Tag Archive for: NBA

Is Juwan Howard the only man willing to coach the Lakers?

It appeared the Miami Heat had escaped a bit of a crisis.

Short on assistant coaches with real playing experience who connect in that way with their current players, the Heat appeared to be keeping Juwan Howard through at least this offseason. About a month ago, our Greg Sylvander wrote this piece about Howard’s importance in the locker room and on the practice court, and why the Heat could not afford to lose him now.

Then, amid the rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers’ interest in Howard, Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue (LeBron James’ former coach) emerged as primary candidates.

Now both have turned down what was once among the prized jobs in sports.

Jason Kidd remains somewhere in the picture.

But here we are…

This makes sense for a lot of reasons, foremost among them James’ respect for Howard — and also Howard’s lack of head coaching experience, which may make it easier for James to get his way. James has played better for coaches with some experience than those without any (David Blatt, Luke Walton).

And it’s not like elite proven candidates are clamoring for the job.

If you want a full list of Lakers coaching candidates, look here.

Or here…


What’s not clear is what the Heat will do if Howard leaves. Dan Craig is still around, as is Chris Quinn, but the reality is that it helps to have a strong black voice on a staff in the NBA, and the Heat don’t have one. Anthony Carter is a relative newbie, and didn’t have Howard’s playing chops.


Miami Heat looked better than they played

The Miami Heat had one of their more mediocre seasons in the past quarter-century.

But, in the eyes of some fans, they’ve never looked better.

By any measure, the Vice jerseys were a huge hit from the start, even though the Heat could never seem to win in them. The personnel department is going through a rare rough stretch, but the marketing department has been on fire for a while now, from the jerseys to the court color change to everything that revolved around Dwyane Wade’s #OneLastDance.

And the numbers prove it:

Twenty-four percent.

There are 30 teams, so the Heat should have been at three percent.

So it’s really a remarkable achievement, and the timing was right to coincide with the Wade celebration.

Now they just need another star to wear them, one in his prime, so they’ll win a bit more often.

Dwyane Wade continues telling the tale of 2010

There will be a 30 for 30 someday — and maybe a book, if I can find all my notes — but in the meantime, the story of the formation of the Big 3 Miami Heat continues to take shape.

There’s long been a question of whether Dwyane Wade or Pat Riley was more responsible for the formation of the Heat’s villainous superteam. Riley got the majority of the credit early, but those more aware of the process knew that — while Riley’s presence as the grand poobah of a successful, structured organization was a plus — it was always more about two things:

— The cap space the Heat created, which was Riley’s vision yes, but which Andy Elisburg actually was most responsible for executing.

— LeBron James and Chris Bosh wanting to play with Wade.

This credit question became a point of contention for Wade — and even more for the people in his circle — during the difficult summers negotiating with Riley in 2015 and 2016. (Just trust us on that.)

Wade and Riley have appeared to largely reconcile, with Riley doing something unusual and actually spending time at an All-Star Weekend (Wade’s last as a player) and then gushing about Wade again in the post-season press conference.

But Wade is still on the interview circuit, and this was interesting.

Miami wasn’t initially even second on he and James’ list when they were deciding where they could play together in 2010.

Click on it to listen to the clip.

Riley deserves a lot of credit for what he’s done with the Heat over the past 24 years. He made basketball matter here, and the Heat’s record of sustained success is second to only the Spurs during his tenure.

But there’s some mythology that gets in the way of the truth.



Sports and Thrones: Arya vs. Dame


There has always been quite a bit of crossover between sports and HBO’s Game of Thrones.

That’s somewhat due to the shared audiences — a lot of men between 18 and 49 — but also because of Bleacher Report’s brilliant Game of Zones, in which Pat Riley used to make appearances as Tywin Lannister, before Tywin died on a toilet.

Sunday, the #BattleForWinterfell brought out all the best comparisons and memes.

Here were a few, mostly NBA-related, because that league runs social media.

Most, naturally, were about Arya Stark.

And the best one…


Is there hope in the East for the Heat?

