The off-season is finally coming to an end as teams begin to report to training camp over the next couple of weeks. But until then to tide you all over I thought I’d fool around and go off topic a little bit. Recently, with the acquisitions of Chris Bosh and Lebron James to join Dwyane Wade, there has been a lot of debate over which team are now the favorite sons of Miami.
The prevailing thought seems to be that if the Heat are not now the dominant South Florida team, they soon will be. That’s not what this article is about, that’s silly. The Heat may well be the talk of the town for the next few years, but all three players can opt out of their contracts in four years and it’s doubtful they all retire Heat. The Dolphins have been the star of the town for over 40 years. So yes, for four, maybe six years the Heat may hold the top spot on South Beach, but it’s a fad. More to the point though, I figured with the star power now in Miami we could do one hell of a sports power ranking. It’s fun, who doesn’t love a good list and at the very least it will give us something to talk about. Quickly, the list was determined based on the level of fame, clout and influence of the individuals in the South Florida sports world.
1.) Dwyane Wade- There’s no doubt Dwyane Wade is currently South Beach’s favorite son. Already a national celebrity appearing in a variety of ads like T-Mobile commercials with Charles Barkley and having played a major role on the 2008 Redeem Team, Wade just seemingly did the impossible. He helped convince Lebron James to bail on Ohio and come to HIS team in South Florida. More importantly to south Florida sports fans though, he stayed. Miami is a town with a legacy of loyalty. Dan Marino and Bob Griese were lifelong Dolphins, Shula and Riley never left. Dwyane Wade chose to stay with the Heat and then hit the road to recruit and run interference. He probably already had the top spot, but now there’s no doubt. If he finishes his career with the Heat he will have a place in Miami’s Mount Rushmore.
2.) Lebron James- To the rest of the country it may be 1 and 1a, but not in Miami. The King is in Wade County, he’s no longer the alpha dog in town. That may be the most interesting development from this entire NBA Free Agency thing, Lebron would have been the top dog in literally any other city or situation, except for if he came to Miami where Dwyane Wade had already won a title and where Wade would be the insupplantable favorite son. Still, James has star power both nationally and internationally. He single-handedly raises the international profile of the Miami Heat. He gets the Heat into forefront of the national consciousness. Miami will now be in plenty of news-leads and and on plenty of front pages because of James. Casual fans hopping on the Heat bandwagon just went through the roof. But make no mistake about it, in Miami, Dwyane Wade is simply the top dog.
3.) Dan Marino- Hey nobody said they still had to be playing. No one in Miami is more recognizable or universally revered than Dan Marino. The man was prolific, the best pure passer in history and a hall of famer. His sports celebrity is undeniable, he’s one of the top five quarterbacks of all time, the most visible position in the most popular American sport, that would get him on the list by itself. But Marino remains nationally relevant because of his work on CBS’ NFL pre-game show as well as his commercial work. Ok, so even I die a little bit every time I see my childhood hero on a Nutrisystem commercial, but it’s undeniable that almost no one has done more for or is more beloved by Miami than Dan Marino.
4.) Brandon Marshall- I think Marshall probably drops a bit on this list (if I ever do another one) after the initial splash of his landing in Miami wears off. The ideal Brandon Marshall is a quiet one, a low profile one. One whose celebrity dips off a bit for a couple years before building back up a few years after that because he’s been a constant producer on the field and big community presence off of it. That’s ideal. But as it stands today, Marshall is probably the highest profile current Dolphin for some of the wrong reasons. Regardless, it’s hard to deny Marshall has a charisma about him, an innate rock-star presence. His production on the field is elite, but Marshall’s personality seems to bubble through in some genuinely great ways sometimes. He’s passionate and seemingly very comfortable in his own skin. A true number one receiver in every sense. Hopefully just more in the light-hearted vein of Ochocinco than the disruptive vein of T.O.
5.) Chris Bosh- Bosh really shouldn’t even be this high, he’s riding the coattails of Wade and Lebron. I have nothing against Bosh, he’s an NBA All-Star, but whereas Wade and Lebron can single-handedly will a team to the playoffs, Bosh has had his shot to be “the guy” and didn’t exactly nail it. He’s a phenomenal set piece with Wade and James, but alone, Bosh isn’t enjoying this level of superstardom. Again, I’m not bashing the guy, I’m just saying he’s not at the elite level of superstardom on his own.
