Archive | June 2013

Miami Heat are world Champions

Erik Spoelstra might not get the credit he deserves from those outside the Heat organization, but that might change after he led Miami to its second NBA title in two seasons.


Erik Spoelstra may be 42, but he doesn’t look much different than he did 20 years ago.

Spoelstra, who just completed his fifth season as coach of the Heat, still wears the same kind of things he did back in the 1990s from retro Air Jordans to a gold-toned Casio diving watch complete with a thick black rubber strap.

During Heat practices, Spoelstra isn’t shy about getting out on the court and demonstrating what he’s trying to teach — much like he did as an assistant coach under Stan Van Gundy and Pat Riley during his 30s.

It may be his boyish looks or his good fortune of being the Heat coach when LeBron James and Chris Bosh were lured to Miami to join Dwyane Wade, but Spoelstra doesn’t get the respect other coaches who have won a pair of NBA titles would get.

Perhaps that is changing.

“We used to call him the best young coach in the NBA,” Heat TV voice Eric Reid said at Monday’s rally at AmericanAirlines Arena. “But now, after two straight championships, why don’t we just call him the best coach in the NBA?”

Spoelstra has said he doesn’t care what others outside the Heat organization think of him. Spoelstra has the complete support of Riley and the rest of the Miami front office and, truthfully, that’s all that matters.

If more respect is headed his way, Miami being able to outlast Indiana and San Antonio by winning Game 7s could be a big reason why.

“That’s what competition is about,” Spoelstra said after Miami’s win on Thursday. “I mentioned that all series long. If people say it’s only because of us that we lost or we struggled and we should have had an easier run, that’s not giving any credit to the Indiana Pacers or the Spurs. They were great teams. They were incredible challenges to us that we had to overcome.

“It’s never easy. As tough as last year was, it seemed like this year was even tougher. Particularly these last two rounds.”

One of Spoelstra’s biggest champions — aside from Riley — is former Knicks coach and current ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Van Gundy, former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy’s older brother, said in the closing minutes of Thursday’s Game 7 win against San Antonio that Spoelstra was the best coach the Heat had ever had.

A former assistant under Riley with the Knicks, Jeff Van Gundy said Monday he meant no disrespect to the Heat president. But he says he’s not the only one who believes Spoelstra is deserving of that title as the Heat’s best coach.

“I know Pat Riley, have coached for him and competed against him. He’s already a Hall of Fame coach,” Van Gundy said. “But after what Spo has accomplished, I think coach Riley would agree with me. Look at what he’s done. He’s won 11 series in three years, has been to the Finals three straight years and has won back-to-back titles.

“Erik has gotten the most from his talent at hand.”

Spoelstra is a basketball junkie who started working for the Heat 18 years ago as a video coordinator. He spent countless hours going through tape before moving up through the ranks within basketball operations.

Since joining the team, Spoelstra also has been an advance scout and was the director of scouting in charge of getting the Heat prepared for future opponents.

Spoelstra, who coached the Heat’s summer-league team for three years, took over when Riley stepped away from the bench in 2008.

“He had every job imaginable on the basketball side leading into him becoming a head coach,” Jeff Van Gundy said. “That was a great benefit. He was well-prepared when he took over in all facets of the organization and what the job entailed.

“I remember Stan always talking to me about Erik before anyone knew too much about him, always said how good and talented he was. Pat Riley does a great job of picking people before others recognize their greatness. He did it with Erik. He has absolutely fulfilled what Pat saw in him long ago.”

Spoelstra inherited a Miami team that won 15 games in 2007-08 and led it to the biggest improvement in franchise history as the Heat went 43-39 in his rookie season.

The following year, Miami went 47-35. Both years, the Heat got knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round — by Atlanta in 2009 and Boston in 2010.

Jeff Van Gundy credits the job Spoelstra did in his first two years as head coach in Miami for helping Riley sell James and Bosh on joining forces with Wade in 2010.

This year, Miami set a franchise record for wins in a season and had the second-longest winning streak in NBA history.

“I thought the job he did in his first two years [is] as impressive as what he’s done over the past three,” Jeff Van Gundy said.

“He absolutely got the most out of those first two teams as they were playoff contenders. That got the attention of Bosh and James. It opened their eyes as to how things could be if they came down to Miami. That played a big part in them coming. All five of Erik’s years [have] been incredible.”

Things would soon change in the summer of 2010 as expectations were raised. Miami became the most scrutinized team in sports, and some thought Spoelstra wouldn’t survive the storm.

He did.

On Monday, he got to celebrate another title atop a bus on the streets of Miami. Spoelstra did so wearing his Jordans with his championship cap on backward.

“Miami,” Spoelstra said, “knows how to party.”