Well, that went as expected.

The Eastern Conference first round was full of mismatches, especially with Indiana missing Victor Oladipo, and so it should have surprised no one that all four series were slaughters, with the favorites taking 16 of 18 games.

It was also a stark reminder of how far the Miami Heat are from serious contention in the conference. They finished behind the Nets, Pistons and Magic, teams with just a couple of certifiable stars between them. The Heat can talk about injuries (and they were banged up than the Magic in particular, though not the Nets). But the reality is, they’re just not good enough — and with Dwyane Wade retiring, likely about to get worse.

This isn’t us saying it.

It’s you.

After the four top teams in the East easily advanced, we polled it at @5ReasonsSports.

At last count, the Raptors and Celtics were “leading” at about 33 percent each, followed by the 76ers, with the Bucks way behind — because they have Giannis.

But the most popular response was “none of the above.”

It’s hard to envision the Heat passing the Bucks anytime soon. The 76ers? Even if Jimmy Butler leaves, they still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in their early 20s, and probably Tobias Harris. The Celtics may lose Kyrie Irving, but they are still stocked with assets.

The only real wild card is Toronto, considering they could lose Kawhi Leonard, likely to the Clippers.

But — and this is sad to say — if you’re betting Masai Ujiri vs. Pat Riley lately, you go with Ujiri.

The Pat Riley to the Lakers thing won’t die

South Florida sports fans are particularly sensitive about this stuff.

After all, they thought they had a championship coach for the Miami Dolphins when Nick Saban signed on in 2005. He started slow that first season, but won his last six behind Gus Frerotte, signed Daunte Culpepper and seemed poised for greatness until that season soured. Then, toward the end, with rumors swirling, Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde had the guts to ask him flat out if he would be going to the Crimson Tide.

And you recall the answer…

Soon after, Saban was the Alabama coach.

Still is.

With all those championships.

Recently, as the Los Angeles Lakers have continued to melt down — they’re interviewing Ty Lue for head coach, for bleep’s sake — Pat Riley’s name has been linked on social media to them again. Yes, that Pat Riley. The Heat-president-since-1995-Pat Riley.

Riley, of course, made his name with the Lakers, sort of as a player — and Jerry West’s practice dummy — and then as a broadcaster and the slicked back savant of Showtime. He also stumbled into a discussion about returning in 2004, before Jerry Buss ended up sending him Shaquille O’Neal instead. Jerry has passed, but his daughter Jeanie is trying to recreate the past, and so the reunion story won’t go away. Especially now that Magic Johnson has gone, to tweet inanities instead. And especially since it appears that LeBron James and Riley have patched things some, after Riley was red hot about him for the past few years, and James was annoyed by Riley continuing to mention him.

Riley’s been making overtures like this one (see link).

Oh, and there was this…

That’s why I felt the need to get Riley on the record about the Lakers, and his own future.

Here it was, Saturday:

But you knew it wouldn’t end there. Not with Riley in Malibu already for much of the summer. Not with ESPN’s ridiculous obsession over the Lakers, above all teams currently in the playoffs. Not with it possibly serving his interests to make the Heat, um, sweat a little, as the succession plan still needs to take shape.

So Jeannie wants him back?

That’s not a surprise.

But if Riley goes now, he’s at risk of Saban-ing himself.

Yes, there is an infinitely greater record of goodwill here. Saban was 15-17. Riley has won three championships, and made the playoffs 80 percent of the time.

That, though, is why it will hurt some fans more.

Especially after Riley ripped LeBron for taking off.

Marc Stein on Pat Riley: “I won’t doubt him again”

The newly-minted Basketball Hall of Famer, Marc Stein — long of ESPN and now of The New York Times — joined the Five Reasons Sports flagship on Thursday to discuss the NBA playoffs, NBA player movement, the Miami Heat and Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

You can find the full episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/marc-stein-on-nba-playoffs-riley-wade-dirk/id1336060206?i=1000435259473

Here are some highlights:

On Pat Riley…


On Kevin Durant and the New York Knicks….


