking like the pre-LeBron dominator he was. We assume LeBron's nightly MVP-caliber output, but Wade showing he can still reach those elite levels is nourishing news. National media continue to harp on Heat's lack of size and insufficient rebounding, but I see a confident, championship team priming itself for a repeat run.

Poll result: Support for LeBron even if he left next year: I wrote an unpopular column on the likelihood from my view that LeBron James will return to Cleveland after next season, with a companion blog poll. I asked how you'd feel if that happened and 38.5 percent said they'd be positive and not begrudge him, vs. only 17.4% who said they'd see him as turning his back on the Heat. Another 25.7% said mixed feelings or didn't want to think about it yet, and 18.4% said the answer was to be determined by results this season and next.

HURRICANES FOOTBALL, MEN'S BASKETBALL: Football: UM completes its 2013 schedule. The seven home games are Aug. 30--FAU; Sep. 7--Florida; Sep. 21--Savannah State; Oct. 5--Georgia Tech; Oct. 26--Wake Forest; Nov. 9--Virginia Tech; and Nov. 23--Virginia. The five road games are Sep. 28--USF; Oct. 17--North Carolina; Nov. 2--FSU; Nov. 16--Duke; and Nov. 29--Pittsburgh. Men's basketball: Canes fall in polls: Miami dips from No. 2 to No. 5 in the latests Associated Press poll. The drop is to 7 in the USA Today coaches' poll and to 8 in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, all following the weekend loss at Wake Forest. The AP drop is pretty modest, and that's still the Big Daddy poll.

1aa1dresses"WHO ARE YOU WEARING!?": This one question, asked of an actress on a red carpet, embodies much of what the rest of the world both envies and hates about America. The excess and ostentatiousness. The celebrity-worship so absurdly out of control there actually might be avid interest in what designer made Janie Pretend's gown. What a hoot! That's what made last night's Oscars so much fun. Hollywood needsa big female superstar who won't play along, who when asked "Who are you wearing" answers "Target" and then rails against the question. Found it intersting that Argo won Best Picture. Just saw it. Liked it. Didn't love it, or think it was transcendental in the way you hope Oscar champs might be. Quick aside for my right-leaning readers always needling me about my (apparent) left-leaning tendencies: the late video intrusion of First Lady Michelle Obama was spectacularly unnecessary and quite ridiculous.

LATEST AWFUL IDEA FOR TV SHOW: CELEBRITY DIVING!: God I wish I were kidding, but ABC in March 1aa1greglwill premiere Splash, a new reality show in which ex-Olympian Greg Louganis (pictured) judges 10 celebrity divers. (No, seriously!) The show has a screwball chance because half of the contestants will be curvy young women in swimsuits, including Miss Alabama Katherine Webb. (At least we know Brent Musberger will be watching). Divers also will include Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- Huh? Whu!? -- Ndamukong Suh and Louie Anderson. Counting on the latter two for cannonballs.

1aa1carrey"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a picture of Jim Carrey wearing giant prosthetic feet to Elton John's Oscars party. Thank you." Hmm. No promises, but let me see what I can do.

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Live Blog Q&A/Chat has ended; next chat March 4

Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 21 has ended: Click into the 'Comments' section below for a transcript of today's palaver. Join us next week. Thanks again.

February 22, 2013

How to feel about LeBron if leaves next year? Poll. Vote!; plus Canes finally lose, Jay Z/Timberlak, Shalala, Marlins, kvetching Perfectos & more

1aa1jayz[1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24. New blogpost coming Monday morning. Meantime, It's Oscar NIght! That's big in my house, because my wife says it is. 2) Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's 12-city summer stadium show will be coming to Dolphins stadium on Aug. 16, the grand finale of the tour. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): War! UM vs. NCAA, hot Heat, FAU and prisons, Dolphins free agency, Marlins odds, Ron Fraser celebration. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Random Evidence for today's latest wisea-- Sunday notes column by me. Lead item: Roaring women. Ronda Rousey-Liz Carmouche headline UFC 157, Danica Patrick on Daytona 500 center stage. 

HOW WILL WE FEEL WHEN LEBRON LEAVES US?: The recent column by me (click The Long Goodbye to read) wasn't popular with a lot of people, especially Heat fans, because it discusses what they'd rather 1aa1lebcle 1aa1lebmianot consider -- let alone during a win streak that reached 10 games last night. Yet this to me is on a scale from very possible to downright likely: LeBron James opting out of his contract after next season and returning to Cleveland. LeBron himself invited the speculation by saying last year it would be great to play for Cleveland fans again. Since then he helped Miami win a title and the Cavaliers drafted superstar-to-be Kyrie Irving, whom LeBron raved about during the recent All-Star break. This week one of James' loudest critics, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's Bill Livingston, wrote a fence-mending column saying LeBron should and would be welcomed back. It's conjecture, of course; Miami will try very hard to re-sign LeBron. But the idea of losing him is real enough to spawn this poll. Vote, say why and click back often to monitor the evolving vote. Early results suggest this one could be interesting.

Poll result: Landslide backs Shalala over NCAA: OK, OK. I should have known. I'm a Miami blog, after all. But, still. I could ask if you prefer love or hate and not get a landslide like this. We asked who's more right: NCAA president Mark Emmert pressing the case against Miami, or UM prez Donna Shalala saying no more punishment is deserved. And it was Shalala by 94.1 percent to 4.1%, with 1.8% undecided.

NO. 2 CANES FINALLY LOSE: The 14-game win streak is over. So is the unbeaten ACC record. So, likely, is the No. 2 ranking. Miami lost yesterday at Wake Forest, 80-65. It seemed as if the Canes were due a stumble after several last-second miracle wins.

THE OLD '72 PERFECTOS ARE AT IT AGAIN: It has become a South Florida tradition: The 1972 Perfect 1aa1buonSeason Dolphins assigning themselves proprietary rights to watch over what has become of their franchise and, mostly, it seems, to b---- and moan about the sorry state of it. The latest: Former linebacker Nick Buoniconti (pictured), a Notre Dame alum, on a soapbox instructing the Dolphins to draft Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert with the 12th overall pick (even though most draftniks have Eifert going much lower). Dear Nick: I know that GM Jeff Ireland is not held in high regard by many Dolfans, but I think in this case they'd probably go ahead and trust his judgment over that of a 72-year-old former player who last played 37 years ago and is out pimping for a fellow Irish alum.

MARLINS' YOUNG TALENT: The good side of a fire sale is the infusion of young prospects. The Marlins have six in Baseball America's new Top 100: RHP Jose Fernandez (5th), OF Christian Yelich (15th), LHP Andrew Heaney (43rd), OF Jake Marisnick (64th), OF Marcell Ozuna (75th) and LHP Justin Nicolino (86th). Look for Fernandez and Yelich to get late-season callups this year and be factors by 2014.

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February 20, 2013

War! UM vs. NCAA. Shalala vs. Emmert. Poll. Vote!; plus Heat make trade, FAU and prisons, Dolphins, Marlins, Lena Dunham, Ron Fraser & more

1aa1dunhamlena[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21. My latest guilty pleasure is the HBO series 'Girls' and its star, Lena Dunham (pictured). The show is what we used to call a chick-flick and Lena is few guys' idea of classic-sexy, but I find both very appealing. 2) Giancarlo Stanton got beaned on the helmet by a fastball yesterday at spring training and walked away as if a marshmallow had hit him. That kid might be our biggest, strongest, most imposing pro athlete after LeBron James. 3) Thanks to ESPN for having us on Outside The Lines this week to discuss the UM/NCAA developments. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Hurricane Donna" Shalala blasts NCAA, Canes win again, Lil Wayne's war on Heat, Fixing NBA All-Star Weekend, Dolphins, yelling goats. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

My new column: NCAA buffoonery casts UM as sympathetic victim: Click on headline to access. Column is online and in Thursday's inky pulp editions.  

