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Pippen on LeBron/Jordan; James Coley on UM's offense; New incentive for Fins; Marlins

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Scottie Pippen was sitting inside an AmericanAirlines Arena suite last week when he mentioned something he said 21 months ago that irked some Michael Jordan fans.

“I said LeBron James is probably going to be the best player to ever play the game at the end of his career, and everybody knocked me for it,” said Pippen, who teamed with Jordan to win six championships with the Bulls.

So now that James has won another MVP and his first championship, does Pippen feel vindicated?

“I don’t feel vindicated, but the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “They speak for themselves. No one can compare to [James]. He’s powerful, he’s strong, he’s big. He’s the most complete player the game has ever seen.”

Pippen, at the arena promoting Prime Joint Support Formula, was asked if James is now as good as Jordan ever was. “Physically,” Pippen said. “Mentally, Michael was more mature, not to take anything away from LeBron. Michael had four years of college under Dean Smith.

So a lot of what LeBron had to experience in the league, Michael experienced before he got there.”

But Pippen doesn’t like the James/Jordan comparison because “LeBron doesn’t play the same way. If you want to compare somebody to Michael, I would say Kobe Bryant. He’s got more that mentality.

“LeBron is a willing passer, plays more gracefully, bigger, easier. Michael was more flamboyant. There was more of a wow [element] of, ‘How did he do that?’ because people saw him being small doing all this stuff against giants. LeBron is a giant.”

At 28, James this season is shooting better (56.0 percent) than Jordan ever did in a single season (53.9). Jordan still owns the higher career scoring average (30.1 to 27.6), but James boasts superior career numbers in rebounds (7.2 to 6.2), assists (6.9 to 5.3) and three-point shooting. James, incidentally, will pass Jordan’s point total (32,292) in 5 1/2 seasons if he averages 27 a game.

“LeBron can guard the fastest guy on the floor and also has the size and strength to guard the biggest guy,” Pippen marveled. “Shaq would be the only guy he couldn’t guard and he ain’t in the league.”

### When the Big Three convened, some believed they could rival the Bulls’ dynasty. Even Jeff Van Gundy, who works Sunday’s Heat-Lakers game on ABC, predicted in 2010 that Miami would break Chicago’s single-season 72 win record.

So why hasn’t that happened? “I don’t think they’re that good,” Pippen said. “I’m not taking anything away from the Big Three, but I don’t think that team is that good. They’re one out of two.”

Though owner Micky Arison said a year ago that the luxury tax – which becomes more onerous in 2014 – won’t force him to break up the Big Three, it will affect the supporting cast.

Pippen said: “I don’t know that that group stays together” long enough to come close to the Bulls’ six titles. “LeBron may do it, but Dwyane Wade won’t last that long. Chris Bosh may get traded. You can’t compare them with [our Bulls] teams. You may be talking about [something like] the Pistons that won two championships.”

Couple final thoughts from Pippen: Contrary to Erik Spoelstra’s claims, he believes the Heat “is kind of bored. Championship teams normally don’t try to come back and set records. I don’t think there’s any concern.”

And he disagrees with Charles Barkley’s contention that Wade’s skills have diminished. “He’s still at the top of his game,” Pippen said. “Why should he have to kill himself to try to quiet his critics in the regular season? He’s coming off a championship. What does he have to prove?

“The media is going to always kill him, because if you aren’t playing up to LeBron’s level, you [allegedly] aren’t who you say you are or who you used to be. That’s the way I felt playing with Michael.”

CANES CHATTER

Here’s what new UM offensive coordinator James Coley tells us he would like people to say about his UM offense in time: “Here’s a guy that creates explosive plays in the run game and passing game and is always seeking how to stretch the field, whether it’s horizontally or [vertically] and gets your guys in space where they can do damage.”

He will use a pro style offense with multiple formations and spread elements. “You are not handcuffing yourself into a two-back set all the time,” he said, adding he’s willing to use formations, at times, such as five receivers and an empty backfield, and isn’t opposed to occasionally lining up Duke Johnson at receiver to flummox defenses.

Tight end is a UM strength, and Coley said: “[If] you’ve got athletic tight ends” the key is “find the bad linebacker and exploit them.” Of emerging Clive Walford, Coley said: “The more he’s played, the better he’s gotten. I’m looking forward to start feeding him the rock.”

