Tepid Heat drive fans to drink (for free)

In late October, a bar in Hollywood, Fla., offered patrons free drinks if the Miami Heat lost their season opener against the Boston Celtics. It seemed a fairly safe bet at the time.

As it turned out, the Whisky Tango picked up a $4,000 tab when the Celtics spoiled the Heat’s big night, 88-80.

In a show of confidence in LeBron James and Co., the bar owners decided to keep the promotion going all season. So far, with the Heat struggling at 10-8, the bar is out more than $30,000, but co-owner John Todora isn’t backing off.

“As a fan, you can’t lose,” Todora told CNBC. “If they win, you go home happy. If they lose, at least we’ve compensated you in some way.”

Todora said the bar has no insurance to cover it when the Heat lose, so it is on the hook for the free drinks. A patron has to sign up at least 30 minutes before tip-off, and if the Heat lose, the fan gets a free bar tab worth up to $25.

“We’re kind of at the mercy of the Heat,” Todora said. “But we’re happy we did this. It has given us so much publicity.”

Maybe they can send James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh the bill after the season and the Big Three can divvy it up to cover for all the financial misery they’ve caused.

■ EASY CALL — Say what you want about Texas Christian’s decision to leave the Mountain West for the Big East. But from the Horned Frogs’ perspective, it was a no-brainer.

By leaving, TCU accomplishes two primary goals for its football program. Primarily, it ensures itself of being in the Bowl Championship Series mix because the Big East is an automatic qualifier. Second, by leaving the MWC, the Horned Frogs will get to play the occasional game on ESPN, which can only help in recruiting and providing the program with greater exposure than being hidden away on The Mtn. or CBS College Sports.

As TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said during the official announcement Monday, “The opportunity to be on ESPN, the exposure for our programs, is phenomenal.”

Sure, it won’t help TCU’s basketball programs because the competition in the Big East is tougher than the Mountain West, especially on the women’s side with perennial powerhouse Connecticut. But this isn’t about basketball and never has been. It was a football decision and for TCU the right one given the cloudy future of the Mountain West.

So adios, Horned Frogs, enjoy the Carrier Dome, Renchsler Field and Rutgers Stadium.

■ LOWLIFES OF THE YEAR — Thieves don’t usually have a conscience, which is why they steal in the first place. But most crooks wouldn’t rip off a grieving widow, would they?

In Montreal, they would. While she was preparing to attend the funeral of her husband, former NHL coach Pat Burns, someone broke into Line Burns’ car and stole 30 autographed hockey jerseys that had belonged to Burns, who died last week after a long battle with cancer.

Burns’ widow discovered the crime Tuesday morning, hours after she had laid her husband to rest and attended a wake at a downtown Montreal bar.


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