On the Miami Heat’s trade for Jimmy Butler falling through with the Minnesota Timberwolves….

The Game of Thrones, Miami Sports match game

Screenshot photo from Games of Zones on Bleacher Report.


Eighteen months.

That’s how long it’s been since the last episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, during which time South Florida’s various major athletic teams have won a grand total of one postseason contest — that thanks to Dwyane Wade, who wasn’t even here when that last episode aired.

There’s always been some crossover between sports fans and Thrones fans, except in our network, in which a surprising number of millennials have never seen the show. This is where I would compare Giancarlo Navas of Miami Heat Beat to Reek if I wanted to be mean. But I don’t.

But we did feel it was appropriate to ask the question above.

We already know that Pat Riley is Tywin Lannister — no, we don’t expect Riley to die on a toilet. Bleacher Report made the comparison in a brilliant Game of Zones video, and others have come to the same conclusion:

We threw the rest to you and, as usual, you delivered….

Let’s start with the best one, which a few submitted….


This one was kind of obvious…

Some Big Three takes… (no Red Wedding here)….

Another one we saw a few times…

Dolphins fans jumped in….


So did Marlins fans, those that are left…

A little love for Mr. 305….

Some of you had jokes…

Of course, #JustiseBetter was associated with a couple of series favorites…


But we had to slip this in before the wire…


Bam Adebayo wants the burden

There will be no playoffs this season for the Miami Heat, so Clean Out Day came early. Some players and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra are meeting with the media and, as of this writing, big men Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo have already done so.

Adebayo, in particular, is interesting because he had a bit of a breakout this season, especially in the 28 games he started, while being the only player on the team to play in all 82. He developed his ballhandling and his defensive versatility, and has shown glimpses of a jumper if he’ll just be more aggressive.

But here’s what is most promising about Adebayo, who is mature for his age (22 in July):

He facilitates.

This is something, of course, that the other Heat center is loathe to do.

And Adebayo wants to do more of it.

Adebayo averaged 2.2 in just 23.3 minutes this season.

That’s solid for a center, and as he develops more chemistry with his teammates, that should improve. As Erik Spoelstra noted, Adebayo had at least five assists in 14 games.

He also says he can play with the guy he calls “H.” They played only 14 minutes together this season, with Spoelstra preferring to pair either with Olynyk or James Johnson.

One of our guys isn’t thrilled with that idea…

But this is the way Adebayo speaks, and this is what is so encouraging. Miami’s Kids are all quality people, but the question is whether they are players to build around, or just build with.

Jeffrey Loria: Your worst person in Miami sports history

We probably didn’t need to do this.

It was kind of a foregone conclusion, when we selected 52 of the least popular sports figures in South Florida history — split into Sports Figures and Athletes brackets — that the frugal, former owner of the Miami Marlins would eventually tear down the nets like he tore down baseball in this market.

Still, we went through it anyway, and Jeffrey Loria was the big winner… or loser.

(We won’t show his face because, well, why?)

He was never really challenged, not against another former Marlins owner (John Henry), not against former Dolphins GM Mike Tannenbaum, not against the destroyer of the University of Miami football program Nevin Shapiro, not in the Futile Four against former Dolphins coach Nick Saban — who upset Loria’s son-in-law David Samson in the Awful Eight — and certainly not in the Final against the person you oddly deemed the worst athlete (former Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin).

This was a rout.

And why not?

Loria did win a World Series as owner, but he also made decision after decision to destroy the Marlins franchise. (Oh, and he called me a “piece of crap columnist” once, so I’ll acknowledge some bias.

He’ll probably take this condemnation as a compliment.

What was strange was the other side of the bracket, where four former Dolphins (Martin, Dion Jordan, Mike Wallace, Jay Cutler) were the last four left, not exactly the quartet we expected. In fact, Dolphins kept beating Heat, Marlins, Panthers and Hurricanes players in terms of how much you disliked them.

But no one beats Loria, not at this game.