Random evidence of a cluttered mind

Miami is transformed into city of hoop dreams

 

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Today: Sony Open Tennis in Key Biscayne. Most career matches played in the tournament’s 29-year history entering this year’s event:

Matches Player Record (titles)
Men
74Andre Agassi61-13 (6)
53Roger Federer41-12 (2)
52Pete Sampras42-10 (3)
47Andy Roddick36-11 (2)
45 Jim Courier33-12 (1)
Women
65Steffi Graf59-6 (5)
62Serena Williams55-7 (5)
62Venus Williams52-10 (3)
56Gabriela Sabatini45-11 (1)
49Jennifer Capriati36-13 (0)

Note: Titles refer to singles. Williams sisters are only listed players in this year’s field.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about:

1. UM/COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Canes win opener, face Illinois on Sunday: No. 2 seed Miami routed No. 15 Pacific 78-49 and faces No. 7 Illinois on Sunday for spot in Sweet 16. (UM women also play Sunday.) Sweet 16 would equal Canes men’s deepest run in an NCAA Tournament. Barry Larkin (Shane’s dad) hasn’t gotten this much TV face time since Reds won the 1990 World Series.

2. HEAT

Streak celebrates 25th consecutive victory: Detroit was victim No. 25 on Friday, next arrives awful Charlotte here Sunday. The biggest test likely will be a week from Sunday, at San Antonio for what would be No. 30 en route to the Lakers’ 1971-72 record of 33. Players and coaches take one game at a time and hate to look ahead. I sort of like it!

3. DOLPHINS

Team continues to build roster, referendum bid: The free agency hunt goes on, but it seems the club’s priority now is building momentum for a referendum vote for $200 million in public money for stadium improvements. They say it’ll bring future Super Bowls to Miami. Bulletin: Local fans mostly care about Miami PLAYING in future Super Bowls.

4. TENNIS

Top seeds S. Williams, Djokovic roll on at Key Biscayne: Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic won early matches and seemed headed to the finals. The event was marred because Roger Federer elected not to play and Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka withdrew. That’ll bust a bracket worse than Harvard and Florida Gulf Coast winning, won’t it?

5. MARLINS

Opener in eight days as spring training winds down: The Marlins open their 21st season on the road at the Washington Nationals on April Fool’s Day. Appropriately enough, those of us who actually believed Jeffrey Loria saying the new stadium would mean big player payrolls and competitive, star-filled teams every year — we feel like fools.

gcote@miamiherald.com

The symbiosis happened during a third-quarter timeout at the Heat game here Friday night, when the video screen showed a tribute to the Hurricanes, and all at once Miami basketball became one, with Heat fans chanting “Let’s go Canes!”

There has never been a single better time than right now for the Heat and UM men together. On Sunday, our pro guys are home against Charlotte gunning for their 26th consecutive victory as the all-time NBA record of 33 consecutive wins looms into view. And right after that, in Austin, the No. 2 seed Hurricanes face No. 7 Illinois in the next round of the NCAA Tournament for a spot in the Sweet16.

What defines Miami as a sports town has changed, at least for now. What’s next, the Don Shula Expressway renamed for Jim Larrañaga? The Perfect Season usurped by The Perfect Streak?

You gotta love Larrañaga. He’s a bit older, which might explain the team using “Full Speed Ahead” as its postseason T-shirt slogan. Not often is a Naval expression from the 1860s associated with college kids in 2013.

Larrañaga, by the way, has decided to embrace his Cuban heritage by adding a tilde above the “n” in his surname, lending a Hispanic flair to the way it is said. Henceforth, the coach’s name is to be pronounced, “Larranationalcoachoftheyear.”

(His first name is still Jim, although there are rumors he’ll break out “Jaime” if the Canes reach the Final Four.)

Give Larrañaga credit for going all the way in embracing those Cuban roots.

Turns out orange neckties look good over a Guayabera shirt.

And his players seem to be adjusting surprisingly well to Larrañaga making his points during timeouts through that haze of cigar smoke.

• I can summarize March Madness in four words: Florida Gulf Coast!? Harvard!?

