Dwyane Wade’s Legacy Born During Game 3 of 2006 Finals

“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose” — Langston Hughes




Dwyane Wade.

It all began in Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals. I remember. I was there. I am a witness.

Under the flame-hot lights of the American Airlines Arena, sweat stained prayers and seared nerves on edge. Moist palms and bloodshot eyes. Do or die. Down two games to none. Drowning in anxiety.

In the thicket of the pre-game introduction anticipation, he emerged. A heroic figure enveloped in an entire city’s hopes who would alter the Miami sports landscape forever.

Unflinching. Eyes set. Muscles tense.

“I ain’t going out that way,” he had told the team.

It was 2006 and the Miami Heat had never known what it was like to truly matter. Sure, there were the Mourning-Hardaway led teams of the 1990s, but we all knew those were futile cat-like swipes at Michael Jordan’s inevitable championship runs, the proverbial hurdle to his immortality. Those Heat teams were fun, but we weren’t getting to the Finals as long as 23 ruled the land. We were just happy to bruise up the eventual champs and maybe taste some New York Knick blood along the way.

But this was 2006. This was different. You could feel it. You could smell it. You could taste it. Down 0-2 to the Dallas Mavericks. Backs to the wall.

A franchise on the brink.

Dwyane Wade, draped in home playoff white, like an Arthurian warrior of old, or the Archangel Michael ready to lay waste the mighty dragon and hurl it into the abyss. Dwyane Wade, the young handsome hero, baby-faced with an iron will. Dwyane Wade, the human lightning bolt, hurdling himself through the Dallas defense at such break-neck speeds, Mavs fans still, to this day, think he was never fouled in that series. How can you foul a wraith? How do you grasp water? How can you contain fire?

Dwyane Wade, the ultimate paragon of badassery. Dwyane Wade, a no-frills franchise alterer with an entire city’s thirst for immortality on his shoulders.

Dwyane Motherfucking Wade.

Dallas, looking for the Darth Vader death-grip 3-0 lead in the series, led by as much as 13 with 6:50 remaining in Game 3. Dirk Nowitzki draining jumpers and creating for his teammates, the Mavs bench erupting with jubilation, waving towels. The home crowd sullen, restless, counting down the minutes ’til doom.

And then, it happened.

Dwyane Wade emerged.

He began to eviscerate the Dallas Mavericks.

Sitting in the crowd that night was surreal. A veritable blurred stew of emotions, fear, joy, trepidation, triumph. Everyone wearing White Hot Heat shirts. A blanket of pearl blending into a blinding white fury of sound and vision. Screaming faces becoming melted distorted living Edvard Munch paintings. The carousel swirl of music and cheering frenzy muffled into a low dull baritone clamor. This was important. You felt it in your chest. You knew it mattered. All at once, the memories of Heat games of days past flashed like old-timey press camera lightbulbs in your mind. The old Miami Arena. Ron Rothstein. Rory Sparrow. The franchise’s first win. A lovable sad-sack team. Two playoff appearances in the first eight years. Pat Riley’s introduction. The Knicks. Jeff Van Gundy swinging on Alonzo Mourning’s leg like a pasty balding monkey. Allan Houston…. Allan Houston… Allan Goddamn FML Houston… heartache. Heart break. Somebody save us.

Somebody did.

Throughout his career — as we have come to learn — Wade has always flourished when the games mattered most and there was something at stake. When adversity reared its repugnant head, when guys in purple shirts screamed obscenities at him from their court side seats with their drunken red-raged faces. This is when Wade arrived, jaw clenched, eyes set, ever the conqueror.

But it was against the Dallas Mavericks, in Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals, that this Wade that we have grown to know and love and cherish, was born.

Down 0-2, with a humiliating Finals loss to a ridiculous franchise and their cowboy-hat, rhinestone encrusted shirt-wearing imbecilic fanbase looming. Wade got that look in his eyes. The kind that said it was enough already with all of this “the Heat are being bested by a superior opponent and are just happy to be here” nonsense, and that it was time to club some serious ass and rip Maverick scrotums off their bodies and staple them to Mark Cuban’s forehead.

We had caught glimpses of it prior to this — The Shot against Charlotte in the 2004 playoffs, his ridiculous owning of the Detroit Pistons in the 2005 and 2006 playoffs.

But this was where the artist champion icon was born.

This is where the D-Wade we have fully come to know became D-Wade, Destroyer of Worlds. His career spans the vortex of NBA immortality, a career representing doom for the other team, compared to, say Paul Pierce, which represents a melted cheesy gordita.

So, with Dallas cruising along, and the Heat flailing to find their footing, Dwyane Wade emerged, the perfect amalgam of death and grace, and reached into Dallas’ collective chest and ripped out their heart and their championship aspirations.

Relentlessly attacking the basket in a blur of pure poetry, with an unrivaled prowess of being able to slash through towering bodies like a snaking river of ball-crushing swiftness, Dwyane Wade arrived.

Hitting jumpers, sending up alley-oops, breaking the Mavs’ wills, sapping them of their strength, devouring their souls, making us all believers. Not only would the Heat end up winning this game 98-96 on Wade’s back, but he made us believe — actually truly believe — that this series was over. Even down 1-2, you just knew. The coronation of a new King of Badass Motherfucker had begun.

Wade would go on to finish Game 3 with 42 points on 26 shots, and 13 rebounds. And, of course, we’d see this Wade again and again for the next three games as the Heat would go on to win their first NBA Finals title.

We would also go on to see this Wade time and time again. The “This Is My House” game. All those Detroit, and Chicago playoff series. The dunk that ripped Anderson Varajoe’s soul from his lifeless Sideshow Bob body. All of 2009. The 2010 All Star Game. The playoff battles against Boston. The Alley-Oop to LeBron. The future NBA Finals victories. Purple Shirt Guy. The shot against Golden State.

And we see it every night, even now as our once and future artist champion icon walks away from the game he loves.

Look up into the rafters. Behold the three NBA Finals Champions banners that hang down majestic and true.

Look at that first one.

2006 NBA Finals Champions.

And remember Game 3.

The game where Dwyane Wade, artist, champion, icon, was born. The moment he drew Excalibur from the stone and made us matter.


Chris Joseph’s legacy was born the day he gave LeBron James the nickname that the former Heat superstar would carry forever. It starts with Cobra. 

Open Letter to Dwyane, from a Fan


Before I start…. this is not a post for pity.

It’s out of deep appreciation, for the impact you made on my life, and in the lives of other kids like me.

Growing up, life hadn’t always been easy. Having been born with a heart condition that eventually led to two open heart surgeries, on separate occasions of course, played a role I guess.

Throughout childhood, my parents went through an ugly divorce that lasted more than a decade. It was in during this time when I needed a distraction, badly.

You were my distraction.

When I needed something to keep my mind otherwise occupied, I knew I could turn a Heat game on and, for 48 minutes, all my problems would disappear. Every time I watched, I knew you would do something I had never seen before. And when you did, I would go in to my closet, throw on my Wade jersey and try to do it myself in my driveway.

The awe and joy you brought me as a kid are remarkable in retrospect. I’ll never forget being in front of my TV with my parents; it was 2006, game 6. My first time being so close to peak sports fandom: watching your favorite team win the championship. I can close my eyes and relive that exact moment. Jason Terry taking a shot and missing, you getting the rebound and throwing the ball in the air. The Miami Heat were champions. Then you gave me that joy twice more in 2012 and 2013.

That joy occasionally came with consequences though.

March 9th, 2009, the night before the FCAT. I’m sure most of those who also went to school in Florida have some downright awful memories about the FCAT— for those who aren’t Florida natives, it was a standardized test we took in school to determine if we would move on to the next grade.

