Can Heat's Riley trade Whiteside and Dragic's big contracts? New column; plus NHL Panthers poised to be Next Big Thing, U.S. women's soccer should be celebrated, Durant's legacy, newest Back In My Day, O.J.'s happiness, The List (Game 7's) & more
GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.
1) It's SATURDAY, JUNE 15. Always football season, so always the right time to check out our 'Fins At 50' book for the Dolfans in your life, here: Amazon. Thanks for making it Amazon's 902,432nd best-selling book as of this morning. Seriously. I think I'm right behind the guy who self-published a book about his lifelong battle with ingrown toenails. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hot Button Top 10, will Dolphins be too good for Tua & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.
BIG SUMMER FOR HEAT WOULD BE RILEY UNLOADING TRADING WHITESIDE, DRAGIC. NEW COLUMN: Goran Dragic opting in will cost the Heat 19.2 million next season. If Hassan Whiteside (pictured) also opts in as expected at $27.1M, that's a combined $46.3 million for two aging, injury-prone players who are made expendable by the rise of Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo, both vitally a part of the Heat's future. Meaning? Meaning this would be a good summer for Miami if Pat Riley becomes a master salesman and is able to unload both in trade. Maybe a package deal could pry point guard Mike Conley from Memphis for a year before he becomes a free agent. I explore this and more in my latest column. To read it, kindly visit Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic.
PANTHERS POISED TO BE NEXT BIG THING. (AND THIS TIME THEY MEAN IT): As next week's NHL Draft and then free agency loom, the Florida Panthers have positioned themselves, with a big summer, to be the next big thing in hockey and in South Florida pro sports. They've done it with a strong young core led by budding superstar Aleksander Barkov. They've done it with a great coaching hire in three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville. They've done by stockpiling draft picks. They've done by freeing up a ton of money to chase major free agents. One they really want, and need, is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, 30, a four-time all-star and twice Vezina Trophy winner as goalie of the year. A strong draft and a Bobrovsky-led FA haul would give Quenneville a lot to work with. Pictured right: Bobrovsky, and Florida GM Dale Tallon introducing his new coach. For my column as the Panthers enter their summer of reckoning, please visit Why Florida Panthers Are Poised To (Finally) Be The Next Big Thing.
U.S. WOMEN NEED NOT APOLOGIZE FOR WORLD CUP ROUT: [U.S. rolls over Thailand 13-0 in most lopsided match in Women's World Cup history, and team gets blasted for running up the score and celebrating too much. That's baloney. For my column, please visit U.S. Women's Soccer Should Be Celebrated -- No Apologies] ..... Original post: It's U.S. Women's National Team vs. Thailand in the Americans' first group-stage match of the month-long World Cup in France. Kickoff is 3 p.m. in the East. U.S. is the defending WC champion and a narrow betting favorite this time to repeat and earn a record fourth world title overall, although host France and Germany will be tough competition for the crown. States are led by a familiar, veteran team spearheaded by Alex Morgan (pictured) up front. There is a popular notion that the world is catching up to the Americans' dominance. We're about to find out. I love everything about this team, from their style and skill on the pitch to their outspoken fight for pay equity and for gender equality. Oh, and their coach, U.K.-born Jill Ellis, lives in Palmetto Bay just south of Miami. I'll be rooting for the U.S. and I don't care who knows it. "Let's gooooo States!"