Coley, 39, helped craft the Seminoles’ game plan as offensive coordinator, but coach Jimbo Fisher called the plays. “It was time for me to go out and do my own thing,” said Coley, who called plays in 2006 for a talent-deficient FIU team. “Calling games is my passion. I want to try it on my own.” Besides Fisher, his other offensive mentors include Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan, both colleagues in his three seasons on the Dolphins’ staff.

### UM people believe Florida State and Arkansas were two schools that negative recruited against the Hurricanes, with FSU warning players that UM is going to be on NCAA probation, despite having no firm evidence. FSU was irritated about losing Coley to Miami, but UM believes FSU bad-mouthed UM last year, too.  

CHATTER

### The sense here has been that the Dolphins at least will try to make a big impact move in free agency, especially with Steve Ross telling friends he expects to spend a lot of money. But there is even more incentive now, with the Dolphins taking their stadium financing plan to a vote of Miami-Dade County voters, likely in late March or April.

What better way to excite your fan base than signing a marquee player (Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, etc.)? Of course, some fans excited by the signing of a neon name will still oppose public financing, and the Dolphins face an uphill climb getting voter approval. But there is now even more incentive for the Dolphins to make a big free agent splash.

### Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland predicted last week defensive end Olivier Vernon is “going to get much, much better” – he had 2 ½ sacks in the first six games, just one in the last 10 ---  and Cameron Wake said he will spend time this offseason teaching Vernon more pass-rush moves.

“This is a big offseason for him, and that’s an understatement,” Wake said.

###  Some Dolphins free agents are frustrated Ireland has made unappealing contract offers or none at all. But he often waits until the NFL Combine in late February to get serious. Players can sign with other teams starting March 12.... The Dolphins say they won't raise prices for season tickets or individual game tickets.

### Marlins camp opens Monday, but Logan Morrison hasn’t been cleared to run off knee surgery and said he won’t know for awhile if he will be ready for opening day April 1. “We will go as far as I go,” he said, knowing he must “help” Giancarlo Stanton offensively. Moving from left field to first base “will help my knee.”

### Juan Pierre said he was 15 minutes from signing with Houston before the Marlins called this winter and offered $1.6 million. Returning here “was a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s a special place. I met my wife when I was with the Marlins.” (She worked in the team’s marketing department.)  “Juan Pierre and Tony Gwynn had the best work habits of any players I ever managed,” Jack McKeon said last week.

      

 

Comments

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Dom

Good luck Coley. Offensively we have better weapons than any team and at least on the level of Alabama, USC< FSU....Just need D to step it up.......

Quijote

Thanks for the FIU coverage.

Eddie

jed fisch will be hard to replace. hopefully coley is as good.

taheati

Good stuff re Pippen, Bron, Wade etc. but disagree Heat "aren't that good." When the Heat play lockdown d, they could beat any team from any era. Else, I'd imagine the 90's-era Bulls would find it a bit more difficult to reach the ECF much less Finals if they had to defend under today's no-handcheck (ibid. MJ) no-grab (ibid. MJ) rules.

Cane4Life

Barry,
Great information, as always. UM believes that FSU negatively recruited against them? Well, we have their recruiting coordinator as our new OC, so, I believe they KNOW for a fact the FSU negatively recruited against them. Till this NCAA stuff clears up and we finally get their punishment (we have punished ourselves enough already), more teams will continue to negatively recruit against us.

BTW, congratulations to former UM safety Hurlie Brown, Miami's new running backs coach. Welcome to the ON FIELD coaching staff Hurlie. Keep Duke and the rest of our guys on pace.

Rick Blaque

I would say that Florida State told the truth and the Canes have tried to sugarcoat the truth the last couple of years. Golden himself has said the worst is over with the suspensions last year and the self imposed bowl and scholarship sanctions even though the NCAA has not finished its review. They can't have it both ways.

rboud

I hope Coley works out and I'm sure he has a future, but he's got big shoes to fill. Ask yourself this question UM fans. When is the last time a UM offense executed as well as last year's did. My answer is 2001 and that offense had quite a bit more talent than last year's. It's no coincidence that J. Fisch was the reason. Despite the negative recruiting done by UM opponents, Golden will continue to take the high road and sell UM's strengths, not other teams' weaknesses or problems. It will pay off over time.

mike

Hurlie brown rb coach when did this happen?does he have any exp. as a rb coach like Bennett or soldinger?

Barry Jackson

UM just announced Hurlie Brown. The former Canes player has been on UM's staff past two years. Coached defensive backs at Louisiana Lafayette for four.