Anyways…my brother and I were up late that night watching the game. Deep into the second overtime, we knew we would regret doing so. Then, with time expiring, you got a steal and hit the game winner. You ran to the scorer’s table and introduced your iconic “This is my House” pose.

Come the next morning,  I was extremely exhausted and had to take the FCAT. Admittedly, I didn’t do as well as I hoped, which may or may not have to do with my choices…  I don’t think my mom knows about this story, so if you’re reading this mom, I’m sorry but I had to!

You were always an inspiration for me; in 5th grade during Black History month, we had to go to school dressed as our favorite African-American influencer and write a report on that person. Of course, I chose you. I arrived at school that day in black basketball shorts, my white # 3 jersey and some converse. I took pride in showing off to my classmates and their parents just how much you had influenced me.

Flashing forward to 2015, I was in Miami sleeping at my uncle’s house. The next day I was having my second heart surgery. My mind was racing the whole night. The Heat were in Los Angeles that same night and, despite my impending surgery early the next morning, I needed a distraction.  I stayed up late watching that game. And it was a comforting moment, something that made all my thoughts and fears go away; watching you play whenever I needed relief from something serious kind of became my routine at this point.

The next year on July 6th, 2016, I was in the Netherlands visiting my grandparents. Because of the time difference or jetlag, maybe both, I woke up at 3AM. I checked my phone and saw a “WOJ bomb” on my phone. It read that you were informing the Bulls your intentions to sign with them. After 13 great seasons, you were actually leaving. I felt upset, saddened too. I mean, I was happy you were finally being appreciated and moving on to greater things within the league. But it felt like my childhood was over.

Afterward, I just started to watch basketball differently; lost my connection to the players.

Then it happened, on February 18 of 2018. I was at a Chick-Fil-A with my girlfriend and a notification popped up on my phone— “The Cleveland Cavaliers are trading Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat.” I was so hyped, nearly to the point of tears. I said to my girlfriend, “Wade is home!!!”

I think she got a little weirded out.

But that’s OK. You needed to have connection to understand. And so many of us did, not just me. College students, hundreds of miles away from Miami, started talking about it. We were young again. Or younger.

In a time when you didn’t need to, you came back to give us one more chance to show you our love and gratitude. So, thank you Dwyane, thank you for giving us this one last dance. Thank you for the memories, thank you for what you did to the community, thank you for getting me through some dark times and thank you for my childhood.

Wade County isn’t something that ends at the city limits, Wade County is a generation of kids who fell in love with their favorite sport because of their hero.

Thank you, Flash.

— Dutch


Michael “Dutch” Sonbeek, based in Pembroke Pines, contributes to Fantasy On 5, Swings and Mishes and a host of other things on the Five Reasons Sports Network. 

Less #Culture, Better #Planning for Heat

The Scavenger’s Miami Heat success story all-but-officially ended with five minutes left in Sunday’s fourth quarter in Toronto, checking out for Dwyane Wade with the score tied at 93 and exactly five minutes left in the fourth quarter. It was reasonable that Rodney McGruder wouldn’t play beyond that; after all, while it’s entirely unclear which players Erik Spoelstra should and does trust at this late stage of the season, the one he absolutely always and rightly will is Dwyane Wade. Spoelstra first surprised me back in the 2015-16 season, after Wade missed a buzzer three-pointer against Charlotte, with one of the coach’s sharpest quotes, that he would go to his grave with Wade taking the last shot at the end of the game. It is a statement Spoelstra has repeated frequently since, most recently after Miami fell in Minnesota as Wade missed from deep just prior to the gun. And they remain words to live by, regardless of what the math may have sometimes said.

So, no, there’s absolutely no issue with Wade entering and McGruder exiting there, nor with the plan to get Wade the ball on the final possession of Sunday’s regulation, with the contest tied at 103. It didn’t work in part because the official gave the ball to the wrong guy, Dion Waiters, allowing Kawhi Leonard to claw on to Wade like a crowd of rabid fans in the center of Shanghai. And it didn’t work in part because nothing really has for the Heat this frustrating, forgettable season, other than that one Wade miracle against the Warriors, which feels a lot like what the Dolphins did to the eventual champion Patriots with that fancy lateral play — a flash of fun signifying nothing. McGruder would re-enter, by the way, with 39.6 seconds left in overtime, subbing in for James Johnson with the Heat down seven. After that garbage time, he would be tossed into the trash, sent to waivers to get the Heat under the luxury tax if someone claims him, since this is a squad that ownership decided, quite correctly, didn’t warrant the allocation of even more money and the suffering of other related penalties.

But what did this season warrant exactly?

And how was it so doomed from the start?

Those are the burning questions to take into the offseason. That’s what the Heat must determine. That’s the self-scouting they must embark upon, engage in, and endure. How did this go so horribly wrong, with so many competent people in charge, in the most competent organization in South Florida sports by a landslide no Democrat in Broward County has ever enjoyed, in one of the smartest and most stable organizations in all of professional sports for an eternity? How did they bungle this so badly? How could they sign so many slightly above-average players to such exorbitant agreements — with none of those players really wanted on the floor at the end of games that mattered? How could they misread the market so significantly? How could they be so stubborn as to continue to push forward this season when pulling back may have made more sense, only to see this team win more than three straight games only once, and now slump on the precipice of losing six straight games at the finish?

How could they not learn from the #HeatLifer catastrophe — a backhanded slap at LeBron James that backfired badly when they later pushed the franchise’s only  truly irreplaceable personality to justifiably storm off — to spend several years pushing the #HeatCulture narrative, only to get played by it, giving James Johnson one of the odder contracts in franchise history after he kept quoting the catchphrase on social media, and giving Waiters the second-oddest after he did the same (even in a column in Players Tribune), only for Waiters to wait on ankle surgery and return in something hardly resembling Riley’s Heat condition? Yes, #HeatCulture exists, in the player development, in the work ethic. But even that slogan can only go so far, as we saw Sunday with McGruder who, for his weaknesses, embodied it as much as anyone but Udonis Haslem on the current roster. No one should blame the Arisons for wanting to get under, even if it meant gifting Wayne Ellington and his 12.1 points per game on 38.1 percent three-point shooting to the Detroit Pistons, a playoff-chasing rival; even if meant the Heat seeming to suppress Kelly Olynyk’s minutes during the team’s choppy January to avoid a tax kicker (he ended up exceeding it); even if it meant cutting against the #HeatCulture narrative to cut the gritty guard McGruder (a starter for too much of this season) with two games left.

That’s not the issue.

The issue is that we cannot possibly justify them paying it.

Not for what that payroll has produced — basically a .500 record over three years.

Some in our network have tried to make excuses for the Heat, pretty much all season, and even now.

And yes, you can line up some of them.

It wasn’t ideal for the Heat’s trade ambitions to be aired during training camp, with that extending into the season until Jimmy Butler was finally sent to Philadelphia — that uncertainty for players (and likely some unhappiness) made this a particularly challenging team to coach. The injuries have hurt, particularly the extended absence of Goran Dragic, who should still be appreciated more than he is, even if his presence makes it more complicated to allow Justise Winslow to flourish. And sure, the timing of Winslow and Josh Richardson getting sidelined was terrible, with Richardson not just once but twice. Yes, some of the officiating of late has seemed to cut against the Heat more than it’s worked for them.

But think of all that’s broken right.

Who expected Hassan Whiteside to handle himself so maturely this season after the way last season ended, especially after he got shuttled to the bench? Credit to him, and to the Heat, for that happening. But if you were told that Whiteside would be a consistent contributor throughout, that Wade at age 37 after a summer of uncertainty would still be scoring 21 in the final week, and that Winslow and Bam Adebayo would make such noticeable strides, would you envision the Heat slipping in the standings from sixth to ninth or maybe even 10th? Falling from 44-38 to no better than 40-42, and possibly 38-44? That they would miss the playoffs, while mostly trying, in this conference, falling behind the rosters that Brooklyn, Detroit and Orlando are running out there?

