Greg Cote

It’ll take a village, or vineyard, for Heat to beat odds

The story has grown from a rich anecdote to Heat legend and lore in only a year, because it is so perfect.

Coach Erik Spoelstra is despondent and at wits end after a particularly crushing loss to San Antonio during last season’s NBA Finals, when suddenly he hears a knock on his hotel door. It is club president and sage Pat Riley, bearing three bottles of wine.

Well, the rest became history, the road to a championship restored, after mentor and protégé spent the wee hours breaking down film and scheming improvement despite being increasingly drunk.

OK I made up that last part, but, c’mon! Two guys? Three bottles of wine? I’d imagine by the end of the night Spoelstra and Riley were playing Twister, howling karaoke, crank-calling Micky Arison or drawing up plays in which LeBron James dribbled upcourt carrying Norris Cole on his shoulders.

Now, down 3-1 in the Finals entering Game 5 on Sunday in San Antonio — after two home losses by a combined 40 points — things are even more dire than that low point a year ago.

All Heat fans can hope is that Riley knocked on Spoelstra’s hotel door last night pulling one of those bellman’s luggage carts stacked with crates of wine.

If three bottles got it done a year ago, this may take a vineyard.

• ESPN reported the Heat has been in internal talks to figure out a way to acquire

Carmelo Anthony

in free agency and create a Big 4. Too bad that, instead, the Heat hadn’t been in internal talks to figure out a way to acquire a win or two earlier this week.

• Like a rash,

Donald Sterling

won’t go away. Now the disgraced, racist Clippers owner says he won’t sell the team and reportedly has hired private eyes to dig up dirt on other team owners. Sterling is the NBA’s biggest recent embarrassment, not counting the Heat’s home performances in Finals Games 3 and 4.

• The month-long soccer World Cup started this week as host Brazil vowed to begin stadium construction at the earliest opportunity.

• Brazil began with a win over Croatia. I love Brazil’s flowing style but mostly its names, which are not only singular but often weird. For example, two of its players are




. I wish this became a trend in America, and the Super Bowl was won on a 48-yard pass from





• Did I mention that Italy has a player named

Ciro Immobile


• Brazil is the World Cup betting favorite. The only better odds are that the referee in every game will make a horrible call and be chased around the globe by angry mobs of fans carrying torches, pitchforks and vuvuzelas.

• England and Honduras played to a 0-0 draw in Miami in a World Cup tuneup, in what soccer experts noted was an unusually high-scoring game.

• The Los Angeles Kings entered the weekend poised to win their second Stanley Cup trophy in three seasons. L.A. residents are too laid back and disinterested for a ticker-tape parade but did plan to acknowledge the championship with a collective nod.

• As the Panthers continue their search for a new coach they also prepare for the June 27 NHL draft, in which they have the No. 1 overall pick. A mock draft has the Cats taking defenseman

Aaron Ekblad

. AWRIGHT! “Ekblad! Ekblad!”

• A new proposal would have Dolphins owner

Stephen Ross

pay for $350 million in stadium renovations and get $4 million back from the county for every Super Bowl he attracts. Hmm. Calculator, please. [Click, tap.] Yep, bring 88 Super Bowls here and it’s all profit from there!


Rafael Nadal

won record ninth French Open and fifth in a row. He doesn’t merely kill on clay. He kilns. [Bad Joke Explainer: A kiln is a type of oven used in baking clay into pots and ceramics.]

• California Chrome owner

Steve Coburn

railed after his horse fell short of the Triple Crown, blasting Belmont winner Tonality for taking the “coward’s way out” by skipping the first two races. Asked for a response, Tonality just sort of stared blankly and snorted like horses do.

• Marlins slugger

Giancarlo Stanton

was second in National League All-Star voting, severely hampering my desire to make fun of how awful fans are at voting.

• The Marlins tied a record with a 13th consecutive interleague win, a reminder that only Guinness keeps track of more obscure records than baseball does.

• Tampa Bay manager

Joe Maddon

brought in a Seminole Indian medicine man to help cure his slumping Rays. Hey, if you’re going to have the worst record in the majors, at least be entertaining.


Pete Rose

, 73, is to manage one game Monday for the independent minor-league Bridgeport (Connecticut) Bluefish. Suggested opening quote in Rose’s pregame news conference: “Bet I win!”

• The Atlanta Falcons will star in the new season of HBO’s

Hard Knocks

. Is it me, or are all the good, interesting teams saying no?

• Pabst Blue Ribbon’s owner is thinking of buying the Buffalo Bills. The new name will grow on you. The Buffalo Beers.

• The win last week by

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

, NASCAR’s most popular driver, guaranteed him a spot in the final Chase for the Sprint Cup field. “Thank you, Lord!” said ratings-minded Chase network ESPN.

• The annual Orange Bowl game reportedly is switching title sponsors from Discover to Capital One, begging the question: “Who gives a crap!?”


Parting thought:


David Beckham

. Used to getting his way on charm, Becks has now been turned down twice on stadium sites off Biscayne Bay for his proposed Miami MLS soccer team. Hell-bent on a waterfront stadium, Beckham is now asking the city if it would be willing to move the ocean 10 miles inland.

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