Michael Wagner Vero Beach


Tonight boils down to one man. Can he carry the weight of the franchise while caring the weight of his legacy?

Duane Michael Wagner Vero Beach Fl

By Steve GortenSun Sentinel

5:28 p.m. EDT, June 19, 2013


MIAMI – The home team has won all but three of the 17 Game 7s in NBA Finals history, with the last road winner being Washington against Seattle in 1978.

How does that affect how the San Antonio views its challenge of trying to win Game 7 of this year’s Finals against the Heat Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena?

“I don’t really care what it’s been like for anybody else at any time,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Wednesday’s practice. “All I know is we have had a hell of a year, and we have an opportunity to win a championship [Thursday] night. That’s all that matters.”

While only one player for the Heat as Game 7 experience in the Finals – Ray Allen lost with the Celtics to the Lakers in 2010 – the Spurs have three players that can boast that. Their Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili knocked off the Pistons in Game 7 to win the 2005 NBA Finals, with Duncan scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the deciding game and being named Finals MVP.

“Yeah, it will definitely help,” Parker said. “The experience of Game 7 in the Finals, it’s a great memory. We should be happy about that opportunity to try to make history. It’s a great challenge. We know we can beat them here. We just have to do it again. If you told me before the season that we’ll be 3-3 in the Finals against Miami, I think everybody on the team would sign up for it.”


Ginobili recalled Wednesday that the Spurs rebounded from a tough, close loss to the Pistons in Game 6 to win the title, but pointed out that they won Game 7 at home, and that it happened eight years ago.  

After 12 hours to marinate on Tuesday night’s loss, he noted, “You feel a little better knowing we have another chance, that we can do so many things better and that we’re in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals. We’re still in a great situation.”

Ginobili added, “When you lose a world championship final or a game for a bronze [medal], you have no tomorrow. In this case, we do have another option, the last one, and we’ll try to bounce back.”

What’s it like playing in a Game 7 in the Finals?

“It’s unbelievable,” Ginobili said, recalling the 2005 Finals. “When you’re in it, you don’t get to enjoy it, really. There are so many things in your head – the pressure, the responsibility, the game plan – that you can’t really picture yourself from outside. But with time, it does sink in. And this situation where there’s no margin for error, it’s what we all live for. We’re all going to remember having lived this situation.”

Reserve guard Gary Neal said the 103-100 overtime loss in Game 6 “has no bearing” on Game 7, adding that, “nothing about Game 6 is relevant.” When asked about many outside observers writing off the Spurs in Thursday’s finale because of the fashion in which Tuesday’s game ended,  Neal said he wasn’t aware of that.

“During times like this, during the playoffs, you don’t watch SportsCenter or anything like that,” he said. “That’s not our concern. The people in the locker room, the coaching staff and the players are all we’re worried about.  Everybody believes in each other.  We believe we have what it takes to get a Game 7 win.  That’s the only thing we’re worried about.   What it takes to get a Game 7 win.  So that’s the only thing we’re worried about.”

Duncan said fatigue won’t be a factor for him in Game 7 despite playing 44-plus minutes in Game 6. The Spurs as a whole aren’t worn down physically, or emotionally, either, he added.

“We’re not tired in any way. There’s no being tired at this point,” Duncan said. “We’ve got one more game to win, and that’s all that matters.” Follow him on Twitter @sgorten

Copyright © 2013, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


Duane Michael Wagner Vero Beach Florida, Jupiter/Palm Beach Gardens Chief Marketing Strategist 



Duane Wagner Vero Beach

Duane Wagner Vero Beach


The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday it plans to stave off possible sugar loan forfeitures by purchasing approximately 300,000 tons of sugar from the U.S. market.

While the move is expected to bolster sagging U.S. sugar prices for producers, it is unlikely to impact what consumers pay for sugar or sugar-containing products such as cookies and candy.

40% of Homes underwater

The percentage of underwater Palm Beach County homes with mortgages was 36.6 percent in the first quarter of the year, the second quarter in a row to see a dip below 40 percent.

According to a report released this morning by the Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic, about 113,800 homeowners in Palm Beach County owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth during the first three months of 2013.

That’s a nearly 10,000-home drop from the end of 2012 when 124,105 county homes were underwater.
The county’s highest underwater rate was measured in the third quarter of 2009 when 44.8 percent of homeowners owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth.

Still, statewide, Florida ranked second nationally for the highest rate of negative equity with 38.1 percent of all homes underwater.

Tampa and Miami ranked highest nationally among large metro areas for the percent of underwater homes at 44.1 percent and 40.7 percent, respectively.

CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming was mostly optimistic about increasing equity nationwide.

Nationally, 19.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage were underwater during the first quarter. That’s down from 21.7 percent at the end of 2012.