No, you wouldn’t.

And so it can’t be excused. We can excuse the Dolphins, the Marlins, the Panthers. They haven’t known better. Or, they’ve known better, but they haven’t done better. Over and over. We can’t excuse this franchise. We can’t accept it from this one. This one is our only hope. This one doesn’t rely on gimmicky, unattainable slogans, this one doesn’t try to paper its problems by compelling its fans to chase squirrels (look, Vice Jerseys! hey #OneLastDance!); this one has never acted as if mediocrity is enough. (The old Heat would laugh as Orlando celebrating a Southeast Division title tonight.). This one doesn’t put itself where it is, ending a season prior to America’s Tax Day, then making news by cutting a player two games prior to the end of the season reduce its own NBA tax. This one, with five minutes left in a critical game, has at least five players its coach can count on. Or at least three. Night after night. Play after play. And yet, too often, it was Wade. Only Wade.

But, no, no one should get fired. No one should get reassigned. No one should get prematurely retired, certainly not the person who made basketball matter in this place. This braintrust has earned enough trust over time to avoid such a call, at least for this offseason. That, however, can’t last forever, because it never does in sports. Joe Dumars built a champion in Detroit, and then he brought in chumps, and then he got chomped. There are countless such examples. We are concluding #OneLastDance, and that should finish in a blaze of Wade glory. Loyal No. 3 has earned the right to take every single shot he wants the last two games, from anywhere at any time. He’s the one — other than flashes of the Kids — who has made this season somewhat tolerable, and he’s done it appearance after appearance for a relative pittance, and we shudder to think what next season will be like when he isn’t around to offer Heat supporters a nostalgic distraction, a pump-faking testament to what was once so good here. But after #OneLastDance will come #OneLastChance for this Miami Heat front office, to make the fans believe again. Because right now, that belief is as out the door as #HeatCulture and the symbol of this season — the likable but limited Rodney McGruder.


Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) has covered the Miami Heat since most of Miami Heat Beat was in diapers — and reminds them of such, in irritating fashion, every day. 

Marlins fans, are you not entertained?

Sports are simply entertainment. Let me say it again. Sports are simply entertainment. This website is simply “E Online” with alternative storylines. Sports…are simply entertainment.

Okay. Let’s talk about the Marlins.

I felt it was important to preface this piece with that fact because I couldn’t care less what the Marlins’ record is this season. The Marlins could lose over 100 games this year and be the worst team in baseball and I wouldn’t care because, after these first two series, I know one crucial thing: They’re going to entertain us.

It’s all about the starting pitching. While I think Jose Ureña will rebound from a rocky first couple of starts, I am focused mostly on the four young guns (yes, I know Ureña is only 27, but we pretty much know what he is at this point). Some of the fanbase has referred to them as the #BabyFacedAces — 25-year-old Trevor Richards, 23-year-old Pablo López, 23-year-old Sandy Alcántara, and 27-year-old Caleb Smith.

Richards is a Miami Heat-esque development project — an undrafted free agent who the Marlins have turned into a front-line starter. López was a result of the David Phelps trade in 2017. You remember Marlins superstar David Phelps? Alcántara has the most hype around him as the key piece of the Marcell Ozuna trade from before last season. And Caleb Smith was traded alongside Garrett Cooper (your Opening Day Right Fielder before his injury) from the Yankees in the first trade of the new Derek Jeter led regime. All of these arms are headed into their second season with the big club, and all of them will entertain you.

The stuff is not a question with any of them. In fact, the only one who might have a stuff issue is Trevor Richards, who probably has the best changeup in baseball.

Everything Pablo throws twists and turns more than Sarah Sanders’ reasoning when asked why the President’s tweets what he tweets.

Oh. You’re a big fan of Sandy? Tell me more, tell me more. Watching him throw on Sunday had everyone watching calling him a…

And Caleb Smith…well, even though he’s aloof enough to dodge pictures and avoid being in our graphic at the top of this page, he might actually be the best of them all. The lefty of the crew came off a lat injury that ended his solid 2018 campaign and earned his way back into the rotation with a dominant spring.

After the first 7 games, Richards is the only one of this group to have made 2 starts. In their 5 combined starts, the group has collectively allowed just 22 hits while striking out 32 and maintaining a 2.67 ERA in 30.1 innings pitched. That’s pure dominance. It’s early — I mean it is WAY too early — to talk about any of this type of stuff, BUT if that combined ERA were the ERA of a singular pitcher in 2018, he would have had the third best ERA in the National League behind only Jacob deGrom, Aaron Nola, and Max Scherzer.

I do get the concern with the team, though. I know I am looking at this through proverbial rose colored glasses, and I am choosing to be more positive than most people who have been rooting for this since since its inception. There are plenty of things people around the South Florida sports landscape have wanted to complain about headed into this season: attendance, a lack of spending, and a likely lack of winning. But to that that I say…why?

The attendance has been problem for the Marlins since they played in, what was at the time, Joe Robbie Stadium.

Spending was not going to fix much in the lineup, so wouldn’t you rather the team who has a publicly financed stadium spend responsibly when it will actually put them over the top?

And, yes. We know. They traded the MVP. Then traded the next MVP. Then, in my mind, there’s a damn good shot they traded to following year’s MVP in J.T. Realmuto. I, once again, don’t really care. Does that make me foolish? Probably. But the team was not in a position to win consistently or sustainably, and the moves had to be made. We saw the results of that roster. We can cry about it or we can move forward and choose to be excited about beautiful, revamped stadium and a team that could, with a plethora of pitching in the farm system following these #BabyFacedAces, be the Braves of the 90’s in the next few years. You never know.

So, while the Marlins offense this season will likely leave a lot to be desired regardless of their *techinically* hot start, they will be in nearly every game, and that’s pretty much all you can ask for in a team you root for. They’ve been tied or in the lead in the 6th inning in all but 1 of the starts from these young arms, and that is fun. There will probably be 15 to 20 games this season the team gets the breaks beat of of ‘em right from the start — young guys are bound to have off days — but that means there will be 140 games where you can go to the new-look park or sit at home and watch on TV and know your team will have a shot to win.

That is entertaining, and like I said, sports are simply entertainment.


Jeremy Tache, who also works for WSVN-7, is known as our resident optimist — and songbird. 

WrestleMania 35 Predictions! Because We Know!


As I do every year, I will be home with my 15 year old daughter Ashley watching the event, with many snacks and even more Beer.  Of course,  I will explain the finer points in the story telling of the matches, as she will just be rooting for her favorites, because, well, she is a fan.  I, as a grown man, prefer to believe that there is greater meaning and art in the proceedings.  –Alfredo Arteaga (@UptownReport)

NxT TakeOver was epic and New Japan G1 Super Card is putting on an impressive show as I type this.  It was a great weekend of wrestling that will be topped off by the Grand Daddy of them all, WrestleMania and I will be in attendance.  That’s right, my family and I are on our way to the enemy’s stadium to watch professional wrestling’s version of the Super Bowl.  As a dude that has watched wrasslin’ for the better part of his life, I’m stoked to say the least. – Josh Houtz (@Houtz)

Now, Alfredo, Ashley and Houtz’s WrestleMania 35 predictions.

Women’s Battle Royal

Alfredo: Wow, so they put the bathroom break right at the top of the show this year.  There is no way that they open the show with what is in essence all the women they couldn’t build matches for, to just scurry about in a pointless battle royal.  There must be a surprise?  Has to be better than the rumored Eve Torres “return”.  Naomi returns this year to defend her title.  Admit it, you didn’t know she won last year.

Houtz: There are a number of women wrestlers that have not been given a fair opportunity on the main roster.  And considering WWE released a promotional image for the Battle Royal and only 10 women were showcased, I would imagine there are only so many options in this match.  Yes, there will be several “surprise entrants” and Lacy Evans will probably continue doing nothing. Nevertheless, my pick for the Women’s Battle Royal is…. Becky Lynch!  Why not have her come down to the ring and throw every remaining women’s wrestler over the top rope, before winning both titles later in the night.  It would be a perfect moment.

My Pick:  The Surprise entrant to be named later.

Ashley’s Pick:  Naomi

Houtz’s Pick: Becky Lynch


Andre the Giant Battle Royal

Alfredo: This was a good idea that quickly went bad.  From brief, somewhat compelling, Rob Gronkowski appearances.  As a fan of the product, you kinda get what this one is all about every year, and you tend to care even less.  Braun Strowman has never won this event.  It’s his time.  Did I get you excited for this? Yeah, I know. I might just grill burgers for the first hour of this year’s show.

Houtz: Alf and I did not discuss our picks prior to this article, nor have we talked about WrestleMania at all.  So when we both say Rob Gronkowski is going to have a role in this year’s PPV, the stars are starting to align.  We all know those two guys from Saturday Night Live are also in this year’s Andre the Giant invitational.  I refer to them as “those guys” because I don’t know who they are.  In the end, Rob Gronkowski helps Mojo Rawley for the majority of the match, before throwing him over the top rope for the win.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Braun Strowman

Ashley’s Pick:  Braun Strowman

Houtz’s Pick: Rob Gronkowski


Cruiserweight Championship

Buddy Murphy © vs Tony Nese

Alfredo: At this point, you scrolled down to see what I have to say about the matches you care about, and I don’t blame you.  Ashley assures me that Buddy Murphy has had a great push and is on a long running undefeated streak since returning.  I make it known that the Internet Wrestling Database has his career record at 108 Wins, 185 Losses and 3 draws.  Good god this guy is terrible.

Houtz: My #sauces tell me that Buddy Murphy is dating/married/engaged/going steady with WrestleMania host Alexa Bliss.  He’s also been the reigning, defending, Cruiserweight Champion for a very long time.  I don’t know what a Tony Nese is but I don’t think he’s the guy to end Murphy’s reign.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Buddy Murphy

Ashley’s Pick:  Buddy Murphy

Houtz’s Pick: Buddy Murphy


Smackdown Tag Titles

USO’s © vs Nakamura & Rusev vs Aleister Black & Ricochet vs The Bar

Alfredo: Remember when “The Bar” was a thing? No. Neither do I, but Cesaro definitely was.  Any match with Cesaro in it, is going to have moments and if you remember his work with Sami Zayn in NXT, you know he is the perfect match to work with a “high flyer/athletic type”.  That brings us to the team of Aleister Black and Ricochet.  The very best anywhere in this brand of wrestling.  Oh yeah, this match has the USO’s/Nakamura/Rusev too.  It’s been a loooong fall from grace for Nakamura, but a Tag Title can start that up, right? No chance.  I’m here for the Black/Ricochet team.

Houtz: Black and Ricochet were unable to beat War Machine at NxT TakeOver on Friday and afterward, had a heartfelt moment in the ring.  Is this their official call up to the main roster?  Will they win the Smackdown Tag Titles?  My theory is that Black and Ricochet were never supposed to get the push they did.  Instead, DIY was the intended Tag Team Champions.  Unfortunately, Ciampa’s injury made that impossible, so here we are.  Ricochet and Black have their first of many WrestleMania moments.  AND NEWWWW……

Alfredo’s Pick:  Black/Ricochet

Ashley’s Pick:  Black/Ricochet

Houtz’s Pick: Black/Ricochet


Kurt Angle vs Baron Corbin

Alfredo: This match makes me sad.  First of all, because Angle “supposedly” is riding off into the sunset and secondly, because his fairwell match opponent is….Baron Corbin?  Slacks and Suit Vest and all.  Somebody, somewhere, in WWE creative thought this was a good idea. It’s not.  Which leads me to believe there has to be something more to this.  A “Swerve” that manages to pit the corpse of The Undertaker in this match to replace Corbin?  See, I can do WWE creatives job.  I mean, really?  Baron Corbin.

Houtz: Kurt Angle is a WWE Hall of Famer and won an Olympic medal with a broken freaking neck.  Baron Corbin on the other hand, is nothing more than a parasite, that somehow continues to get big-time matches in wrestling’s biggest events.  Fortunately, Kurt Angle is going to win this match with relative ease, ending his prolific wrestling career.  Thank you, Kurt.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Kurt Angle

Ashley’s Pick:  Kurt Angle

Houtz’s Pick: Kurt Angle


The Miz vs Shane McMahon (Falls count anywhere)

Alfredo: Falls count anywhere?  Yes.  Shane McMahon jumping from the top of the Met Life Stadium sign?  Yes.  The Miz?  Yes. There is a lot to like here, even though the build to this match has been less than inspiring.  I had even forgotten that these two had a feud.  Oh well, at least we can look forward to what crazy and probably ill-advised stunt, Shane is going to pull.

Houtz: This is one of the harder matches to gauge, because both wrestlers are more than capable of winning.  Shane McMahon will almost certainly jump from coast to coast, and at some point during the match, many will think he has passed.  The Miz however, is fighting for “his family” which means he will likely beat the living hell out of Shane and get the win.  For his family of course.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Shane McMahon

Ashley’s Pick:  The Miz

Houtz’s Pick: The Miz


Women’s Tag titles

Sasha & Bayley © vs Nia Jax & Tamina vs The Iconics is vs Natalia & Beth Phoenix

Alfredo: The Newly formed Women’s Tag Title Division found worthy champs in the Boss and Hug connection, but have not found worthy in-ring competitors.  There is just so many times you can have some different incarnation of “The Riott Squad” job to them on national TV.  So enter Natty-Beth Phoenix.  That alone should have been the match, but they insisted on putting 4 other women in this match to take up space.  The Iconics are fun, but are pretty far out of their depth in this one.  Nia Jax will surely do some spots that risk life and limb for some of these women, and Tamina is.  Well, Tamina.  Not a fan of a quadruple threat title match.  Much less, a Tag match.

Houtz: When the WWE announced they were going to add Tag Team Titles to the Women’s division, I was rather excited.  After all, women’s wrestling has become larger than life over the last few years and adding a pair of Tag titles is exactly what they were missing.  Obviously Bayley and Sasha are the best damn Women’s tag team on the planet!  Or are they?  There’s a very good chance Natalia & Beth Phoenix win for nostalgia sake. However, I’m putting all my money on the girls with the god awful accents from down under.  After defeating The Boss and Hug connection, the Women’s Tag Team division will officially become…..ICCOONNICCCC

Alfredo’s Pick:  Natty-Beth Phoenix

Ashley’s Pick:  The Boss and Hug connection

Houtz’s Pick: The Iconics


United States Championship

Rey Mysterio vs Samoa Joe ©

Alfredo: We have seen this script before.  Rey Mysterio, the clever, smallish, loveable underdog vs. the imposing brute in Samoa Joe.  We usually know how it ends.  With the crowd favorite little guy and his arm raised.  But this is Samoa Joe.  One of the best and most “believable” workers in DIS BIZZNEZZ.  This Match should deliver, and while my daughter will be rooting hard for Rey Mysterio, I will be chanting “JOE IS GONNA KILL YOU.” Here’s to hoping for a great match, and for the dismemberment (not literally) of Ole’ Rey and the squashing of this common WWE storyline.