6.) Ricky Williams- Yes, Ricky Williams is pretty damn popular. Nationally people definitely know of him, if just for his wild off-the-field odyssey and recent ESPN documentary. In Miami Williams is the quintessential prodigal son, derided when he decided to leave he’s now amongst the most popular and beloved Dolphins. I think he ultimately could be a ring of honor guy. As enigmatic and intriguing as he is, he is equally talented. And part of our fascination with Ricky stems from his continual struggle not to let his immense talent define who he is. Few athletes are more captivating and genuinely interesting than Ricky Williams, who is becoming increasingly more present in the South Florida community.
7.) Pat Riley- Right now Riley is a king, depending on when you asked Heat fans last season he may not have even made this list. But after having what was potentially one of the most successful off-seasons in the history of professional sports, Riley is back in Miami’s good graces. No one walks the fine line between being a cool, slicked-back Pacino-like executive and an over-gresased slightly creepy older man better than Riley. Right now he’s on the right side of that line and all anyone can talk about is how well he played the free agent market or his legacy in the NBA. If this experiment backfires, it will be interesting to see how fast that tune could change though…
8.) Don Shula- Shula’s influence may be waning in the time since his tenure as the coach of the Dolphins ended. But make no mistakes he’s still the Don. Aside from having a very successful chain of steakhouses, Shula’s fame as the winningest coach of all time is undeniable. The head coach and face of the unbeaten ’72 Dolphins, Shula is South Florida royalty. He can have a table at any restaurant, a box at any stadium, a ticket to any show. I’m pretty sure he can actually order a hit. If Don Shula wanted to take over the Dolphins tomorrow, I’m pretty sure he could have Parcells out on his ear.
9.) Hanley Ramirez- Hanley Ramirez is in a dead market. Playing for the Marlins must feel like baseball purgatory, but he’s signed on long term. Despite being arguably the best player in the National League not named Albert Pujols, Hanley enjoys no where near the fanfare he deserves. It doesn’t help that on the rare instances he is getting publicity lately nationally that it’s been for bad things. Regardless, a talent like Hanley deserves better than to be relegated to the bottom of this list playing for a bush league franchise.
10.) Bill Parcells- Parcells is, in my opinion, now a fairly overrated commodity. But he’s our overrated commodity and his mere association with the Dolphins organization gives it an increased credibility. Parcells is widely credited as being one of the best football minds ever… EVER. Whether or not you buy it, his moves are usually seen more positively, Miami is rarely questioned for its direction or organizational choices and the entire organization comes off as very professional and well run. Parcells is only as visible as he wants to be, all kidding about Shula aside if anyone on this list fancies themselves a mafia don it’s the Jersey-born Parcells. But there’s no denying his influence and clout. Hence he rounds out the list.
People who just missed or should have made it…
Chad Henne- Chad Henne may one day be a star, but in South Florida he has a ways to go before he cracks the top. Hopefully Henne’s production on the field warrants stardom, my only concern is that we’ve yet to see much personality out of Henne. Charisma sells, baby.
Vontae Davis- You just get the feeling that this guy could be huge. He has both the physical talent and the charisma to be a star, all that needs to happen now is he has to put it all together.
Chris Coghlan- Admittedly I’m biased, I played little league with him and he lived just a few subdivisions away from me. But why hasn’t Chris Coghlan received more fanfare? He’s a talented young hitter who changed positions to get on the field, Rookie of the Year last season, a college stalwart at Ole Miss and he’s good people. He also has a good story that saw him overcome personal tragedy. But you never hear much about him, I know he’s having a tough sophomore season, but still, nothing.
Mike Stanton- What drives me nuts about Yankees and Red Sox fans is their obligatory, “when’s he a free agent, we’ll see where he signs…” line. But if ever there were a player that this were truer of than Mike Stanton, I’m yet to see him. Stanton is a five-tool player who received considerable buzz before ever even making the majors. He may make the list for a little while, but he won’t be in Miami long.
Anyone from the Panthers- Did you know there’s a hockey team down here?
Randy Shannon- He maybe should have made the bottom of the list, but I still think he’s potentially a lame-duck coach even despite his recent extension. Recruiting has tapered off a lot, there’s a ton of other schools raiding south Florida for talent right now, and if he doesn’t win the ACC next year he’s out of his job. I like Randy Shannon, he’s a great D-coordinator, I’m not sold on him as a head coach though. Go ‘Noles!
At any rate, that’s the list. Let me know your list in the comments. Obviously this is just for fun so no one needs to take it too seriously. The Fins report to camp the 30th, we’ve got a lot of things planned to make this season our best ever as a site. It’s almost time for some football!