DURANT RETURNS, GETS REINJURED, BUT GOLDEN STATE SURVIVES ANYWAY: Kevin Durant has spent his entire NBA career as the dispensable superstar. He still is. Durant finally returned from his calf injury last night, left reinjured in the second quarter (with a torn Achilles, they fear), but Golden State won anyway, 106-105, in Toronto to force an NBA Finals Game 6. Durant was set up to heroically be the oxygen and rescue his team from a 3-1 series hole — something done only once before in Finals history — and carry it to a third consecutive championship. As a parting gift for likely leaving in free agency in a month, Durant could have saved Golden State’s dynasty. Nothing less would do. What is Durant’s value? To the Warriors, and in free agency. That would the question in play the rest of these Finals. Durant is elite. A perennial all-star. A former league MVP. Hall of Fame-bound. But he has never been what he had a chance to prove himself as the rest of this series: Indispensable. He was great for Oklahoma City but never good enough to lift the Thunder to a championship in eight seasons. Did Golden State need Durant to become what they have? No. They won a title before he got there. Then had the single-best regular season in league history before he got there. Now, as Golden State steamed into the Finals with Durant absent, sidelined since May 8, there was audacious talk that the Warriors somehow might be a better team without Durant. It was quantifiable, the team’s record much better with Steph Curry but no Durant than with Durant but no Steph. That could all have changed starting last night. Instead, it only affirmed the Warriors can win without him. Now, sadly, he likely will leave Golden State the way he did Oklahoma City, a dispensable superstar not feeling a lot of love on the way out. To read the column, kindly visit Durant Legacy Wobbles As Warriors Win Without Him.
Other most recent columns: Miami Dolphins Will Be Better Than You Think In 2019 and Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez. Also: Reasons To Like Flores & 5 Keys To Dolphins Season / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / Drama Kings: How NBA Became America's Most Interesting Sport / Buckner Legacy One Of Notoriety And Forgiveness / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players.
LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': COMMERCE!: This premiered on today's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. Hashtag: #SaveTheRetailStore. Dan liked it. Maybe you will, too. (By the way, thanks to all the show fans we met today the the Father's Day Fiesta event at Fogo de Chao on South Beach).
THE LIST: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME 7s: Including this week's Boston-St. Louis NHL Final as the latest, the 10 most recent championship-deciding Game 7s in baseball, basketball and hockey:
Year Sport Winner Loser Score
2019 NHL Blues @Bruins 4-1
2017 MLB Astros @Dodgers 5-1
2016 NBA Cavaliers @Warriors 93-89
2016 MLB Cubs @Indians 8-7 (10i)
2014 MLB Giants @Royals 3-2
2013 NBA @Heat Spurs 95-88
2011 NHL Bruins @Canucks 4-0
2011 MLB @Cardinals Rangers 6-2
2010 NBA @Lakers Celtics 83-79
2009 NHL Penguins @Red Wings 2-1
Notes: Road teams have now won five (!) Game 7s in a row and seven of past 10. The only Game 7 involving South Florida teams in addition to '13 Heat was @Marlins beating Indians 3-2 (11i) in 1997.
ARE WE HAPPY THAT O.J. SIMPSON IS HAPPY?: The Associated Press scored an exclusive interview this week with the media-shy O.J. Simpson, the former Bills running back who of course skated in 1995 on that infamous double-murder charge but later did nine years for a robbery/kidnapping conviction. He was released in 2017 and now lives in Las Vegas. The AP story ran with the headline, '25 years after murders, O.J. says 'Life is fine'. It describes a now 71-year-old who plays lots of golf, poses for lots of selfies and is happy or at least content, not overcome with guilt, anger or anything of the sort. He declines to discuss the double murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, for which Simpson was acquitted to the shock (mostly) of white America. He describes the not looking back as his "no negative zone." The story is worth the read anyway. To do so, click here. The photo is an AP shot taken last week.
Other select recent columns: End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Meet Tyler Gaffalione: Local Jockey Who Made It Big / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Zion Williamson's Power to Reject Lottery / Inter Miami's Demolition Ceremony Begins Frantic Race To Finish / Maximum Security's Disqualification Is Kentucky Derby's Ultimate Stain / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / In Joel Quenneville, Panthers Get Their Riley, Their Shula / Dwyane Wade Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is Bereft; Wade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T. / Why Tannehill's Legacy Probably Isn't What You Think / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.
APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.
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