Houtz: My brother in law is a very wise man.  He brought up a good point, and that was that this was Samoa Joe’s first WrestleMania which means there’s a very good chance he retains the title.  However, Rey Mysterio came back to the WWE for a reason.  And in doing so, I believe he was promised one last opportunity to make his mark at the biggest PPV of the year.  Sure, I hope Samoa Joe dismantles Mysterio, before finishing him off with a powerbomb on the ring apron. But I think one last 619 prevails, before he ultimately loses a rematch on Tuesday’s Smackdown.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Samoa Joe

Ashley’s Pick:  Rey Mysterio

Houtz’s Pick: Rey Mysterio


Intercontinental Championship

Bobby Lashley © vs Finn Balor (Demon)

Alfredo: The WWE did it again.  They took what could have been a cool, memorable Mania’ moment in the reveal of “Demon” Balor in a title match at a WWE PPV, and just announced that it was going to happen.  I guess, anything to drum up interest in this match?  Bobby Lashley is underrated as a believable, imposing power house as he has legitimate MMA/Amateur wrestling Chops, while Finn Balor is one of the WWE’s greatest technicians.  I’m excited to see how this match is put together and look forward to the Demon getting his hand raised.

Houtz: There is not a wrestler in the entire universe, that I care less about than Bobby Lashley.  He’s a poor-man’s Ahmad Johnson with less power and a tiny elf as his hype man.  Demon Finn will likely squash Lashley in record time, becoming the NEWWWWW WWE Intercontinental Champion!!!!  The question now remains, will Demon Finn defend his newly reclaimed belt vs regular Finn on Monday?  Now that’s a match I’d like to see.  TOOOO SWEEEETTT!!!

Alfredo’s Pick:  Finn Balor

Ashley’s Pick:  Finn Balor

Houtz’s Pick: Finn Balor


HHH vs Bautista (No Holds Barred)

Alfredo: Bautista must be promoting a movie or something.  For two historically great performers, the runnup to their “No holds Barred” matchup hasn’t been all that great.  So let’s see if we can follow.  Bautista shows up out of the Blue (do you get the reference?), Assaults Hall of Famer Ric Flair, and we haven’t seen Flair since.  Is he ok?  HHH takes offense, and shows up on TV in motorcycle jackets (he obviously means BIZZNEZZ) cuts a few clunky promos.  Bautista then calls “Evolution” a sham and a HHH Ponzi scheme.  HHH then confirms that he’s correct.  HHH makes a stipulation that if he loses, he is done wrestling.  Bautista then comes on National TV again to cut a 3 word promo:  “Kiss my Ass.”  BAH GAWD.  I’m exhausted.  This is going to be a great match.  HHH is an all-time great, and Bautista always rises to the occasion.

Houtz: We all know by now what Bautista wants, what he really, really wants.  And that is the chance to defeat Triple H once and for all at WrestleMania.  If Bautista wins, Triple H will be forced to retire from the ring.  Which means he will no longer be able to use his Father in Law’s credit card to get dressed up and have the best entrance at Mania year after year.  This match will end with some outside interference from the Ghost of Christmas Past, I mean Ric Flair.

Alfredo’s Pick: Triple H

Ashley’s Pick:  Bautista

Houtz’s Pick: Triple H


A.J Styles vs Randy Orton

Alfredo: What?  AJ Styles might be the best wrestler in the world, possibly of all-time.  Randy Orton, is a once headliner, now fading mid carder that nobody cares about. I said this, you said that, I did this, you did that.  Point at the Wrestlemania sign.  We get this.  AJ Styles is worth it.  This match is the late in the show Bathroom break.

Houtz: I’m proud of the WWE for not putting this match on the kickoff show because honestly, that’s exactly where it belongs.  Both wrestlers are two of the best to ever lace up the boots.  But if it wasn’t for a nice build up over the last 10 days, NO ONE would care about this match.

Go grab a beer, let the dogs out, fold some laundry, anything is probably better than sitting through this 6 minute snoozefest.

Alfredo’s Pick:  AJ Styles

Ashley’s Pick:  AJ Styles

Houtz’s Pick: A.J Styles


Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

Alfredo: Roman Reigns relinquished the WWE Universal title last October as he announced that he needed to focus on battling his ongoing bout with Leukemia.  Four Months later, Roman announced that he is/was in remission and fans rejoiced at the news.  Since then, we had a “Shield” reunion, but his best in ring moments have been his latest ongoing feud with the Scottish Psychopath, Drew McIntyre.  These are two guys that are mirror images of each other in many ways, and this match should vault the winner “back” into main event status.  Drew’s dire warning to Reigns about “thinking about what is best for his family” was a nice and ominous touch.

Houtz: Drew McIntyre is the next big thing, and I don’t think anyone can argue that.  But after Roman Reigns had to relinquish his Universal Championship to treat his Leukemia, there is no way Vince McMahon allows his favorite WWE superstar to lose at the year’s biggest PPV.  Or maybe he does.  But after a missed Claymore kick, Roman hits him with the Spear for the 1,2, 3.


Alfredo’s Pick:  Drew McIntyre

Ashley’s Pick:  Roman Reigns

Houtz’s Pick: Roman Reigns


WWE Championship

Daniel Bryan © vs Kofi Kingston

Alfredo: The Ultimate Underdog meats the Ultimate Underdog.  So how did we get here?  That’s complicated.  Somehow, after 11 years, fans realized that “hey, this Kofi guy is good.”  This took place after former fan favorite Daniel Bryan, became a preachy, overbearing hippy, with a tinge of eco-terrorist thrown in while changing the WWE Championship belt from Leather, and Gold…to…Hemp.  Yes.  Hemp.  Anybody that reads this and is not a fan, is a fan now.  Either that, or I am in a drug induced creative haze.  This is one that WWE creative got right.

Houtz: Daniel Bryan has been phenomenal since his heel turn a few months ago and is more than deserving of retaining the Championship at WrestleMania.  But with Kofi Kingston, arguably the greatest underdog in sports entertainment history, FINALLY gets his chance to become WWE Champion.  The two wrestlers put on an absolutely clinic at Elimination Chamber, which is probably why EVERYONE wants to see this match.  Yes, Bryan could win with outside interference and the rivalry could continue another month or so.  But this is WrestleMania and Kofi Kingston is about to have his moment.  A moment he’s been waiting for his entire life.  “YOU DESERVE IT!”

Alfredo’s Pick:  Kofi Kingston

Ashley’s Pick:  Kofi Kingston

Houtz’s Pick: Kofi Kingston


WWE Universal Title

Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar ©

Alfredo: I’m kind of sick of all the Whiny, repetitive “You’re a part-timer” promos directed at the Beast incarnate, BRRRRAAAWCK LEZZZZNARRRR.  Even, top promo Seth Rollins, fell victim to some producer running from the back to make sure he got in that “Hey..make sure that people know that Lesnar makes a lot of money for being here for very little time.”  I hate that.  It’s dumb writing and even dumber story telling.  The Story here is that Brock Lesnar eats people.  After he beats them into a puddle of blood and bones.  Seth Rollins is the best in breed of conniving, crafty, and smart ring masters working today.  They are going to clash, and there can only be one Universal Champion.  My NAME IS ALFREDO ARTEAGA, and I’M THE ADVOCATE …ok..enough ranting.

This is top notch.  Worth the wait, and price of a WWE Network Subscription.  Does Seth Rollins complete his quest to gain the only Championship that has eluded him?  Or does Brock Lesnar murder him.  Fun!

