LeBron James is back in Miami to face the Heat on Monday, but we can’t think about that right now. It is the Dolphins’ big week in NFL free agency and trades, along with the Selection Sunday onset of March Madness in college basketball, that joust for the frontal lobes of South Florida sports fans.
The American Gaming Association estimates that 40 million people in this country will fill out more than 70 million brackets and wager (legally or otherwise) some $9 billion on the NCAA Tournament — more than double the $3.9 billion bet on the recent Super Bowl.
No mystery why U.S. workplace productivity lags compared with some other nations. Part of it is our general collective laziness. Part of it is that we’ll be consumed for most of the next month with monitoring and talking about our brackets and paying rapt attention to games we’d otherwise ignore.
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The men’s bracket will be set Sunday and the women’s Monday, with both Miami Hurricanes teams considered to be on the bubble and iffy.
Meantime, the National Invitation Tournament waits like a dog at the foot of the dinner table, poised to gobble up the unwanted scraps the NCAA drops on the ground or leaves on the plate.
On to the Dolphins.
Miami has played its part in the busiest week for major player movement in recent NFL history.
The Fins traded receiver Mike Wallace to Minnesota after earlier signing receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jordan Cameron on a busy Friday, with the status of tight end Charles Clay still in limbo. But of course the week’s big news, in every sense, was the signing of superstar defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
The Dolphins won big on that and I did, too, betting heavily on every imaginable lame play on words on Suh’s name that might appear in the predictable media. You know, “Suh-per Bowl,” “Suh-perstar,” the altered spelling of tsunami, references to Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue and Phil Collins’ Sussudio — all of it.
No “Ndamu-king-kong,” at least. (Thanks for small favors.)
By the way, in case you wondered, the name Ndamukong Suh, in the Ngemba tribal language of Cameroon, means, “Enough with the awful puns, already!”
▪ Are you as excited as me? What? Oh, you thought I meant about March Madness? That, too, I guess. But I was referring to a presumptive New Zealand-India final in the Cricket World Cup!
▪ Suh’s Dolphins contract averages $19 million per season. “Aw, that’s so cute,” said Giancarlo ($25M) Stanton and Chris (23.6M) Bosh. “Need a loan?”
▪ New baseball commissioner Rob Manfred mentioned some day playing spring exhibitions in Cuba if relations continue thawing. Might Havana get a future expansion team? Hey I’m just asking. Unlike Ozzie Guillen, I don’t like Fidel and never have!
▪ Comic actor Will Ferrell played all nine positions for 10 teams in five spring training games in one day in Arizona on Thursday. All involved denied it was a publicity stunt.
▪ Sentences I Never Imagined Writing (one in a series): “The Milwaukee Brewers have banned high fives to avoid the spread of pinkeye.”
▪ The Miami Open, which starts a week from Monday in Key Biscayne, this year will include a swimwear fashion show, pro beach volleyball tournament and “Taste of the Open” event with celebrity chefs. Reportedly there also will be tennis matches, time permitting.
▪ The NBA and NCAA have agreed on a plan to discourage players from leaving school early for the pros. You knew it had gone too far when middle school kids started sitting out NBA games because of acne.
▪ Rain hampered the recent Doral golf event at times. Cannot confirm owner Donald Trump has ordered a feasibility study on covering the course with a retractable dome.
▪ The Panthers, playing off their spate of goaltender injuries, will hold an open tryout Monday, with the winner getting to be a backup goalie during an upcoming practice. If only the Cats were as successful at making the NHL playoffs as they are at publicity stunts.
▪ The notion of UFC star Ronda Rousey perhaps fighting a man has come to a reasonable end by Rousey’s own suggestion that — in light of NFL domestic-violence issues — the idea of a man beating up a woman on TV might not go over so well.
▪ Answer: Serena Williams chose to play at Indian Wells, California, for the first time since her father heard racial taunts there 14 years earlier. Question: How long does a grudge last?
▪ NASCAR lifted Kurt Busch’s suspension related to a domestic-violence issue. Busch looks forward to putting the controversy behind him and getting back to his normal routine of feuding with and being hated by other drivers.
▪ A pair of sneakers Michael Jordan supposedly wore in a game in 1984 is expected to sell for $50,000 or more at auction. I’d spend that for a pair of old sneakers only on the assurance I’d find a blank check for $49,995 stuffed in one of the shoes.
▪ Parting thought: Ex-Dolphin Jared Odrick left for Jacksonville with a parting shot at coach Joe Philbin, calling new coach Gus Bradley an “energetic guy, something I wasn’t used to in Miami.” Forgive Odrick. Going to the Jaguars would make anybody bitter.
Visit Greg’s Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.
Today: Dolphins’ greatest defensive tackles. Inspired by the team’s signing of free agent Ndamukong Suh, we list our picks for greatest defensive tackles in Miami franchise history:
1. Bob Baumhower
2. Tim Bowens
3. Manny Fernandez
4. Daryl Gardener
5. Paul Soliai
Note: Honorable mention to Brian Sochia (1986-91), Vonnie Holliday (2005-08) and Randy Starks (2008-14). Seasons and games/starts refer to time with Dolphins only.
What South Florida sports fans are talking about1. DOLPHINS
What South Florida sports fans are talking about
Fins sign Ndamukong Suh, trade Mike Wallace: Miami traded Mike Wallace and signed a terrific talent but one who often shows a propensity for unsportsmanlike conduct that results in punishment, leaves teammates shaking their heads and has some calling him the league’s dirtiest player. But enough about the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside!
2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Anxoious Canes sit on bubble: March Madness begins with Selection Sunday setting the men’s NCAA Tournament, with the women’s side coming Monday. Most experts think Canes men will narrowly miss out but that the UM women might sneak in. The alternative, the NIT, should be called the NOT because it ain’t the NCAA.
LeBron visits Monday as playoff chase continues: The Heat held on to the final playoff seed entering Saturday and awaited a visit by LeBron James’ Cavaliers — his second time back (first was Christmas) since leaving. Heat president Pat Riley said last week it remains “shocking to me that it happened.” C’mon, Pat. This is a “No Dwelling Zone.”
Cats running out of time to make postseason: The Panthers remained six points behind Boston for the final playoff seed with 15 games to play entering Saturday night’s skate at Carolina. The good news: Florida still has three games left against the Bruins. The bad news: Even winning all three might not be enough.
5. AUTO RACING
Miami ePrix hums through downtown streets: The first race of electric cars hummed through downtown Miami streets Saturday in one of 10 stops in its inaugural season. It was really weird to see cars going that fast with no roar of engines. But probably no weirder than the only American in the race being a driver named Scott Speed.