"HURRICANE DONNA" TAKES GLOVES OFF VS. NCAA, BUT WHO'S RIGHT?: U-Miami president Donna Shalala said, "We have suffered enough," after a 2-year NCAA investigation in the Nevin Shapiro case that led to significant self-imposed penalties such as a two-year football postseason ban. She calls for no 1aa1donna 1aa1donna2additional penalties and I agree, factoring in not only the self-imposed sanctions but the shady reputation of the accuser and the NCAA's own well-documented and major internal wrongdoing that tainted the investigation. These are extraordinary circumstances for which there is no template. But NCAA president Mark Emmert disagreed with Shalala and pushed forward with a Notice of Allegations that likely will result in yet-unknown additional sanctions. Who's right? I hestitated with this poll because I try not to post questions for which I think I know the answer. Then again, around 50 percent of our poll votes typically come from outside Florida; it isn't as if only Canes fans will be voting. There also is a fair argument on either side and some gray area. For example, though I agree with Shalala, I could see UM getting very minor added sanctions, perhaps. Anyway, cast your vote and say why you did.

HOT HEAT MAKE MINOR DEADLINE-DAY TRADE: Heat today traded reserve/D-League center Dexter Pittman and a 2013 second-round draft pick to Memphis for rights to center Ricky Sanchez, currently playing in Argentina. It's unlike Sanchez ever will play for Miami. Deal was done to open a roster spot for Heat to add a veteran big man, possibly Kenyon Martin. Meantime, the Heat played a home game in Atlanta last night based on what it sounded like, and Miami made it a season-best eight wins in a row, staying hot as play resumed after the break. LeBron James was held to only 24 points. The bum!

OWLCATRAZ: FAU ALIGNS WITH CONTROVERSIAL PRISON COMPANY: This might have been a feel- 1aa1geogood story: FAU selling naming rights to its Owls football stadium to GEO Group, a locally based company that privately runs prisons. It begged humor. Call the stadium Owlcatraz. Call coach-emeritus Howard Schnellenberger "The Warden." Put the cheerleaders in vertical stripes and the mascot in a county-issue orange jumpsuit. Stuff like that. The problem is GEO Group is controversial for abuses and treatment at its prisons, spawning outrage such as is reflected in the cartoon pictured. I have doubts whether this deal will stand because of the objection to it. I have doubts whether a public university should align itself with a notorious company that has the attention of human-rights and immigration-rights groups.

DOLPHINS ON FREE AGENCY, DRAFT: On free-agency: GM Jeff Ireland from the NFL Combine in Indianapolis today said re-signing DT Randy Starks was a priority, leaving the impression the franchise tag might be considered for him. He said team wants RB Reggie Bush back but at the right price. Said they want OT Jake Long back too but implied that injury concerns limit the price they'll pay. On the draft: Our fly-on-the-wall Dolphins front-office source (who will not appreciate being referred to as a fly) tells us Miami likely will not draft a receiver at No. 12 because the plan is to re-sign Brian Hartline and hard-pursue Mike Wallace in free agency. Mel Kiper and others keep pushing Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson but Dolphins consider him a project and want right-now impact. Offensive line is likelier with the top pick because the draft is very deep there and because chances of retaining Long are very iffy. Pass-rush help or a trade-down also are options being mulled.

ODDSMAKERS HAVE MARLINS SKIRTING 100-LOSS SEASON: Latest World Series odds via Bovada have Blue Jays the pick at 7-1, then Tigers 8-1, Dodgers and Nationals both 17-2 and Angels 9-1. Miami is 100-1, tied for next-to-last ahead of only the 200-1 Astros. Victory over/unders have Marlins at 63.5, a nice way of saying 98.5 losses. (Odds for upcoming World Baseball Classic have USA a 5-2 favorite, followed by Dominican Republic at 13-4 and Japan 7-2).

1aa1frasertribRON FRASER CELEBRATION OF LIFE: It'll be Saturday at the Knight Sports Complex on campus marking the great life of the former UM baseball coach who died last month at 79. The event is from 4-6 p.m. and free; doors open at 3. That night's 7 p.m. home baseball game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee also will be in Ron's honor.

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February 19, 2013

Canes win again as UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations; plus Lil Wayne vs. Heat, fixing NBA All-Stars, Dolphins, goats & more

ESPN Outside The Lines on UM/NCAA case today: I'll be among guests on the show starting at 3 p.m. Please watch anyway.