Houtz: Truth is, I am a Seth Rollins stan.  Much like I spent my days on the internet defending Ryan Tannehill blindly for 4, maybe 5 years, Rollins has been my favorite wrestler since his triple threat match with Brock Lesnar and John Cena at the 2015 Royal Rumble.  Lesnar is going to dismantle Rollins.  He’s going to get tossed around the ring like a sack of Idaho potatoes.  Lesnar will probably F-5 Rollins three or four times, maybe even break a table or two.  But in the end, Seth Rollins will do something crazy and find a way to prevail.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Seth Rollins

Ashley’s Pick:  Seth Rollins

Houtz’s Pick: Seth Rollins


Triple Threat Winner takes all Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey © vs Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair ©

Alfredo: The First All-Women’s Main Event in WrestleMania History.  Well deserved.  This match has three of the best workers in the world, and includes, ONE G.O.A.T (Charlotte Flair),ONE World Famous ICON (Ronda Rousey) and ONE…THE MAN (Becky Lynch).  To say that Becky Lynch has had one of the hottest runs in Wrestling history is an understatement.  Her “THE MAN” gimmick rivals some of the best anti-hero characters to ever grace a WWE ring.  Her run to the main event of Mania’ is very much like the ascension of Stone Cold Steve Austin many moons ago.

Oh, did I mention, that we get Charlotte and Ronda too?  Charlotte ads the historical heft of being the G.O.A.T, even after being in the game for only 6 years.  Nobody has ever been better than her, at pretty much anything in a wrestling ring.  Her overall work puts her in the conversation with the greatest’ of all-time regardless of gender.

You could not have the first all-women’s main event in Mania’ History and not have Flair in it.  This brings us to Ronda Rousey.  There is some talk out there that her promos are weak and hurt her performance, but I disagree.  She gets mad, curses on national TV, and then screams into her opponents face’ that she can cripple them if she chose too.  What’s wrong with that?  Her ring work is as good as it gets, and this mix of talent is going to make for one memorable Wrestlemania.

Houtz: When I first started watching wrestling as a kid, the Women’s division was nothing more than eye appeal.  Sure, some of the wrestlers were capable and pulled their own weight.  But a majority of the Attitude Era was spent degrading women.  NOT.  ANY. MORE.

Today, Women’s wrestling is at an all-time high.  They can do everything the men can do and more.  Want proof?  Watch tonight’s WrestleMania. There’s a very good chance that the main event could be the best match of the entire weekend.  But then again, Gargano vs Adam Cole (BAY BAY) was one of the better NxT Championship matches in recent memory.  Nevertheless, anytime you get three of the best women wrestlers in the industry, to fight in the main event at WrestleMania, something special is bound to happen.

There will be carnage.  There will be blood.  And there will be only be one winner.

Alfredo’s Pick:  Becky Lynch

Ashley’s Pick:  Becky Lynch

Houtz’s Pick: Becky Lynch


Alfredo Arteaga (@UptownReport) is one of the three-headed monster on Three Yards Per Carry. He will remind you that he called Kallen Ballage to the Dolphins last year. 

Josh Houtz (@Houtz) cooks in his spare time, when he’s not working on 65 things for Five Reasons Sports Network and Dolphin Maven.


Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Magical Mystery (Dolphins) Tour

The Miami Dolphins have suffered through 19 starting quarterbacks since Dan Marino retired back in 2000.


Jay Fiedler

Damon Huard

Ray Lucas

Brian Griese

A.J Feeley

Sage Rosenfels

Gus Frerotte

Daunte Culpepper

Joey Harrington

Cleo Lemon

Trent Green

John Beck

Chad Pennington

Chad Henne

Tyler Thigpen

Matt Moore

Ryan Tannehill

Jay Cutler

Brock Osweiler


And during that time only Jay Fiedler, Chad Pennington, and Matt Moore (sort of) have taken the Dolphins to the playoffs.

Sure, Ryan Tannehill may have given his blood, sweat, and tears to the team but it wasn’t enough to rise above the fiery depths of 7-9 hell.

So the Dolphins are rebuilding, and finally doing things the right way. But what is their plan at quarterback?

It’s safe to assume Jake Rudock and Luke Falk are probably not the answer.

And yes we know Miami had interest in Tyrod Taylor, before he signed with the Chargers to become Philip Rivers backup.

Heck, even Benedict Teddy Bridgewater decided to pass up an opportunity to start with his hometown team, and circled back to Sean Payton and the Saints.

If the Dolphins had hoped to find a solid veteran quarterback, Chris Grier would need to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

A furry rabbit.

Enter. Ryan Fitzpatrick.


Age: 36

Height: 6’2

Weight: 223 LBs.

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona

College: Harvard


Fitzpatrick has pin-balled from team to team during his tenure in the NFL.

The 15-year veteran has been on a total of eight teams–the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Buccaneers, and Dolphins. Miami is his third team in the AFC East.

Throughout his NFL career, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 29,357 yards, 190 touchdowns, and 148 interceptions.

He has his highs and lows but one thing is for certain, there’s never a dull moment with #FitzMagic.

Here is my film breakdown on one of the NFL’s most unique quarterbacks, and what Dolphin fans can expect from the Amish Rifle.

The Good

No one can argue that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a gunslinger.  And at times, he looks like one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks.

Here is a prime example of what Fitzpatrick can do when everything around him goes right.  The ball is thrown perfectly to his receiver for the touchdown.

And another look…

First, notice the little hand signal that Fitzpatrick gives to his receiver.  This is the circle game and I believe it originated on the hit TV show Malcolm in the Middle.

Secondly, check out the Amish rifle at work.

If Fitzpatrick was wearing #1 and had a visor, I would probably, almost believe that was Cam Newton.

One of his better throws is the back shoulder. Here he puts the ball where only his receiver can make the catch.

Now close your eyes and envision Mike Gesicki in man-to-man coverage vs a significantly smaller defender.

What if, wait for it, DeVante Parker transforms into a suitable number one?

First play of the game vs the defending Super Bowl Champions and Fitzpatrick connects on a perfectly thrown deep ball to DeSean Jackson.

No slight towards Jackson, but Miami has three receivers with eerily similar big-play potential.

I can’t really explain why this video looks like an old John Wayne movie but it does.

O.J Howard runs a post and Fitzpatrick waits patiently as he finds the soft spot in the coverage.  The accurate throw creates yards after the catch. Guys like Jakeem Grant, Albert Wilson, Kenny Stills, and Mike Gesicki should thrive with similar concepts.

If you were hoping the Dolphins were going to tank, this is probably the part of the article where you start to get concerned.

Fitzpatrick is a pretty good quarterback and will throw for 400 yards three or four times a season.  He can make all the throws.

Pocket presence isn’t an issue with Fitzpatrick like it may have been with previous quarterbacks.

Here, he feels the pocket collapse from his right side.  As a result, he slides to the left, squares his shoulders and fires a dime to the receiver in the end zone.  Touchdown.


The myth that Ryan Tannehill couldn’t throw the deep ball surrounded this team for the last 7 seasons.

Certainly, this will not be in question with Fitzpatrick under center.

Throws like this are usually made by the NFL’s #elite.  Fitzpatrick knows where he’s going before the ball is snapped and throws a strike between several defenders.

and again…

Look at Fitzpatrick catch the ball effortlessly with one hand, like Jarvis Landry once did in South Beach 🙁   Pinpoint throw that is placed between the Steelers defenders.

I guess this is why he got the nickname “FitzMagic”. 

Fitzpatrick’s ability to throw the deep ball with exceptional accuracy, should be lethal with the offensive weapons that surround him.

Can DeVante Parker be the Dolphins Mike Evans?  That’s the real question.

The Bad

This is a well timed blitz by Pittsburgh’s defensive back, which forces Fitzpatrick to rush the throw.