• Call it the Tuna Bowl. The Dolphins and Cowboys will open the NFL preseason in the annual Hall of Fame Game. Yes, because how better to mark the Hall induction of Bill Parcells than with a game between the two teams most associated with his failure.

• The NFL has now made it illegal for running backs to lower their helmets when preparing for contact. These safety measures are getting a bit much. I hear the league will now consider a collegial butt-slap to be unnecessary roughness.

• In other NFL news, commissioner Roger Goodell announced the Pro Bowl would remain in Hawaii, and not even Hawaiians cared.

• Asked when he might return from knee surgery, Bulls guard Derrick Rose said, “Nobody knows but God.” Cannot confirm God plans to reveal His Answer in a Monday news conference.

• The Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic win made it three consecutive WBCs with the U.S. team not even reaching the final. Wait. Didn’t we invent baseball? This would be like the NFL losing the Super Bowl to the Netherlands.

• The last-place Panthers had won two in a row entering Saturday’s game. The NHL playoffs are still in sight if — ah, who am I kidding!

• The Fort Lauderdale Strikers, preparing for upcoming NASL soccer season, held a “restoration day” Saturday at Lockhart Stadium, inviting fans to help paint and landscape the facility. Something to keep in mind, Stephen Ross, in case that referendum for Dolphin stadium renovations fails to pass.

• The above idea could prove appealing to Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria as well. The ultimate payroll-slash: A call to fans to man an all-volunteer baseball team.

• Confirming rumors, Tiger Woods revealed on his Facebook page he is dating skier Lindsey Vonn. There is symmetry here. Woods has won 14 majors, and Vonn is his 14th blonde.

• The state’s top horse race, the annual Florida Derby at Gulfstream, will be run Saturday. The winner will be considered a good bet to not win the Triple Crown.

• Sentences I Never Imagined Writing, one in a series: “NBA legend Adrian Dantley is now a school crossing guard in Silver Spring, Md.”

• Dolphins were awarded extra compensatory draft picks in the fifth and seventh rounds for last year’s free agent losses. If only the team got extra picks based on previous bad draft decisions.

• Broncos safety Quinton Carter was accused by a Las Vegas casino of placing a $5 chip on a craps table after the dice had rolled. So he not only cheats. He’s cheap.

•  Mike Ditka has come out with his own line of signature wines. The cabernet has notes of oak, cinnamon and grumpy old man.

•  Parting thought: Update: Workers at the Boston Garden have finally been able to extract Celtic Jason Terry from under the hardwood, where he’d been buried by a LeBron James dunk several nights before.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote.

Read more Greg Cote stories from the Miami Herald

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Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade signals a big three pointer in the fourth quarter in Game 1 of the Miami Heat's NBA Playoff matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on April 20, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Greg Cote: Miami Heat needs Dwyane Wade of Game 1 to three-peat

    The Heat this season put together feature videos on every player that are shown on the home arena’s giant scoreboard screen during games. The one on Dwyane Wade happened to air Sunday during a timeout in the second half of the playoff victory over Charlotte that opened Miami’s postseason bid for a third consecutive NBA championship.

  •  
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, and center Chris Bosh watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in Miami. The 76ers defeated the Heat 100-87.

    IN MY OPINION

    Greg Cote: Dynasty or dismantling for the Miami Heat?

    A Heat playoff run is the annual gift we slowly unwrap together, our two-month emotional thrill ride ever since LeBron James grandly announced he was “taking my talents to South Beach” that summer night in 2010. Well, buckle up again, South Florida. Prepare for exhilarating highs and work-productivity lows. Prepare for late nights walking drained from the downtown bayside arena. Prepare for hearts to soar or plunge on whether a basketball swishes through a nylon net or bonks off a painted rim.

  •  
Charlotte Bobcats' Al Jefferson, left, drives past Miami Heat's Shane Battier, right, to dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014.

    In My Opinion

    Miami Heat sweep would challenge rosy outlook by Bobcats’ Al Jefferson

    I think that Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson, not a star in the NBA but a good player, must lead the league in seeing the bright side, in trying to find the best in a bad situation. This talent figures to come in particularly handy in the next week-plus as his hopeless underdogs try to avert being swept in four games by the two-time, defending-champion Heat.

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