[1) It is WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron schools Michael, Canes win again, Battier tops Wade, Stanton, Cristobal, Robbie Rogers. 2) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Canes win again; UM receives NCAA Notice of Allegations: No. 2-ranked UM men's basketball wins at home last night over Virginia, 54-50, the key play a late Reggie Johnson layup off a Shane Larkin pass. Meantime The U received its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA in the Nevin Shapiro probe and now has three months to officially respond. Allegations include a "lack of institutional control" against UM, as expected. "We have suffered enough," said UM president Donna Shalala. (More on that below). On the brighter side, Jim Larranga's Canes are in a dead heat for national-championship favorites. According to latest Bovada odds, Forida Gators are a slight pick at 5-1, a sliver ahead of Miami and Indiana both at 11-2. Then it's Michigan 15-2 and Duke 9-1. But that was before Florida's latest loss.

NCAA ADMITS WRONGDOING BUT PRESSES ON AGAINST UM, IS BLASTED BY SHALALA: Well, damn, this is getting interesting! The external review of the NCAA's unethical botchery of the UM probe came 1aa1donnasout yesterday and was damning. Turns out investigators went ahead and paid Nevin Shapiro's attorney to improperly obtain info via depositions even though the NCAA's own staff counsel explicitly said not to. Also turns out the NCAA has paid thousands to provide Shapiro a cell phone. Click on Full Report for the 52-page review. NCAA President Mark Emmert -- who seeks outs wrongdoing in colleges when his own organization is corrupted -- said he'll move forward toward a Notice oif Allegations against UM, prompting university President Donna Shalala (pictured) to sharply call for an end to this case with no further punishment beyond what the school already has self-imposed. She is right. Click on UM Has Paid, Now Punish NCAA for Tuesday's latest column by me.

Cristobal leaves UM for 'Bama: Former FIU coach Mario Cristobal, hired Jan. 10 by UM as an assistant, is leaving five weeks later for Alabama and Nick Saban's staff, as offensive line coach. The move is unfortunate for the Canes and Al Golden but not a big surprise. Cristobal wants to be a head coach again as soon as possible and felt a national-championship staff would be his best springboard. Hard to argue.

LIL WAYNE DROPS F-BOMBS ALL OVER MIAMI HEAT: Glad to see everybody else is catching up to what you read here first on MiamiHerald.com. The original post: "F--- the Heat, f--- LeBron, f--- She-Wade and I f---ed Chris Bosh wife." That is what rapper Lil Wayne said to a crowd during NBA All-Star Weekend at a 

1aa1carterbirthday celebration for fellow Young Money rapper Birdman, according to Tweets sent out by two attendees, MTV's Shaheem Reid and Karen Civil. It happened during Wayne's performance at Houston's packed Stereo Live club early Monday morning following the game. Click HERE for a brief video, but be warned it's profane. The diatribe does not surprise. Hip-hop and sports do not intersect any more than in the NBA, and Lil Wayne vs. the Heat has become a rather bizarre offshoot. This is an escalation of Lil Wayne's all-but-declared war on the Heat. The hostility began when Weezy felt disrespected because James and Wade did not acknowledge him courtside during a game. It intensified when Weezy claimed he was ejected from the recent game vs. the Lakers here in which he was rooting for L.A.; the Heat said he eft voluntarily. Now the rapper claims he has been banned from all NBA games and events -- at Miami's orchestration. Here's guessing that, once again, Lil Wayne will not be a featured speaker at the Heat's next championship parade.

HOW TO FIX NBA ALL-STAR WEEKEND: For me the most compelling snippet of the NBA's showcase weekend in Houston was late in the All-Star Game itself Sunday, when Kobe Bryant decided to get serious (and personal) with LeBron James, defending him hard and even blocking his shot. It looked like something otherwise unseen in the game: Intensity. Real basketball. Step 1 for fixing All-Star Weekend: Make the game matter. Make it into an actual competition rather than a track-meet/dunk-fest/Globetrotters impersonation where the over/under on total points is always around 285 and it is understood nobody bothers with defense. Have some incentive to win. Could be a charity thing. Could be an extra draft-pick for the winning conference's teams; a de-facto "third round" for half the league. I understand the game is a break for these guys. I'm not saying it should be all-out. But let's find a happy medium somewhere between playoff intensty and the farce it is now. Step 2: Streamline, streamline, streamline. There now are six official all-star events, which is three too many. Pare it back to the game itself, the slam-dunk contest and the 3-point competition. That's it. Sorry, retired players and celebrity-rappers. Step 3: Put players in the slam-dunk contest that fans actually want to watch. This used to be big, remember? An event. It was the NBA equivalent of the Home Run Derby. Now it sucks. It sucks because star dunkmasters want nothing to do with it. Find a way to get the superstars back in it. Because we'd all rather watch LeBron dunk, no matter how good Terrence Ross might be. Step 4: This is important. Make sure all arena personnel in every All-Star city have a photo of diminutive actor/comedian Kevin Hart, so that if he attempts to get in the building -- let alone get on the air -- he might be stopped.