His pass is deflected into the air and falls helplessly into the defender’s waiting arms.  Perfect representation of the bad FitzMagic.

I like the way Fitzpatrick maneuvers around in in the pocket.  Nonetheless, the throw is wildly off target.

If this is the Ryan Fitzpatrick the Dolphins get in 2019, maybe they do have a chance at Tua in 2020.

The Ugly

Almost everything you saw from “the good” was really damn good.  Which is why the bad and ugly are both inexcusable.

Here, Fitzpatrick throws to the wide receiver that is shadowed by the defensive back.  Yes, that is Michael Thomas. And no, the ball should not have been thrown.

This play never stood a chance.

It’s the second quarter and Ryan Fitzpatrick is throwing up prayers into quadruple coverage.

As you can expect, Jameis Winston took over shortly after and would remain the starter for the last six games of the regular season.

When Fitzpatrick is good, he’s good.  But when he’s bad, things can get very ugly.


If the Dolphins signed Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the team towards the #1 overall pick in 2020, they may have made a terrible, terrible mistake.  At worst, #FitzMagic will win you four games and ruin any hope Miami once had at Tua Tagovailoa.  He is going to do whatever he can to help this team win football games.  Sometimes it will be good, and other times it will be bad. Really bad.

But no matter what happens, Fitzpatrick will be a guy his teammates can count on.  He will be a welcomed addition to a quarterback room, that consists of two players that have combined for only five attempts in the NFL.  And no matter how you might feel about the team’s chances this upcoming season, Ryan Fitzpatrick will make things interesting-at the very least.

No one knows how the season will play out.  But with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm, there is no denying 2019 should be a magical season.


Josh Houtz (@Houtz) cooks in his spare time, when he’s not working on 65 things for Five Reasons Sports Network and Dolphin Maven.

Ballscast Roundtable: If you could change one rule in any sport…

There are a lot of truly great discussions that go down in the Five Reasons group chat that never see the light of day, which seems unfair. I mean, sure, you may get the pleasure of reading the statistical breakdowns and spider charts that make our group of misfit sports dorks special, but you miss out on some of our more bizarre conversations. The ones that typically happen after dark. The ones that have always just sort of floated away into the night, replaced at sunrise by the morning grind. Well, it’s time to correct that. Twice a month, for your enjoyment, hosts from the network’s various podcasts will gather here at the Ballscast Roundtable to discuss an utterly ridiculous question carefully curated by Adam Smoot. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments or on Twitter or with the complete strangers in your UberPool.

We’ll kick off the inaugural edition of the Ballscast Roundtable with a topic that’s fairly tame:

You possess the Infinity Gauntlet of sports. It’s modeled after Brian Baldinger’s hand. It gives you the power to implement one rule in any sport. What’s it gonna be?


Adam Smoot (Ballscast)

Here’s a way to add a bit of gamesmanship to the NFL Draft and eliminate even the very thought of tanking all at the same time.

At any point during the season, an NFL team may cash in all of their picks in the next draft to immediately select a player out of college. So, for instance, if the Dolphins, at 5-8, realized they wanted Kyler Murray, but had already won too many games to realistically be in position to draft him, they could choose to forfeit all of their picks to select him right then and there, regardless of their draft position.

This cannot be done in back-to-back seasons and can only be done twice in a 10-year period. There is no limit to the number of teams that can do this in a particular year, but multiple cash-ins will be ordered on a first come, first served basis, regardless of draft position.


Alfredo Arteaga (3YPC)

Any call so egregious that a coach becomes furious—pass interference or holding in the NFL, a charging call in the NBA—can be challenged with a Fight Challenge. In the NFL, you are allowed 3 per year, including the playoffs. In the NBA, you are allowed 6 per year, including the playoffs.

How it works: The head coach throws a black flag with a skull and crossbones onto the field or court to issue the challenge. The head referee has the option to either immediately change the call or stand up for the call by accepting the Fight Challenge. At which point, a fight referee comes out with a set of MMA gloves and a 6′ x 6′ mat. The head coach and the referee in the best shape fight for 60 seconds. In the event that there is no knockout or submission, the fight referee then deems a winner and awards the challenge.

On the flip side, if the head referee chooses to reverse his call immediately…the opposing coach can then issue a challenge, and he would then fight on behalf of the referees to uphold the original call.

For every challenge a head coach wins, they get a point, and for every one they lose, they get -1 point. These rankings are then used as the 4th tiebreaker for playoff seeding.


Billy O’Rourke (Smark Your Territory)

Since the NCAA is a fucking joke anyway, let’s just go the full monty and allow for each school to bring back one alum each game to really spice up the strategy. Every team. Every sport. Obviously football will be the biggest benefactor (as it always is), but imagine the implications to, like, golf, when Stanford needs a top-2 finish to win some tournament and HOLY SHIT HERE COMES TIGER WOODS. I dare you to keep eyeballs off that event. Swimming? Florida needs a gold here to win the SEC and RYAN FUCKING LOCHTE is here. You’d watch SportsCenter every night. Imagine those bullshit week one college matchups? Yeah, Central Michigan is outgunned versus, I dunno, Auburn, but does Auburn have a CB who can stop Antonio Brown? Did Auburn waste their alum spot on Bo Jackson bc, LOL, let’s give the old man some carries? Auburn still wins, but Brown goes for 12, 300 and 4. Oh, also, pay the players.


Jeremy Taché (Swings and Mishes)

If a college or professional sporting event is tied at the end of regulation, each team must select one player to compete in an “America’s Got Talent” style competition. Imagine Shaq doing stand-up comedy, Damian Lillard rapping, Baker Mayfield dancing, or Hunter Pence juggling bowling pins that are on fire (okay, I have no proof he can do this, but I imagine this is what Hunter Pence’s talent would be) with the fate of their team’s season on the line.

At the end of the competition, it would come down to a 5 minute window where you can tweet a hashtag at the league (theoretically #ShaqOvertime or #DameOvertime, etc.) and the person with the most tweets at the end wins the game for their team. The tweets would have to come from fans at home watching the game as to make it a more legitimate competition and not just the home fans voting for their home team.

This new overtime rule promotes a diversity of talent across all sports, involves a much needed social media presence into the game, unifies all sports, and allows fans to feel like they can legitimately influence the results of a contest.


Chris Wittyngham (Five Reasons/Pitch Invasion)

Ban all kicking in football. The game starts first and ten from the 25. If you can’t get 10 yards in 4 downs, then you give the other team the ball inside your own 35. Basically opens the door for every kind of offensive innovation because you have no choice but to move the ball 75 yards. It’s like bowling without the bumpers. And, from an entertainment standpoint, you’ve eliminated all of the boring elements of the game. Your team can’t go three and out up 7 with 3 minutes to play and punt the ball. There is no settling for field goals. Your team can’t go 5 straight possessions punting. The demand is to continually and repeatedly be good at offense. And that’s why we watch the game.

Faux Outrage: Confessions of a “Social Media” Justice Warrior

What are we mad about today?

Seriously, what is it? Because we are always mad. Furious even. Every day someone does something so outrageously egregious that we have to run to our computers or smartphones and express our complete and utter displeasure.

So we post . . . we tweet . . . we use memes and gifs. We spew bile and vitriol and we accomplish . . . nothing.

I’m not innocent. I’m one of the worst. I’m sick. One look at my Twitter timeline and you will find a myriad of online skirmishes that I’m currently involved in. Whether I’m wishing death upon anyone who advocates for the Miami HEAT tanking for a better draft slot or I’m picking a fight with a Donald Trump supporter about the latest racist policy being bandied about by the Orangutan-in-Chief, I am constantly waging some kind of social media crusade for the betterment of . . . well I’m not sure.

