King Kaufman's Sports Daily

A warm farewell to the Miami Heat passes the time during the Nets-Pistons ice age. Plus: It's hot, it's sexy, it hurts! And: Randy Johnson's perfect game.

By Salon Staff

Published May 19, 2004 7:00PM (EDT)

Now that the Miami Heat have been eliminated, let's talk about them a little bit, because we're still only about midway through the waiting period between Games 6 and 7 of the Pistons-Nets series. I have had relationships -- good ones, nice ones, with last names learned and everything -- that did not last as long as the wait for Game 7 of the Pistons-Nets series.

Game 7 is Thursday. Game 6 was in the Mesozoic Era. The Pistons were still in Fort Wayne.

I don't think too many people not actually employed by the Heat thought they'd beat the Indiana Pacers, and they didn't, losing the decisive Game 6 at home Tuesday night 73-70. But their two wins in the series stand as the biggest surprise of this playoff year after the Lakers' sudden and complete turnaround against the Spurs. And that's counting the fact that the two wins came at home, where the Heat had won 16 straight coming into the series. The Heat were just outmanned.

But what a nice run for them, considering that 0-7 start, and the way Pat Riley jumped ship at the start of the season. You had to love the great Riley throwing up his hands at this bunch and then rookie coach Stan Van Gundy coming in and leading them to the second round of the playoffs.

By the way, looking at the beefy, unkempt Van Gundy and his prim little brother Jeff, two and a half years younger but successful first in New York and now coaching the Rockets, don't you figure that Stan used to just beat the snot out of Jeff all the time when they were kids?

Anyway, those of us who fell in love with Dwyane Wade last year when he was leading Marquette to the Final Four enjoyed watching him arrive on the NBA main stage by averaging 18 points, four rebounds and 5.6 assists in the playoffs and filling up a highlight reel with spectacular drives and game-winning shots.

Miami is a solid big man and a decent point guard away from being a serious contender. The latter would allow Wade to move to shooting guard, where he'd be even more effective. Being a center and point guard away from serious contention is a little like being a million dollars away from being a millionaire, especially when you're drafting 19th and don't have tons of cap space.

It's always nice to have the Heat around in the playoffs, because their fans tend to be good-looking, and it's good to be able to see some celebrities in the stands without having to watch another Lakers game.

It's fasciism, I tell ya [PERMALINK]

What is the deal with plantar fasciitis? It's the hot injury this season. If pink is the new black, plantar fasciitis is the new turf toe.

Rasheed Wallace of the Pistons has it. Doug Christie of the Kings has it. Official Joey Crawford has it. You have it. I think I went 35 years as a basketball fan without hearing the words plantar fasciitis, and now I hear it every five minutes.

I don't know if it's been underdiagnosed or underreported over the years, but it's all the rage now. It's an inflammation of some connective tissue on the bottom of the foot, and it hurts like the dickens. Playing basketball on it is a hell of a thing, even accounting for modern advances in pain medication. Walking down a carpeted hallway with it is a hell of a thing.

To give you an idea of how tough it is to deal with, even the break between Games 6 and 7 of the Pistons-Nets series won't be enough time for Wallace to recover.

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Randy Johnson's perfect, and I'm feeling OK myself [PERMALINK]

Randy Johnson's perfect game against the Braves Tuesday night was the 15th in modern baseball history, which means since 1900. To give you an idea how rare that is, in the same period, the presidency of the United States has changed hands 17 times.

Here's another measure: 15 happens to be the precise number of times I've correctly predicted a division champion, in all four major sports combined, since 1980. We're talking a rare feat here.

Johnson -- who has the worst nickname in sports, "The Big Unit" -- is the third pitcher born in 1963 to throw a perfect game. The other two are David Wells and David Cone. No other year has ever produced three perfect-game pitchers, and since I was also born in 1963, I'm enjoying some reflected glory here. I'm surprised there hasn't been more coverage of this, but I'm available for interviews.

Only two other years have produced two perfect-game pitchers. Len Barker and Dennis Martinez were born 54 days apart in 1955 -- the closest of any pair of men who have thrown perfect games -- and Tom Browning and Mike Witt were both born in 1960.

One more factoid: Though Johnson, 40, became the oldest man ever to throw a perfect game, he is also the second youngest man on the planet to have thrown one. Today's bar-bet fodder is that the only man born after Johnson to own a perfecto is Kenny Rogers, who was 29 when he threw his 10 years ago.

I love my Baseball Encyclopedia, and I love the Pistons and Nets for giving me enough time to look all this stuff up while I wait for Game 7 of their series.

Previous column: Good week for gender issues

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