DOLPHINS AND FREE AGENCY: Ravens QB Joe Flacco tops a new ESPN.com list of top 50 NFL free agents. Dolphin pending FAs on it are OT Jake Long (9th), WR Brian Hartline (31st) and DT Randy Starks (36th). Top-rated WRs, a Miami target area, are Greg Jennings (3rd), Wes Welker (6th), Dwayne Bowe (7th), Victor Cruz (13th) and an underrated Mike Wallace (14th). Top-rated CB is Brent Grimes (11th).

1aa1goatGOATS SCREECHING, YELLING LIKE HUMANS: Guess that headline about says it all. Click HERE to watch/listen. 

HEAT BIG 5 @ 50: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially the nerdy-stat variety and so we started this one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals. It's top-five cumulative 1aa1heat5ranking of players having the biggest overall impact based on eight statistical categories. The numbers themselves might not mean much but the numbers relative to each other give an indication of the contribution players are making. The Big 5 @ 50 Games (36-14):

Rank (@45)   Player   Total

1 (1)   LeBron James   1,916.4

2 (2)   Dwyane Wade   1,315.9

3 (3)   Chris Bosh   1,180.0

4 (5)   Mario Chalmers   740.7

5 (4)   Ray Allen   734.6

Bubble: Udonis Haslem, 497.8

1aa1ebert"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a vintage picture of a young Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom in 1969. Thank you." Yep here it is, courtesy of Bill Lucey's newspaperalum.com.

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February 18, 2013

Live Blog Q&A/Chat has ended; next chat: Feb. 25

Live Blog Q&A/Chat No. 20 has ended: Click into the 'Comments' section below for a transcript of today's Chat. We do it every Monday 1-2 p.m. See you next week.

February 17, 2013

Miracle Canes win again!; plus LeBron schools Jordan, Battier tops Wade, Giancarlo's smart play, Robbie Rogers' gayness & more

1aa1hardaway[1) It is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17. Ex-Heater Tim Hardaway (pictured), eligible for first time, is one of 12 finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame. I had doubts he was a first-ballot guy but think he'll make it because only Gary Payton (who ended his career with Miami) outshines him on ballot. 2) I get the feeling these allegations against Ryan Braun are going to end badly for him. His previous test-positive for PEDs, though overturned on a technicality, makes it tougher to believe his link to Miami's Biogenesis clinic is innocent. 3) Note: Our Heat Big 5@50 feature will appear as play resumes following the All-Star break. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron vs. Michael poll, UM hoops, Dolphins logo, D-Wade's socks, Marco Rubio, kangaroos. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Click on Random Evidence my today's latest Sunday notes column, leading with (what else?) the wonder of LeBron.

Soon-to-be No. 2-ranked Miracle Canes win again!: Tonight it was a 45-43 last-minute triumph at Clemson, a tough place to play, and the nature of the win underlined the fateful feel of this season for the No. 3-ranked Canes. Miami needed a late three-point shot from Kenny Kadji and a beneficial/debatable charging call against Clemson to rally from four down. UM is now 12-0 in the ACC with a 13th straight win. Amazing. Canes will rise to No. 2 in the polls on Monday.  