I am the modern Social Justice Warrior. I am super woke. I am a champion of the downtrodden and the marginalized. I don’t actually DO anything . . . no, but I do express my undying displeasure with all of those who disagree with me. I don’t attend rallies, I don’t protest, I don’t donate to charity or political campaigns. I did vote in the 2018 midterms though. I even voted early. I almost drove away when I saw the line . . . but I stayed and I endured. I’m like Rosa Parks in that respect, except I’m not. I’ve never sacrificed a single creature comfort for anything I actually believe in.

Sometimes I will boycott an artist or business that I feel has crossed the line of my personal morality clause:

  • I will not pay for a Floyd Mayweather fight. (But I will watch at a bar or at someone else’s house who paid for it. I will not chip in, but I will bring food or beverages. I’m woke . . . I’m not rude.)
  • I will not download R. Kelly’s music. (I haven’t downloaded music since the days of Napster. I actually have no idea how to download music. I still use Pandora because I’m confused by Spotify.)
  • I will not buy Gucci. (HA! I can’t afford that shit.)

I still eat at Chick-Fil-A. Yes their stance on LGBTQ rights is troubling, but that spicy chicken deluxe though . . . I’m all for equal rights, but there’s something about that pepper jack cheese and tender chicken breast that makes me not give a damn about anyone but myself.

I would march for Chick-Fil-A sauce and I would do a sit-in for waffle fries, but I won’t drive 30 minutes to attend a rally for the treatment of immigrants at the southern border.

Illustration by: Cedric Allums (@Ac3_B00gie)

I’m a raging hypocrite. I wanted Bret Kavanaugh’s head on a platter but I’m dismayed by the resignation of Al Franken. I think Trump is an absolute pig but I swoon at the silky smooth tone of a Bill Clinton speech. I stayed up all night on election night 2016 rage-tweeting from a hotel room but didn’t take the time to fill out an absentee ballot for Hillary Clinton.

Outrage and activism has become too convenient. We don’t even have to get off of the toilet to have our voices heard. (Everyone on social media between 5:30 am and 7:30 am is posting during a bowel movement by the way.) You no longer have to pick your spots, you can literally be mad about EVERYTHING and you can be mad ALL THE TIME. It’s great!

But really what it’s done is water-down our movements (not the bowel ones . . . that’s the fast food). Our rage has been diluted and those in power know it and benefit from it. They know our outrage can’t survive the news cycle. We have a president who owes his entire political career to our collective ADD.

Remember Access Hollywood?


How about the mocking of a disabled reporter?


I’m really concerned about the huge wealth gap in this country but there’s a new iPhone in Saudi Arabia while Israel invades Darfur and China sexually harassed the governor of Virginia during a Terry Crews film.

So I’ll continue to tweet and post memes on Instagram and do my podcasts while the 1% robs us blind, destroys the environment and bankrupts our future. Because it isn’t bad enough yet. Life is still a little TOO good.

Which is the most depressing part of all this . . . none of us will put our phones down until it’s too late. Until climate change is completely irreversible and we are back in another economic depression because of rampant deregulation and corporate greed. Until the 5G towers go dark due to rolling blackouts stemming from our insatiable use of non-renewable energy sources.

Until I pull into a deserted Chick-Fil-A drive thru and come to the shocking realization that it isn’t Sunday.


Alphonse Sidney (@Alf954) of Light Skinned Opinions and Miami Heat Beat was elected Heat Twitter president without the help of the Russians. Just Ethan and Chris. (Lead illustration by Brian Shultz, or @Shultzman4ever.)

Dwyane Wade and Our Blind Belief

There is something so powerful about the naive belief in an athlete. Feeling your sports legend will emphatically provide the goosebump moment, that whatever punctuation they deliver will be the one that echoes forever. That it will all end like that Golden State game, chest-pounding in front of 20,000 people screaming. That even though he is 37 years old and well past his prime, Dwyane Wade can do anything.

But we were reminded in last night’s loss to the Boston Celtics, it can’t always end that way. Often it ends in turnovers, missed shots and the hollow piercing sound of a losing buzzer. Entering the evening there were five games left to go, so I think a lot of us felt Wade would summon an excellence that transcends his age, like he so often has. That he might even elevate a group of cast-offs and young players to a rematch with the Sixers and the six seed.

Yet his mortality was ever apparent in the end. Wade, among many perimeter players who struggled, finished 5 of 13 and didn’t even attempt a field goal in the final three minutes. Driving lanes shrunk as help came and Wade could not generate quality looks for himself. In a game where the season and his career was on the line, Wade could not conjure the Superman that Miami so desperately wants to believe in. And we believe in it because he’s done that to us, by doing it so often. 

Reality is the most painful truth. In this ballad of memories, excellence, love and appreciation we are also at times reminded of Wade’s age and limitations. Flash is now Father Prime and the electric fourth quarter scorer has been transformed into the role of savvy old man game. The eurostep to an and-one isn’t there quite like it used to be. What once were sweeping layups and dunks overs bigs have become floaters and pump fakes. Of course we all know this, but being able to see the end makes it all the louder.

This Last Dance might not be extended into the playoffs where Wade has made so much history, one of the greatest postseason scorers of all time, at 22.3 points — ahead of Oscar Robertson and just behind Wilt Chamberlain — on pretty good efficiency too. His ballet has been about proving doubters wrong, about giving us moments and it will feel vapid if it doesn’t end with a playoff berth.

Humanity is a frail thing and despite Wade’s 17 points and his effort driven plays when the game was to be saved, when Miami needed a savior, it never came. 

That was the most gutting feeling of all, realization of the end. That the greatest athlete in the history of South Florida, that my damn hero couldn’t fix this. Some nights he has it and others he won’t but the betrayal of a superstar’s body is never more actualized than at the end.

Wade didn’t even make a shot in the entire fourth quarter (0-1) and that was the worst part of it all, because I still, naively believe he can do anything. I still believe that he can single handedly win games. I still believe he can take over when the chips are down. I still believe in the basketball deity that is Dwyane Wade.

So as that fourth quarter was slipping away and Wade was working the pick and roll only to pass out of any advancement to the rim it had hit me that if he couldn’t do it then no one could. It almost felt like it had to be him or no one else. Fittingly, Wade or bust, like it always has been. While even in this season Wade has been a master at the end of games.

In the Heat’s incredible March, the Heat had a net rating of +12 in fourth quarters when Wade was on the floor and had a -11 net rating when he was off it. This is why I still believe. I am still seeing it night after night. And this is a testament to his greatest, that after so many miles, playoff battles  knee procedures he can still be this kind of excellent. That he can still inspire this unwavering faith in miracle making. 

With four games left the Heat are gonna continue to turn to Wade for heroics and legend building. For, as he calls them, moments. With the sixth hardest schedule in the NBA to close out the season there is a lot that needs to break the Heat’s way. The one thing I am naively certain of however is Wade won’t have another 0-for-1 quarter. Dwyane Wade will not go quietly. 

It may all not be the Golden State buzzer beater but it’s tough to stop believing in Dwyane Wade, miracle maker.  He erased one of the most impossible finals deficits ever single handedly, he overcame his knees not working in Indiana to score 99 points across three games and finish off the Pacers after falling down 2-1. He hit a game winner over the next young star on the night where the Stoneman Douglas victims were honored.

His triumphs are storybook and for the Miami Heat to extend his one last dance, they will need everything he still has, because they’re not ready to reach the levels he has. And the naive sports fan in me will keep wishing and believing them. Hoping it can end with chest thumping and 20,000 screaming the name of the best to ever do it in this city.


Giancarlo Navas (@GNavas103) is the host of Miami Heat Beat, and very proud of his Shaquille O’Neal takes.