Greg Cote: Miami Heat is the people’s champ, but not everyone’s pick

05/18/2014 12:00 AM

09/08/2014 7:18 PM

The Heat is the people’s champion as the NBA postseason reaches its Final Four. Miami is a clear favorite to three-peat by the measure of general public consensus, even as many media experts lean to West powers San Antonio or Oklahoma City.

A new ESPN poll — of fans, not media — has 43 percent saying the Heat will be champion, 31 percent for the Spurs, 20 percent for the Thunder and only 6 percent for the Indiana Pacers.

Betting odds reflect public opinion, so it isn’t surprising that entering the conference finals, Miami is also the wagering favorite now at even 1-1 odds for the title (according to Bovada in Las Vegas), while the Spurs are 11-5, the Thunder 7-2, and the Pacers a long-shot 10-1.

The bottom line is that the 2014 NBA Finals will either be a rematch of 2012 against the Thunder or of ’13 against the Spurs. Hopeless Pacers fans, go drown your sorrows in a shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s.

Of course one of the persons never on board with the people’s champion is the determinedly anti-Heat TV naysayer, Charles Barkley. Barkley has been in the news lately for saying that women from San Antonio are, um, a bit heavy. This alone indicates a lack of self-awareness. Perhaps Barkley has neither a scale nor mirrors in his house.

Anyway, whereas Barkley thinks San Antonio women are too fat, he thinks the Heat are too thin. He says Miami is “not the favorite” because LeBron James has to do too much, doesn’t have enough help. He keeps remarking on the air about all the “dead weight” James must carry.

Speaking of weight, Barkley says he will not apologize to the women of San Antonio.

Aside to Barkley. Here’s a line for you to use on the air, a little gift from me to you:

“I will not apologize to the women of San Antonio for what I said. However, here to apologize on my behalf, is Donald Sterling … .”

• People are still shaking their heads incredulously over Clippers owner Sterling’s world’s-worst, least-successful apology for his racist comments. The “apology” turned, somehow, into an attack on Magic Johnson. We can only assume that the Human Nightmare’s subsequent apology for the Magic comments might segue into support for the Redskins nickname.
• The Pistons hired Stan Van Gundy as coach and the Warriors got Steve Kerr, leaving the Knicks still scrambling. The good news? I hear Phil Jackson really aced his interview with Phil Jackson.
• The NBA Draft lottery is Tuesday. The team awarded the No. 1 pick shouldn’t say, “Thanks.” It should say, “Tanks.”
• Congrats to Hurricanes baseball on a big regular season and No. 5 ranking entering this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. But it’s still Omaha — with a first College World Series berth since 2008 — or bust.
• The boyfriend of St. Louis Rams rookie Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, is Vito Cammisano. He reportedly is the grandson of the former Kansas City mob boss who was called “Willie the Rat” because after he killed enemies, he would dispose of their bodies in the sewer to be eaten by rats. Aside to Rams coach Jeff Fisher: Think twice before cutting Sam.
• The Browns supposedly drafted Johnny Manziel after owner Jimmy Haslam heard a homeless man tell him, “Draft Manziel.” Cannot confirm the homeless man was a former team sports owner bankrupted by taking personnel advice from homeless men.
• Former Patriot Aaron Hernandez, already jailed on a murder charge, has now been indicted in two additional killings. Hernandez’s only remaining value: To make your basic drunk-driving, wife-beating, dope-smoking, dumb-tweeting, bar-brawling athlete seem not nearly as bad by comparison.
• ESPN’s Todd McShay has come out with his first 2015 NFL mock draft. No, seriously. Next stop: McShay projects the 2037 draft and has Dolphins selecting a wideout who’ll be conceived this summer in the back of a Chevy Silverado.
• Looks like David Beckham’s plan for a Miami soccer stadium for his MLS team may be subject to a public vote in a referendum. Uh oh. Famous Beckham charm, prepare to meet your toughest foe.
• The Mets inadvertently emailed general manager Sandy Alderson’s credit card information to New York media. Hmm. I’m surprised Alderson still has a line of credit left after his lunatic spending on a used Curtis Granderson.
• The NHL playoffs are down to their final four, and Chicago is the betting favorite to win its third Stanley Cup in the past five years. In that city, the Blackhawks are the antidote to the Cubs.
• Next Sunday is the 98th Indianapolis 500, whose winning driver drinks milk in the winner’s circle in a long-held tradition. My wish for a lactose-intolerant winner has not yet been granted.
• I’ve always thought it weird the WNBA starts its season in the midst of the NBA playoffs. Unless the goal is to drive home how low, slow and inferior the women’s game is by comparison.
• Soccer’s World Cup starts in 25 days, and the host country is making progress. Stadiums are not finished, airports are incomplete and security remains a big issue, but Brazil has agreed on yellow and green as the event’s official colors.
•  Parting thought: The Leon County Sheriffs Department this week released surveillance video of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston stealing crab legs. Suffice to say Wintson is more successful escaping the pocket than he is escaping the Publix.

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

About Greg Cote

Greg Cote

@gregcote

Greg Cote has been a Miami Herald sports columnist since 1995 and also writes the Random Evidence blog and NFL predictions along with his notorious sidekick the Upset Bird. He has covered Hurricanes football (1984-88), the Dolphins (1990-91) and major events including Super Bowls, NBA Finals, World Series, Stanley Cup, Olympics and World Cup.

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