ALL NET: LEBRON SHOOTS DOWN THE RING OBSESSION: Michael Jordan has won six championships. If you don't believe it, just ask him. He apparently is the mayor of the rings-are-the-thing wing of judging

1aa1kingwho's 1aa1allstarthe best in sports. Thus he said Kobe Bryant trumps LeBron James because five (rings) is better than one. "Right on!" agreed Magic Johnson in a Tweet, or words to that effect. Well, it's nonsense and the only people who don't seem to know it are the athletes whose self-worth seems fundamentally rooted in the number of rings they possess. Miami is particularly unreceptive to this thinking, in that we are home to perhaps the greatest player in any sport to not have a ring (Dan Marino), and are somewhat resistent to the idea that, say, Trent Dilfer is in any way greater because he does. LeBron gave voice to this lunacy Friday from NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston, in addressing Jordan's statement. He noted, reasonably, fairly, that Bill Russell's 11 rings does not mean he is "greater" than Jordan. He noted, with a bull's-eye, that greats like Charles Barkley never won a ring while passengers such as Jud Buechler (a miniscule reserve on Jordan's Bulls) did. Rings do not or at least should not define an athlete. All-round individual excellence and dominance in one's era should. By that standard, LeBron stands with anyone, anytime.

Poll result: Surprise! Take LeBron now over Jordan in his prime: Few of our poll results surprise me, but this did. A clear majority of 64.1 percent said they'd rather have LeBron James on their team right now than Michael Jordan in his prime. Yes, Heat fans surely read this blog in greater number than other teams' fans. Yet the percentage favoring LeBron was only slightly higher (66.4%) in the state of Florida, where a greater percentage of Heat fans might be assumed.

BATTIER BEATS WADE AT SOMETHING: ESPN.com lists its Top 75 Players in NCAA Tournament History to mark that event's 75th anniversary, and the Heat's Shane Battier (Duke) ranks 34th to Dwyane Wade's (Marquette) 65th. Battier averaged 22.5 points/10.2 rebounds for the 2001 champions and was Final Four MVP; Wade had a triple-double vs. Kentucky in the regional final to get his team to the Final Four. The list's top five: Lew Alcindor (UCLA), Bill Walton (UCLA), Christian Laettner (Duke), Bill Russell (San Francisco) and Magic Johnson (Michigan State). Other notables include Glen Rice (Michigan) 20th, Isiah Thomas (Indiana) 22nd, Joakim Noah (Florida) 47th, and Michael Jordan (North Carolina) 57th.

1aa1gstantonSTANTON'S SMART GRACIOUSNESS: As Marlins players reported Friday for the full start of spring training Giancarlo Stanton had his pulpit to rehash his disappointment if he chose. To decry the latest fire-sale as he had when it happened a few months ago. Instead Stanton showed maturity and leadership, said he had "turned the page" and would not be "pouting." Traded-away Jose Reyes, now a Blue Jay, regurgitated his disappointment on Friday and said he "felt sorry" for Stanton, but Stanton had the perfect response. "Why?" he said. "I'm in the big leagues. I play a game for a living." Stanton's stance serves him well as the face of the franchise. Nobody wants another Hanley Ramirez in terms of attitude. Pragmatically, Stanton's professional approach also will impress other teams who'll try to pry him from the Marlins. Here's hoping they fail. It's a long-shot that Miami and Stanton would agree on a long-term contract extension, largely because of Jeffrey Loria, but that hope is a lot of what Marlins fans have to hang onto right now.

ON CRISTOBAL'S UM FUTURE: Newly hired Hurricanes assistant Mario Cristobal interviewing for Alabama's O-line job surprised no one at UM, least of all Al Golden. A source on the staff tells us Cristobal made it very clear in taking the job that he wants another head-coaching position as soon as possible, and knows that won't be at Miami if Golden's committment is as solid as it seems. Cristobal seeks a stepping stone, and being on Nick Saban's championship staff is about the best place for any upwardly mobile assistant to be.

ROBBIE ROGERS LEAVES SPORTS STILL WANTING, AND WAITING: Former U.S. National Team 1aa1rrogersmidfielder Robbie Rogers said this week he is gay and that he is retiring from soccer, at age 25. Good for him for his honesty. The essence of a person, which includes one's sexuality, is bigger than one's occupation, and a person should come out on his own terms and timetable. Sports is still waiting, though, for the first major American team-sport athlete to reveal himself as gay while still an active player. Particular bravery will be required. To make the revelation in a post-career autobiography or upon retiring is fine, but the first athlete to take this stand in mid-career will be heroic in terms of breaking down barriers and fomenting acceptance. Who will it be? And when?