TK SWAN!!

FORGET NEGATIVE RECRUITING UNTIL THEN CANES BEAT FLA/FLA ST WE WILL CONTINUE TO LOSE THE BIG THREE RECRUITING WAR. THIS YEAR IS A "GOLDEN" OPPORTUNITY TO BEAT BOTH. THE GATORS COME TO TOWN AND FSU IS WITHOUT A LOT OF IT'S STARTING TALENT WHILE THE U RETURNS 20 STARTERS. TIME TO BRING THE "SWAG" BACK.

Omaximus

Quiote go to the FIU blog if you want more FIU coverage. Just like Barry doesn't report much on FAU or the Florida panthers or Barry University because very few people are interested in reading about those programs its the same with FIU. They are a young struggling program in an irrelevant non-BCS conference with a tiny but vocal fanbase. Considering that I would say they get more coverage in the herald than is deserved.

Jo jo

Hope Coley can be as Offensive as Fisch was...I agree.Can t recall Hurlie Brown as a Cane but I m hoping he s as good or better as Soldinger was.GO CANES.

UMike

Quijote: Nobody cares about FIU, including half of the students on their disgusting, jungle of a campus...most of the students at FIU are UM fans, but for maybe some frat drunks!

You're a big whiner...period!

FIU...on the rise, correct?

ASS CLOWN

UMike

Quijote: You spew your garbage about how "FIU is on the rise"...you call Miami "scUM"...you say things like "Miami is afraid to play FIU"...and, you come on here wanting FIU coverage...why would anyone cover a program that is just slightly above high schools that play football in Miami-Dade County?

FI-who was supposed to win the Sun Belt this year (as prestigious as that IS NOT), and they sucked.

You have a fan base of maybe 5,000 LOCALS, mostly drunken frat brats....UM has a nation-wide fan base (see UM vs Boston College IN BOSTON THIS PAST YEAR, there were AT LEAST 20,000 UM fans there)...it takes FI-who three games to get that many people to your aluminum stadium....of course, this past year your attendance was up because FI-who gave FREE SEASON TICKETS to anyone who attended last years FIU-RUTGERS GAME, which was supposed to be the big BREAKOUT game for FI-who (funny, I remember when UM was in the Big Least and Rutgers was our DOOR MAT, but for Florida Immigration U., it was the big game of the year).

You're an idiot, as I've told you many times before....and now, you're here whining about how FIU doesn't get any coverage...what kind of coverage do you want, the fact that this upcoming schedule's toughest game is against LOUISVILLE? The rest of the schedule has Marshall, Bethune, MTSU, etc, etc.....so, shut up, will you!!

You're a moron of gigantic magnitude!

9>5>2

FSU siemn holes- what a bunch of pathetic rednks-
I used to "somewhat respect them" now I don't- they have fal;len to the same level as the gators.

Arkansas negative recruiting? Thank you Randy Shannon. Many here defended you (Iwasnt one)- Now your true colors have shown up- you cant coach, you cant recruit so you resort to back stabbing your alma mater. Nice.

Jo jo

Seems Quijote likes to talk smack but sometimes I notice he gets ripped pretty bad.Too funny.

Reality Bites

What up with all the FIU hate cane fan?
And you suspect negative recruiting by FSU and Arkansas?
Why suspect, why not ask FSu's main recruiter who is now the cane OC.
Seems like a bunch of bull to me. Since when is telling the truth about your sorry state of affairs negative. Just because things are negative for you, just because your reality is dismal and your future dim does not equate to negative recruiting. How soft and sensitive can U be?
Get over it and do some winning on the field then you can talk.
Shouldn't be hard to win, Dom says you are better than Alabama.
I smell a delUsional cane fan. But then again, is there any other kind?

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Might seem like an overreaction but Quijote is a relentless troll in the comments section of UM articles.

Not anymore, he and "Reality Bites" are banished to the blogs, no way they're using their own identities to childishly trash talk UM.

Georgeh'

I'm a UM fan first and support FIU. Why would there be any hatred between fans?

I think Ireland is right about Vernon. Was a fan of him at the U and I think he has the physical tools, and athleticism, to be a very good pass rusher in the NFL.

Typical UM Fan

I went to MDCC for two years, work at the Publix deli and am a HUGE UM fan. Why can't we all get along?

frankie

um is no. 3 in poll! weeee!

The U Boy

Actually, mike had 3 yrs under The Dean.

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