Greg Cote

Howard represents NBA desperation outside Miami

Give Dwight Howard credit for lessons learned. He has grown to be dislikable enough on his own over the years to not need help from LeBron James. So Howard barely made “a decision” Friday night, let alone a sequel to “The Decision.”

LeBron three years ago announced his free agency choice with confetti and heaven’s trumpets, on live national television on ESPN. Taking “my talents to South Beach” thrilled Miami only. It took LeBron a bakery of humble pie and a couple of championships to (begin to) recover from The Decision.

Howard, the most coveted free agent since, made his decision quietly, reportedly holed up in Aspen, Colo., not speaking into a microphone, perhaps speaking instead into a Hot Toddy.

Howard’s choice of Houston was not so much announced as figured out. Long-shot Atlanta was reported out. Then Mark Cuban said Dallas was out. Then it became clear he wouldn’t re-sign with the Lakers. Then Golden State got the message. At last, by process of elimination, it appeared the player who calls himself Superman would be counting James Harden’s beard as his new Robin.

Speaking for Miami, we are amused by your evolving landscape, NBA.

Here in Championville, we tinker. We re-sign Ray Allen. We endeavor to keep Chris “Birdman” Andersen. We cast an eye at Greg Oden. And we are amused by the desperation elsewhere.

We see the Brooklyn Nets mortgage their future to sign Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce — like that’s a good idea. Now we see the hierarchy out West supposedly shifted Houston’s way.

The champion Heat survey all of this with a small smile and an imperceptible nod.

Bring it on, those things say.

• A man shovels food nonstop into his gaping maw in a disgusting display of gastronomic gluttony and nauseating excess. What? Oh, you thought I meant professional eater

Joey Chestnut

winning the annual Coney Island hot dog eating contest? I meant me, in my backyard, on the Fourth of July.

• The Panthers made Finnish center

Aleksander Barkov

the No. 2 overall pick in last week’s hockey draft. He is 17 but said to be ready for the NHL. At 17, I wasn’t even ready to decide between a Whopper and a Big Mac.

• ESPN The Magazine’s “Body” issue, featuring Marlin

Giancarlo Stanton

, is out this week. It is expected to be enjoyed no other place on Earth more than in the Marlins’ clubhouse, where the all-time record for collegial ridicule may be challenged.

• had a piece examining why LeBron has not appeared in more TV endorsements. Hmm. He is all over Nike ads. He pitched Beats by Dre during the playoffs. He has major deals with McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, State Farm and Samsung, and he makes more money in endorsements — $50 million-plus per year — than any other American athlete. But other than that!

• The opening weekend of sailing’s America’s Cup off San Francisco has been a debacle, with strong wins canceling time trials and the New Zealand and Italian teams protesting new safety rules. Sports fans across America reacted with utter indifference.

Dolphin Ryan Tannehill is ranked 24th on analyst Ron Jaworski’s pre-training camp list of NFL starting quarterbacks. Choosing to see the glass half full, Dolfans have gathered outside team HQ and begun a “We’re No. 24!” chant.

• Answer: Rapper

Snoop Dogg

sent out his support to defrocked Patriot and accused murderer

Aaron Hernandez

. Question: What makes you say marijuana use can addle the brain?

• The Reds’

Homer Bailey

pitched the season’s first no-hitter, and the second of his career. How weird that a pitcher would be named Homer. Heck, how weird that


would be named Homer!

• Answer: Nationals pitcher

Gio Gonzalez

of Hialeah bought Lamborghinis for him and his brother, a Rolls-Royce for Mom, a Bentley for Dad, and a boat for his brother. Question: Can you think of an athlete who is a good bet to be broke some day?

Hip-hop mogul/sports agent Jay-Z slams rival baseball agent Scott Boras in a new song. Cannot confirm Boras will answer in a rap record of his own.

• The Texas Rangers signed

Manny Ramirez

, 41, to a minor-league contract. Remember when “Manny Being Manny” was sort of charming? At this point, Manny being still here is sort of annoying.

• Baseball umpire

Brian Runge

was fired for a failed drug test. The reasoning: Umpires are bad enough sober.

• Heat president

Pat Riley

, while with the Lakers in 1989, trademarked the word “Three-Peat.” I think I might owe Pat for the unauthorized use just now.


Parting thought:


Bobby Bowden

has accepted a marketing/promotions role with Florida State. His first suggestion: Drop the school’s politically incorrect Seminoles nickname and henceforth refer to all FSU teams as the Dadgumits.

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