Random evidence of a cluttered mind

LeBron James surrounded by good noise and bad noise

 

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Today: Indianapolis 500. Entering Sunday’s 98th running, foreign drivers have won the famed race the past seven years, the longest U.S. drought in history. The five most recent Americans to win the Indy 500:

Year U.S. winner Engine/avg. speed
2006 Sam Hornish Jr.Honda/157.085 mph
2004 Buddy RiceHonda/138.518
1998 Eddie Cheever Jr.Oldsmobile/145.155
1996 Buddy LazierFord Cosworth/147.956
1994 Al Unser Jr.Mercedes-Benz/160.872

Notes: The race’s only four-time winners — A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears — all are American drivers. Defending champion is Tony Kanaan of Brazil. Most recent back-to-back winner was Helio Castroneves of Brazil in 2001-02.


What South Florida sports fans are talking about:

1. HEAT

NBA Eastern finals swings back to Miami: Pat Riley first got trademark rights to the phrase “three-peat” (or “3-peat”) in 1988 after his Lakers won a second title in a row. They didn’t get the third. Now Riley has expanded the trademark to include jewelry and memorabilia as his Heat go for a third in a row. Give Riley this much: He doesn’t believe in jinxes.

2. DOLPHINS

Team still doubted as rookie camp wraps up: As Miami wraps up its three-day rookie minicamp Sunday, ESPN’s postdraft NFL power rankings have the Dolphins 24th of 32 teams and projected for 7-9 record. Call these Dolphins practices Stealth Camp, because the Heat’s playoff run means the local radar is now barely registering the Dolphins.

3. MARLINS

Fish hang tough as season nears one-third mark: Even missing Jose Fernandez, Miami remains improbably in the playoff hunt entering its series at NL East rival Washington. The big reason? Last year’s 3.17 runs per game were last in the league, and this year’s 4.73 ranks second. Marlins hitters have discovered you can go home again. And again.

4. INDIANAPOLIS 500

Who’ll drink the milk after Sunday’s 98th running? Co-betting favorites are Brazil’s Helio Castroneves, who won in 2001-02 and ’09 and lives in Fort Lauderdale, and Marco Andretti, who would be the race’s first U.S.-born winner since 2006. Hoosiers at the track like to chant “Let’s go Pacers!” Or maybe it’s “Let’s Go Pace-Cars!” Too noisy to tell.

5. HURRICANES

UM a major disappointment at ACC tournament: Canes talked up being Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season champions, but the boast rang hollow as UM lost two in a row in the ACC tournament. It was only the second time in 29 years a No.1 seed had done that. Omaha hasn’t moved, but it suddenly seems farther away.

gcote@miamiherald.com

Can’t say I write this Friday if the Heat won Game 3 over Indiana here Saturday night (I’d have bet on it), but I can say this with fair certainty: What happens with LeBron James later this summer is more compelling and of greater interest than whether the Heat wins a third consecutive NBA championship.

In fact, the greatest value in a three-peat would be its impact on LeBron’s pending free agency decision; no way he bolts a triple champ.

But there is a big chance James re-signs with Miami even if the Heat falls short this time. There also is a viable in-between option in which James might opt-in for another season and defer his free agency until summer 2015.

The not knowing naturally feeds the Professional Noisemakers in the national media, especially the LeBronologists known to skew Anti-Heat. They don’t stop.

Just this week, Charles Barkley — and the mental image of him dressed as a Cavaliers cheerleader is both unsettling and unavoidable — directly campaigned for James’ return to Cleveland, saying he hoped it would happen. (Accompanied by the recycled Standard Chuck slam at Heat fans.)

Bill Simmons, during Game 2 in Indiana, ludicrously speculated James might be having an off game because he had heard Cleveland had just won the NBA lottery that night, yet again implying his return to the Cavs had just grown more likely.

The odd thing is, Miami is doing something very noisy — going for a third consecutive title — but the volume on LeBron speculation is in some ways even louder.

People, can we enjoy the MVP-level postseason James is having now and just sort of table the gnashing and gnawing over what might happen next?

What LeBron is doing right now deserves every decibel of thunder you heard here Saturday night and will again Monday.

But what he might do in July? That, right now, deserves one of those signs you see held up at golf tournaments:

QUIET, PLEASE.

• Mavericks owner Mark Cuban invited controversy by admitting his prejudices, saying he would walk across the street to avoid “a black kid in a hoodie” or “a guy that has tattoos all over his face.” I, too, have my prejudices. I’d walk across the street to avoid a guy who wants to talk sports with me nonstop.

• Heat prez Pat Riley has expanded his trademark rights to “3-peat.” Not to be outdone, I now have a patent on “RodneyPeete.”

• U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann surprisingly left Landon Donovan off the World Cup roster. It’s an outrage, according to quadrennial American soccer experts who have not watched a match since 2010 and could not name another U.S. player.

• The World Cup begins in 18 days, with host Brazil still under fire because not all stadiums are ready. “What!? We thought we were hosting in 2018,” said Brazil. “We’d better get moving!”

•  David Beckham, after failing to land the PortMiami site for his Miami MLS team’s new soccer stadium, now is meeting fierce opposition to his alternate site near the Heat’s arena. I imagine Becks thinking how easy he had it when all he had to do was model underwear and look sexy.

• Tennis’ French Open is starting. It would be exciting if it wasn’t pretty forgone that the winners would be Rafael Nadal, for the ninth time, and Serena Williams, because she always wins.

• California Chrome’s Triple Crown dream is alive after New York racing officials ruled the colt may compete in the June 7 Belmont wearing his customary nasal strips. The horse started winning after using the nasal strips. “And I started sleeping, free from that snoring!” said Mrs. California Chrome.

• The New York Rangers on home ice Sunday have a chance to take a 3-1 series lead over Montreal as the NHL playoffs are down to the final four. As a lifelong Yankees/Jets hater but a jingoist hoping the U.S. team beats Canada, I cannot tell you how dirty I feel rooting for New York.

• Manager Mike Redmond was ejected from a Marlins home game after an expletive-filled tirade that ended with him kicking dirt on home plate. If there is a heaven, Earl Weaver was smiling.

• That reminds me. Umpires in town this week dropped in on patients at Miami Children’s Hospital. Imagine you’re a kid told to expect a visitor from professional sports and in walks an umpire. It’s like hoping for Brad Pitt and getting the movie-theater manager.

• The Dodgers released catcher Miguel Olivo after he bit off part of the ear of a Triple A teammate. Alas, I’m already at my year’s quota of Mike Tyson/ Evander Holyfield references, so let’s move on.

• MLB Network took analyst Mitch Williams off the air after a reported tirade at a youth tournament. The players were 10 and under. Williams aspires to reach their maturity level.

•  Julio Franco, 55, is a player-coach for the minor-league Fort Worth Cats. “This most definitely is not a publicity stunt,” the team lied.

•  Michael Sam wisely agreed to cancel plans for a reality documentary about being the NFL’s first openly gay player, to air on Oprah Winfrey Network. You want to fit in? Play football. Make the team.

•  Parting thought: Barry won the NCAA Division II championship in women’s tennis. Wait. Is that fair they let Barry play in a women’s tournament?

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

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