Sports

Tough pill to swallow for LeBron James critics, haters

Heat players’ champagne hangovers have barely subsided (the championship parade isn’t even until Monday), and already Miami is set as the early 2012-13 NBA title favorite at 11-4 odds, followed by vanquished Oklahoma City at 5-1, then Chicago at 6-1.

Am proud to say our city’s celebration immediately following Thursday night’s home victory didn’t get too out of hand, because we’re a bit different here. You know how other urban areas sometimes riot after winning a championship by lighting fires and turning over cars?

The closest we came in South Beach was lighting flambés of bananas Foster and turning over shakers of Mojitos.

In addition to the beaten Thunder, the biggest losers coming out of the NBA Finals are all the LeBron James critics and haters who now have a much tougher challenge to maintain their animus. Much of that seems to have subsided, even in Cleveland, where Cavs owner Dan Gilbert congratulated Miami on Twitter (though not mentioning James). Also, “Congrats LeBron” was a briefly-trending topic on the social-media site.

Stubborn, lunatic outposts of vitriol remain, of course, entrenched, bunker-like.

Cleveland’s WTAM-1100 radio is inviting website visitors to affirm the lovely sentiment “You Still [Stink], LeBron!” and thousands have. In a Cleveland Plain-Dealer poll, about 67 percent are voting that they either never liked James or like him even less now that he has won a ring.

Stay classy, Cleveland!

Haters gonna hate. How many fans outside of South Florida probably thought James was faking those leg cramps? And remember, when, with Thursday’s clinching game well in hand, LeBron sat down with 3:01 to play so Heat fans could cheer him appreciatively? Hater headline:

“LeBron Scoreless In Last Three Minutes As Fourth-Quarter Fizzles Continue!”

• Things about the OKC Thunder I found funny: 1)

Serge Ibaka

inviting a Breathalyzer by saying LeBron is “not a good defender”; 2)

Kevin Durant

telling superstar two-time champion

Dwyane Wade

he was “too small”; and 3) the family of baby sparrows flying out of

James Harden’s

beard.



• Popular

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

finally won again after a four-year drought covering 143 races. I thought NASCAR was smart to tell the other drivers to let him win a damned race, don’t you?



• Wimbledon gets under way Monday, with

Novak Djokovic

and

Maria Sharapova

the top seeds. My favorite part of Wimbledon is writers rhapsodizing over the strawberries and cream there — as if that isn’t readily available everywhere and just as good.



• Despite a broad public perception of guilt, Roger Clemens was acquitted on all six counts of perjury over steroids accusations. Leaving the courtroom, federal prosecutors tripped over their gigantic floppy shoes and fell flat on their big red clown noses.

• A jury found

Jerry Sandusky

guilty of 45 of 48 counts in his child-sex-abuse trial. Testimony against the former Penn State football assistant coach was overwhelming, but his fate was sealed when the judge denied an emergency defense motion to fly in the Clemens jury.



• 

Dan Le Batard

, colleague and 790 The Ticket host, paid off a bet with

Charles Barkley

over last year’s NBA Finals by stripping down to a Speedo bathing suit at the Clevelander in South Beach. Le Batard lost the bet, as did anyone who saw him in a Speedo.



• BCS commissioners agreed to a plan for a four-team college football playoff. Fans from several schools already have begun blasting the new system in anticipation of their team being ranked No. 5.



• The NBA Draft is in four days, but the Heat has only the 27th choice, an unexcitingly low pick. I say Miami give the pick to Oklahoma City as sort of a half thank-you gift, half sympathy card.



• The Panthers picked 23rd on Friday night in the NHL Draft, which is generally considered to be the largest gathering of white teenagers outside of an

Eminem

concert.



• At the NHL awards show in Vegas, Panthers defenseman

Brian Campbell

won the Lady Byng trophy for sportsmanship and “gentlemanly conduct.” Cannot confirm rumors he refused the award and stormed angrily off the stage.



• Louisville and coach

Rick Pitino

unsurprisingly agreed to a three-game basketball series beginning this year with FIU, now coached by Rick’s kid,

Richard Pitino

. (Have mercy on the child, OK Dad?)



• And in golf, somebody not named

Tiger Woods

won the 112th U.S. Open.



• Running back

LaDainian Tomlinson

retired as a Charger. Somebody asked if I thought he was the greatest player named LaDainian ever. I said whoa, let’s not get carried away!



•  Ray Lewis conducted a defensive football camp at St. Thomas U. I understand the first day focused on scowling and gesticulating.

• Marlins owner

Jeffrey Loria

spoke to his slumping team in a closed-door meeting, telling players, “Don’t quit on yourselves.” It was thought to be the worst pep talk in the history of sports. The good news? At least

Muhammad Ali

wasn’t wheeled in on a golf cart.



• A

Babe Ruth

jersey sold for $4.4 million at an auction, most ever paid for an item of sports memorabilia. I wouldn’t pay that if Babe came to life and was part of the deal.



• 

Parting thought:

Major league umpires are now wearing military-style cooling packs under their heavy gear to combat the heat. Fans responded by saying they’d prefer the umpires suffer.



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

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