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February 14, 2013

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James. Poll. Vote!; plus new Dolphins logo, what makes Canes most remarkable, Marco Rubio, D-Wade's new socks & more

1aa1dear[1) It is FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15. How was your Valentine's Day? 2) Truly shocking: South African paralympian Oscar "Blade Runner" Pistorius charged with murder in death of his girlfriend. 3) Note: Our Heat Big 5@50 feature will appear as play resumes following the all-star break. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Football Town/Basketball Town poll, Banana Joe, McKeon for Pope, Obama. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

Heat win again; LeBron scores 39: Miami wins at Oklahoma City last night, 110-100, in possible NBA Finals rematch preview. LeBron James' 39 points pushes to seven his streak of games with 30-plus.

1aa1compMICHAEL VS. LEBRON MORE COMPLICATED THAN JUST A STATS COMPARISON: Though the Heat's red-hot LeBron James has a long way to go in his career, Michael Jordan always will be considered the greater player by those who simply look at scoring titles or perhaps titles won. But that's too easy, as I discuss in my latest column, The All-Round Game, in which I make the case that James is a more complete player who does more things well than did Jordan. Heck, just this week Stan Van Gundy said on 790 The Ticket he thinks LeBron right now is better than Michael in his prime. The notion isn't blasphemy anymore. Jordan told NBA.com he'd pick Kobe Bryant right now over LeBron because "five beats one every time," a reference to champions. Again, though, it's more than that. Weigh in. Vote in our poll and say why.

WHAT'S MOST REMARKABLE ABOUT THIS CANES' BASKETBALL RUN: Lots of things, is the answer, with the No. 3-ranked Canes men now 11-0 in ACC after last night's big win at FSU -- and maybe the story of the year so far in American sports. But this jumps out to me: Just looked at Chad Ford's Top 30 NBA draft prospects on ESPN.com and (you guessed it) zero Miami guys are on it. From a senior-dominated team. That's another testament to the job coach Jim Larranga has done, and to the balance and teamwork that more than make of for the lack of NBA-wowing talent.

DOLPHINS LOGO CONTEST-WINNER IS QUITE BAD: Maybe I shouldn't say this because The Miami 1aa1dolphlogoHerald ran the contest, but it isn't our fault that readers inexplicably voted whatever on Earth is pictured at right as the best suggestion for a new Dolphins logo. Seriously!? I had to be told that the thing on top surrounding the mysterious black teardrop are interlocking gloves. The helmets on the bottom look like they should be dangling from charm bracelets. All of the nominated new logos including this one underline my long-held belief that there is simply no way to make a grinning, leaping, friendly bottlenose dolphin appear menacing. The team will introduce a new (or at least modified) logo around the April draft. If there is a God in heaven it will be better than this. 

Poll result: Miami still a Football Town, but basketball gaining: We asked in previous blogpost and 43.5 percent answered "Football Town, but margin is narrowing"; 29.4% said we're Basketball Town now; 14.9% said we're clearly still Football Town; and 12.2% said it's about even.

1aa1socksTHE DWYANE WADE SOCK COLLECTION: Heat star and style icon Dwyane Wade is partnering with sock-maker Stance for a soon-to-be unveiled new line of casual and gentlemen's socks. This is a blog. Could I say it if it weren't true? I love the whole idea of upscale, designer socks. They are hidden by pant legs and covered by shoes but if you could see them you'd be impressed!

1aa1marcoMARCO, MARCO, MARCO...: Marco Rubio, of course, is the junior senator from Florida who was considered a rising star in the Republican Party until the moment he was in the midst of delivering his party's nationally televised counterpoint to the president's State of the Union address and decided it would be a good time -- right then -- to chug from a plastic water bottle.

1aa1kanagroos"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK but would be better if occasionally you would show a photo of the LPGA's season-opening Australian Women's Open being delayed because dozens of kangaroos are hopping across the course. Thank you." Dear Reader: Sorry. Can't do it.

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February 12, 2013

Sports in Miami: Still a Football Town or now a Basketball Town? Poll. Vote!; plus Canes win again, affenpinscher, Tiger, the next Pope & more

Hurricanes win again!: No. 3-ranked UM men win last night at Florida State, 74-68. Not easy, but impressive considering Canes had not won in Tally since 2006. Poll position: Protected.