“The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity,” Fleming said. “During the past year, 1.7 million borrowers nationwide have regained positive equity. We expect the pent-up supply that falling negative equity releases will moderate price gains in many of the fast-appreciating markets this spring.”

Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity, followed by Florida at 38.1 percent. Other states with high negative equity were Michigan (32 percent), Arizona (31.3 percent) and Georgia (30.5 percent).

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Michael Wagner Vero Beach, Fl Marketing Strategist 



What to get your foodie father for father’s day


Mother’s Day gift-giving is simple, thanks to the marketing minds of the food and dining world that appear to conspire with greeting card companies. For Mom, there’s brunch, flowers, chocolates, cooking-related gifts galore, and copious cocktails mixed in her honor.

For Dad, there’s grilling and booze. How is that fair to your Foodie Father? (“Here’s a new grilling spatula, Pops — go make me a burger.”)

They do try, the marketing minds. They send an avalanche of pitches for everything from burger molds to disposable grill plates, from coffeemakers to cocktail shakers. We have sifted through the possibilities, as well as the specials and deals, and we’ve come up with the following suggestions on what Foodie Father might enjoy.


Buy Dad tickets to the PGA National Resort’s Craft Beer Festival & Burger Bash.

The festival happens Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., offering burgers from some terrific local eateries along with a “Craft Beer Garden” of more than 50 brews.

Tickets are $40 in advance, but the PGA is offering deals to entice you to make a weekend of it. The resort is a special $169 rate for Saturday night, which includes two tickets to the fest. Take Dad to brunch at the resort’s Ironwood Steak and Seafood Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and get $10 off the $40 brunch price ($20 per child) if you show your festival ticket stub.

To buy festival tickets, visit To book the overnight package, call 855-896-4762. To reserve for Sunday brunch, call 561-627-4852. PGA National Resort & Spa: 400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens; 800-863-2819;

Buy Dad a growler of local craft brew.

You can buy a refillable growler of beer at two of the best craft breweries in Florida.

  • At Tequesta Brewing Company, fill a gallon growler for $28 and refill it whenever you’d like for $18. Or pick up a quart-size growler for $13 and refill for $6. It’s the perfect time to check out Tequesta’s new Hoppy Amber, just released Tuesday. And as a Father’s Day special, the brewery/bar is offering a $35 gallon growler which includes your choice of hat or t-shirt. (Refills on that are $18.)Tequesta Brewing Company: 287 U.S. Highway 1, Tequesta; 561-745-5000; search “Tequesta-Brewing-Co” on Facebook.
  • At Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach, you can grab a refillable growler for $32 per gallon. Not sure what to take home? You can’t go wrong with the smooth-drinking favorite: the Caramel Cream Ale. It’s one of the reasons why Due South beer is now available in more than 175 locations from Key West to Vero Beach.Due South Brewing: 2900 High Ridge Road, #3, Boynton Beach; 561-463-2337;



Here’s a pairing for the modern foodie dad: a frothy craft beer that’s matched with nuanced cheeses.

The newly released “Cheese & Beer” book (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $24.99) by Janet Fletcher suggests pairing a mellow, malty brown ale such as the Tampa-brewed Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale with Alpine-style cheese, like Comte and Beauford.

“Brown ale’s nutty and toffee aromas and relative lack of bitterness make for harmony with cheeses that have similar, toasty, brown-butter notes and mellow character,” writes Fletcher.

Or go for an “American Cheddar smackdown,” as the San Francisco-based cheese columnist suggests. Pair fine Cheddar cheeses from Wisconsin, California and Vermont with a toasty and floral Red Tail Ale from Mendocino Brewing Company.

Find a nice range of cheeses at any of the Whole Foods Market locations, or try The Cheese Course at Mizner Park, 305 Plaza Real, #1305, Boca Raton; 561-395-4354.

Add a copy of the handsomely photographed book (which can be ordered at or to give Dad a couple dozen suggestions for cheese and beer pairing experiences.


North county offers a couple of good options:

  • At In the Kitchen, Tequesta: Check out the “Hands-on Pizza Making Class” on June 22, at 2 p.m. Here, Dad can learn to make from-scratch grilled pizzas. The class costs $100; seating is quite limited. In the Kitchen: 389 Tequesta Drive (Gallery Square North), Tequesta; 561-747-7117;
  • At Jupiter Kitchen Works: Check out the “Grilling in the Kitchen” class, also on June 22, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The menu includes sirloin sliders with grilled onions and creamy horseradish mayo, cumin-spiced veggie kebabs with chimichurri and couscous and vanilla bean crème brulee. The class is $50 per person. Jupiter Kitchen Works: 185 East Indiantown Road, Jupiter; 561-596-7117;