Greg Cote

Greg Cote: NBA rooting interest here is now booing interest

We’re in a bit of a lull down here at the moment with our major sports teams. One year ago, South Florida had every reason to be anticipating a third championship parade in four years. Now, we’re closer to a candlelight vigil than tickertape.

The Heat uncharacteristically is out of the playoffs for the first time in seven years and now awaits the sad consolation of praying for blind luck in a draft lottery.

The Panthers try to spin the improvement they made to divert attention from the NHL playoffs going on without them for the 17th time in 21 years.

The high-hope Marlins have seen a .228 team batting average and an enthusiasm-quashing 3-7 start test early the fragile optimism they had built.

The football Hurricanes are coming off an underachieving 6-7 season with a coach under siege.

The Dolphins, though they made a cannonball splash by signing Ndamukong Suh, haven’t won a Super Bowl in what seems like four centuries.

But all is not lost as we wait to see about a Marlins turnaround.

There is still a team in play that Miami fans can adopt, rally behind and cheer like one of our own.

That team?

To paraphrase the popular bumper-sticker philosophy:

“My Two Favorite Teams Are the Heat And Whoever Is Playing LeBron James.”

▪ The Dolphins signed center Mike Pouncey to a $50 million contract extension. Here’s hoping his plans for the money do not include a new shipment of “Free Hernandez” hats.

▪ As the Fins begin their offseason conditioning program, sack man Cameron Wake cautioned that “we have work to do before crowning ourselves.” Which only was funny because nobody on the face of the Earth right now is crowning the Dolphins.

▪ Heat fans, in lieu of the playoffs, were left to feign enthusiasm for at least getting the No. 10 slot in the NBA Draft lottery. Hey, the basketball didn’t bounce right for Miami this season. Maybe the ping-pong balls will!

▪ Answer: Johnny Manziel, newly out of rehab, issued a statement telling Browns fans he was sorry. Question: Who is the only NFL quarterback with more career apologies than touchdown passes?

▪ The NFL reinstated Adrian Peterson, but he wants out of Minnesota and the Vikings won’t trade him. A.P. doesn’t need an agent, he needs a divorce lawyer.

▪ Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will rejoin the Patriots for this week’s White House visit. Why do I get the feeling Rex Ryan is also plotting a way to crash the party?

▪ University of Miami introduced incoming president Julio Frenk, and local sports writers demanded to know what he thought about the football program. Frenk answered politely instead of saying, as he might have, “I only have about 847 things on my priority list that outrank Al Golden’s future.”

▪ The ninth-ranked Hurricanes baseball team plays host to No. 13 Florida State this week as the regular season winds down and UM’s hopes for a special season grow. Totally random fact: It is 1,401 miles, on a straight shot, from Coral Gables to Omaha, Nebraska.

▪ The UM Sports Hall of Fame inducted 10 more members. I don’t wanna say it admits too many athletes, but if that hall were a country, it would now be the 37th most populous nation on Earth.

▪ FIU hired Marlin Chinn as its women’s basketball coach. Which makes him a Miami Marlin.

▪ The NBA’s four-day goodwill trip to Cuba starts Thursday. Aside to commissioner Adam Silver: If anybody suggests a photo op with anyone named Castro, find a reason why you can’t.

▪ Time magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people includes three sports figures: Silver, U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach and 21-year-old Brazilian surfer Gabriel Medina. (Assuming one of Medina’s friends hacked the Time website and added him as a joke?)

▪ Bumper sticker: “Honk If You Are Entering the NBA Draft Early.”

▪ Floyd Mayweather told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith in an interview that his upcoming megafight with Manny Pacquaio would not have happened if the two hadn’t met in Miami at a Heat game on Jan. 27. So at least one good thing came of this Heat season!

▪ Chris Bosh’s 31st birthday party featured eight food trucks and a cake in the shape of a beer mug. So it’s official, then. Bosh has run out of great birthday-party ideas.

▪ Charles Barkley is so relentless with his criticism of the Heat that every new attack has a familiar ring to it. Which, by the way, is the only ring associated with Barkley’s career.

▪ There is something funny to me about the NBA, whose typical employee is freakishly tall, testing for human growth hormone. It’s like the International Sumo Federation testing for body fat.

▪ Parting thought: The St. Louis Marathon disqualified women’s winner Kendall Schler after determining she crossed the finish line but never ran the race. There also are now suspicions about the man who claims to have won, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.

Visit Greg’s Random Evidence blog daily at MiamiHerald.com and follow on Twitter @gregcote and also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Hot list

Today: The Dolphins are to select 14th overall in the NFL Draft on April 30. Miami’s draft history when picking in roughly that slot (12th through 16th):

Year/pick

Player, pos., school

Games/grade

2011/15th

Mike Pouncey, G/C, Florida

58/B+

2006/16th

Jason Allen, S, Tennessee

71/C-

1997/15th

Yatil Green, WR, Miami

*8/Inc.

1992/12th

Marco Coleman, LB, Georgia Tech

63/C+

1988/16th

Eric Kumerow, DE, Ohio State

42/D

1987/16th

John Bosa, DE, Boston College

31/D

1984/14th

Jackie Shipp, LB, Oklahoma

71/C-

1981/13th

David Overstreet, RB, Oklahoma

*15/Inc.

1977/13th

A.J. Duhe, DE, Lousiana State

119/B+

Note: From this list only Duhe and Pouncey (who is still active) made a Pro Bowl with Miami. Games are number played for team; grade is Greg Cote’s estimation of how selection worked out for Dolphins. *Overstreet signed with CFL, played 1983 season with Miami, then died in car accident June 24, 1984. Green’s career was aborted by recurring major knee injuries.

1. NBA

No Heat, but NBA playoffs begin anyway: With Miami on the outside for first time since 2008, the NBA playoffs begin with LeBron James’ Cavaliers and Steph Curry’s Warriors the betting co-favorites to reach the Finals. Meantime, Miami somehow lost the playoff spot to Boston and Brooklyn even though it was 7-1 against those teams. “SMH,” said Heat fans. (Shaking My Head.)

2. MARLINS

Rough start to season for optimistic Fish: Dee Gordon is hot and Giancarlo Stanton hit his team-record 155th career homer, but the bats have mostly been quiet during the Marlins’ 3-7 start. Gordon and Mat Latos have begun using a small hoop and foam basketball to dunk on the hero after walk-off wins. The way this season is going, the stunt will result in all three being injured.

3. LEGAL SYSTEM

Ex-Patriot Hernandez guilty of murder: Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison. Jurors said they were “shocked” defense lawyer James Sultan admitted Hernandez witnessed the murder even though no testimony or evidence had placed him at the scene. Opposing defenses were seldom a problem for Hernandez, but apparently his own defense was.

4. NHL

Stanley Cup playoffs start without Cats (again): The hockey postseason is under way, and many experts see the New York Rangers as favorites to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994. That was one year after a team from Canada last won it all, a now-22-year drought for the birthplace of hockey. Modified national anthem to play at arenas during playoffs: “Oh No, Canada.”

5. GOLF

Next Tiger? Spieth wins Masters, electrifies a sport: Jordan Spieth, 21, impressively won the Masters and immediately I saw a poll asking whether Spieth would shatter the record by surpassing 20 career major wins. Tap the brakes, please. Talking 20 majors after No. 1 is like mentioning the Cy Young Award on Opening Day after the pitcher retires the side in the top of the first.

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