1aa1mj50[1) It is THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14. New blogpost coming later this morning. 2) Michael Jordan turns 50 and is on Sports Illustrated's cover for the 50th time. 3) Tiger Woods has confirmed he will play the Honda Classic beginning Feb. 28 in Palm Beach Gardens. Huge. Tiger still the biggest draw in golf. 4) Happy 204th birthday yesterday, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, as most know, is the former vampire hunter who also served as U.S. president. 5) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat and Canes on fire, Grammys, Kate Upton. 5b) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]

"I may be paranoid. I heard somebody this week refer to 'Fat Tuesday' and I thought they were talking about me." -- Greg Cote

Click on The Ultimate Double-Double for my recent column, on the possibility Miami this year could accomplish something that has happened only twice in 66 years: One city celebrating an NBA title and an NCAA men's champion the same year.

WHAT ARE WE? FOOTBALL TOWN OR BASKETBALL TOWN?: There used to be no doubt. Miami was a Football Town by acclaim. It was so because, rounded off roughly from 1970 through 2000 we had Super 1aa1basketball 1aa1footballBowls, Don Shula, Dan Marino and five Hurricanes national titles in a seemingly endless run. Neither the Heat nor two Marlins World Series crowns could penetrate the football armor, and Panthers hockey stayed mostly on the periphery. Is football losing its grip, though? The Dolphins and Canes haven't been national powers in a long time, while the Heat have become just that. Now, too, suddenly, UM men's hoops ranks No. 3 in the nation. Does the Canes' emergence and especially the full blossom of the LeBron James Era change the dynamic? is Miami now a Basketball Town or at least moving in that direction? That is what this poll is about. Apologies in advance to baseball, hockey, soccer, cricket and kickball fans, but at this point it's an either/or on football or basketball. Remember, this is not a favorite-team poll, but rather a read on which sport is now bigger here. South Floridians, how do we now think of ourselves in terms of sports? Folks from elsewhere, which sport do you now most associate with Miami? Vote and say why.

BANANA JOE IS TOP DOG: Affenpinscher sounds like a condition I should see my doctor about but 1aa1bananajoeinstead is a breed of small dog, and one of its kind, Banana Joe (pictured) won the big prize this week at the 137th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The inherent ridiculousness of pampered, preening, prancing dogs on parade is what inspired a favorite movie of mine, Best In Show, which you absolutely must watch if you have not. Still trying to confirm speculation that Banana Joe celebrated his triumph by taking an unceremonious dump on the red carpet.

IF THE NEXT POPE WAS AMERICAN, AND HE WAS A MIAMI SPORTS FIGURE: It has come to my attention that Pope Benedict XVI is stepping down at the end of this month on account of old age, which 1aa1jackpopehappens once every 598 years. Catholics world-wide are abuzz, and speculation roars: Who'll be the next Pope? Enough with Europe, already. It is time for an American Pope! It also is time for tradition-bound Catholics to think outside the box and anoint someone who is devout but also a lay person. My nominee for next Pope, pictured right, is former Marlins manager Jack McKeon: Pope John Aloysius MMIII (the Roman numerals designating the 2003 Marlins World Series title he won). Jack is the right age for a Pope, 82, and is a devout 1aa1donpopeCatholic who attends Mass regularly. The Pope has worn a baseball hat (right); why then can't a baseman man don a papal hat? The 1aa1bbpopeone possible drawback -- cigar smoke in the Vatican -- could be overcome. Should Jack not accept the post, my two other nominees for next Pope are, pictured left, Don Shula or Edwin Pope. Shula is the right age, 83, and also is a devout Catholic. He would be Pope Donald Francis LXXII (designating the '72 Perfect Season). Edwin Pope, 84, may or may not be a Catholic, or devout, but has 1aa1edwinpopethe perfect name. No Roman numerals would be needed. He simply would be Pope Pope. Should the Catholic Church choose to maintain tradition and require that the next Pope be a Cardinal, there is no clear choice. It might have been Stan Musial, but he just died.

OBAMA'S STATE OF UNION ADDRESS: Forgetting the politics or content of it, I thought the oratory was strong. The "they deserve a vote" chant over the applause on gun-control was effective speech-making. By the way, I hate when the other party gets to air the opposing view right afterward. I'd hate it no matter who was or wasn't in office. To me, a president through his election has won the right to present the State of the Union without an immediate televised counterpoint from the side whose ideas and ideals were not elected. I may be wrong.

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