Greg Cote’s Hot Button Top 10: Heavy lift starts now for Panthers; Butker, Scheffler, Preakness & more

GREG COTE’S HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MAY 19): WHAT IN SPORTS HAS GRABBED US THIS WEEK: Our Sunday Hot Button Top 10 had been blog-only but when our blog retired it moved, re-imagined, to online-only. HB10 means what’s on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective and accentuating stuff that’s big, weird, damnable, funny or otherwise worth needling as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. Welcome to the 60th edition of your Sunday sports-potpourri notes column, the new HB10:

1. PANTHERS: Now it gets serious as Rangers await in NHL Eastern finals: The Florida Panthers comfortably beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in the first round and had it tougher but were clearly better than the Boston Bruins in the second in winning 4-2. Now the home-ice advantage is gone in an Eastern finals that finds the Cats and New York Rangers near even in betting odds as the best-of-7 starts Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. My pick? Been on the bandwagon the whole way and not leaving now. Aleksander Barkov will be the best player on the ice. Year of the Cat. Florida in six.

2. NFL: Butker shames Chiefs, NFL, humankind in college speech: Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, please do tell us again how it was in the halcyon 1940s, when society saw a woman’s place as in the home, raising babies and knowing she was subservient to her man. That’s what this moron advocated in a shameful commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas -- a spew of backward misogyny that has since been rightly vilified. His was a toxic cocktail of homophobia and anti-women’s rights in blasting “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.” He called it “diabolical lies” to say some women might prefer to work outside the home. One of those women, by the way, is his own mother, Elizabeth Butker, a medical physicist in the department of radiation oncology at Emory University. NFL issued tepid disapproval of the kicker, noting he was on his own time and that his views don’t reflect those of the league. Weak. A sharp rebuke by the NFL and Chiefs is needed. And NFL fans including those in K.C. should delight to boo this Neanderthal ass every time he steps on the field.

3. DOLPHINS: Schedule declares Miami a ready-for-prime-time player: Newly released NFL schedule opens September 5 and features five international games and two on Christmas Day (a Wednesday). Miami’s sked includes five prime-time games (only three teams have more) and is on the soft side, with foes a combined .488 last year, tied for 24th. Fins face an early tough test though with rival Buffalo here in Week 2 Thursday nighter. Schedule also ends tough starting Thanksgiving night in Green Bay, then vs. Jets, at improved Houston, 49ers here, then on road with weather a likely factor at Cleveland and Jets. Also a negative for Fins: Early-season 1 p.m. starts that present a heat advantage will have minimal impact because, after a 1 p.m. home season opener, Miami isn’t home at 1 again until Week 8. Meantime Dolphins have six offseason workdays between May 20-31, then a mandatory minicamp June 4-6.

4. GOLF: Co-leaders top PGA into Sunday; Scheffler arrest mars major: Xander Schauffele tops the 106th PGA Championship leaderboard in Louisville for a third straight day but Sunday is joined by co-leader Collin Morikawa. Entering the final round at Valhalla they are knotted 15-under. Masters winner and world No.1 Scottie Scheffler shot 73 and is eight shots back. Scheffler was betting favorite going in but his shocking arrest early Friday morning before round two stained the year’s second major. He was busted by Louisville police attempting to drive into the club. Traffic outside was stopped after a pedestrian was struck and killed by a shuttle bus around 5 a.m. Scheffler was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer (a felony) along with third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding an officer directing traffic.

5. BOXING: Usyk beats Fury for undisputed crown: Oleksander Usyk won a split-decision over Tyson Fury in a hyped-up “fight of the century” Saturday night in Saudi Arabia. Hyperbole, but the hype had a point. Fury, 35, entered 34-0-1 with 24 KOs while Usyk, 37, was 21-0 with 14 KOs. And this was for the undisputed heavyweight world championship -- boxing’s first in almost a quarter-century, since Lennox Lewis in 2000, and first ever in the four-belt era. Usyk floored Fury in the ninth round to help earn the non-unanimous verdict.

6. WNBA: Caitlin’s pro debut did not disappoint (even if she maybe did): Her Indiana Fever lost big at Connecticut and No. 1 draft pick Caitlin Clark (though she scored 20 points) shot poorly and had 10 turnovers (!) in what looked every bit a rookie baptism. But credit Clark, the sensation from Iowa, for drawing the WNBA’s biggest TV audience in 23 years -- since one year before she was born. Will it last? Indiana got the top pick for a reason. They figure to be bad again (0-3 start), with Clark averaging an OK 17 points. What if Clark has an ordinary, up-and-down rookie year? I say she finds her groove and is a star at this level, too.

7. HORSE RACING: Seize the Grey seizes the day in Preakness: Seize the Grey ended the Triple Crown bid of Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan on Saturday with a wire-to-wire victory in the 149th Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. Mystik Dan went off a 5-2 favorite to also win at Pimlico but finished second. Thoroughbred racing’s last Triple Crown winner was Justify in 2018. Muth had been the Preakness betting favorite but was scratched on account of a fever and a terrible name for a race horse.

8. HEAT: Wait. Somebody thinks Miami might draft Bronny James!?:, a fairly respected sports news site despite being named Yahoo, lists five most likely teams to draft LeBron’s son next month, and Miami is one, and the only team in the East. (Others are Lakers, Jazz, Spurs and Thunder.) Heat has the 15th and 43rd picks. Zero chance they use their mid-first round pick on Bronny. At No. 43 it’s plausible but doubtful. Bronny is an undersized guard with heart issues (though medically cleared), draftable at all mostly for his surname/bloodline. Let Junior be some other team’s longshot project.

9. INTER MIAMI: Signed Messi napkin sells at auction for almost $1 million: The insane adoration of Lionel Messi, latest chapter: The famous napkin that forged Messi’s future with Barcelona has sold at auction in England for £762,400 -- or $965,000 U.S. (My wife did not like me spending that much.) British auction house Bonhams offered what Messi, then 13, wrote on a napkin at a Barcelona tennis club, with a formal contract soon to follow. The artifact was offered by Horacio Gaggioli, an agent at the time. In other news, IM leads the MLS East and continued a nine-match unbeaten streak with Saturday’s 1-0 home win over D.C. United.

10. NFL: Disingenuous Brady shocked roast negatively affected his kids: Tom Brady on being the subject of a recent Netflix celebrity roast: “I didn’t like the way that it affected my kids.” Rest of the world: “We’re shocked you would dare feign surprise or be that [bleep]ing oblivious!” Tommy, you may have heard: Roasts tend to be raunchy, no-holds-barred affairs, including stuff like, say, a very public divorce from one’s supermodel wife. What’d you expect? (As for Jack, 16, Benjamin, 14 and Vivian, 11: They’ve dealt with your and Giselle’s breakup and Dad’s inability even in retirement to not be the center of attention ... bet they’ll get get through this, too.)

Other most recent stuff from me: ‘Live it. Enjoy it!’: Florida Panthers eliminate Boston, reach NHL East finals again // New Dolphin Odell Beckham Jr. has the name & fame. Does he still have the game? // Panthers series lead turns precarious as home loss forces Game 6 in Boston // Panthers’ road rally sends Cats home up 3-1 over demoralized Bruins // Greg Cote’s Poll Dance debuts: Butler’s future with Heat // Previous HB10 // Eliminated, now what? Miami Heat must change. Jimmy Butler cannot be best player if another NBA title is the aim // NFL Draft: Greg Cote hits 9 big Exactos in hot mock draft; Dolphins get Chop Robinson // New season, same problem: Miami Marlins’ way-too-low spending unfair to players, insult to fans // And my latest podcast: