Friday, April 12, 2019

Sports Sturm’s Weekend Riffing: Dirk’s retirement, trade ideas & your D-Law feedback

This week heaped quite a lot on our collective sports plates.
My single favorite basketball player (and that of many readers, too) has retired in a fashion befitting his accomplishments. I am so impressed and proud of Dirk Nowitzki that words fail me. At the same time, such beautiful things have been written about him that it feels cliche for me to riff about The Big German this morning. I will only offer this: the thing that strikes me most about Dirk is that he is as grounded and normal as an NBA Superstar could possibly be. I have spoken to him annually since he was a rookie and have seen a teenager become a 40-year old during my run in Dallas. He arrived in June of 1998 and I made it here a month later. He came in a trade from Milwaukee and I grew up not far from there. We both were exceptional shooters in our basketball careers. Ok, I will stop.
But one thing that is absolutely true about my basketball hero is that he can use the “nobody believed in me” cliche so many big-time athletes misuse. I am sorry, but I don’t want to hear Kevin Durant or LeBron James tell me nobody believed in them when in fact, everybody did.
Dirk is different. He was often mocked, and mocked by many. That list includes the great Eddie Sefko (who has spent most of his career covering Dirk and has certainly taken his share of grief from this 1998 draft grade :
“Dallas Mavericks: F
The Mavs had an infatuation with Dirk Nowitzki from the start, but they basically gave up the No. 6 pick and an almost-certain lottery pick next season to get Phoenix’s Steve Nash and the German big man. Europeans are such a risky bet, especially in the lottery. So many bust. So few bloom. And Nash is a gamble.”
Dirk was then mocked throughout his career for being soft, being European and being white.  Remember when Nick Van Exel repeated back what Portland had allegedly claimed about the Mavericks at the time?
“A bunch of soft white boys and can’t get it done. I guess we showed them. We’ve got to step up. White, black, green. It doesn’t matter. This team has a great record with a bunch of white boys.”
Don Nelson joined them during that time:
“What? You mean we have too many white players?” coach Don Nelson said when asked about the smear. “Never heard it. If a guy’s good, he’s good. The European players, the ones who make it, make it.”
Of course, old friend Dwyane Wade took his shots after the 2006 Finals:
“Dirk said that they gave us the championship last year, but he’s the reason they lost the championship because he wasn’t the leader he’s supposed to be in the closing moments.”
Through it all, Nowitzki generally took note of what was being said, took the high road and got back to work. Believe me when I say this, there was a time — a long time during his run — where his own city exhibited massive ranges in opinion about how good he was and whether he was a legitimate superstar.
He didn’t fit the archetype. He didn’t play like the superstars and he sure didn’t talk like them. He wasn’t vacationing with them and he wasn’t in the cool kids club.
He played 21 years and for more than half, we who were loyalists had to defend him repeatedly against critics near and far.
There were times — many of them — where nobody believed in him or his teams.
Everyone’s faith wavered in 2006 when the Finals slipped away to Miami. It wavered in 2007 when the first round brought on a massive humiliation at the hands of the Warriors. It wavered in 2008 when the Hornets quickly dismissed Dallas, and in 2009 when the Nuggets took them apart in five games. The next year, San Antonio put the Mavericks to sleep without mercy.
The fact that they wrote the most marvelous fairy tale on their way to an NBA title in 2011 was unthinkable. Dirk Nowitzki played his best basketball to climb the highest mountain imaginable. In his path laid the scalps of Bryant of the Lakers, Durant, Westbrook, and Harden of the Thunder, and finally James, Wade, and Bosh of the hated Heat as the Mavericks reached the summit.
During that run, Dirk flipped the script on his entire life’s work. He captured the respect and adoration of the basketball world in stunning fashion by winning in a style we had never seen before. Surely, a European big man who shoots from the perimeter and has been widely insulted for his defense couldn’t lead a team of other guys who had spent their careers ringless all the way to the title against the new brand of super teams!
But it happened. All of it.
Since then, he went from being critically-maligned to the first of his kind. A revolutionary evolution of the game’s worldwide footprint. He has since inspired countless kids from around the world who all wish to be the next Dirk. And in doing so, Dirk inspired America’s fickle basketball audience to appreciate a different approach to the same quest of greatness. Superstars no longer resisted crediting or copying him. He became the influencer.
For those of us who clearly remember the mockery, the doubts, the frustration and even the ideas to trade him for someone better, this transformation in two decades seems difficult to comprehend. It is, of course, made even better because all along, all he did was handle every situation with the utmost class, resembling the gentlemanly approach of Roger Staubach: respect, dignity, and the competitive fuel to fight and battle to the very end.
There have been better players in the history of the sport and you can have them. This journey has been special and I will always take my guy. We can squint and look for another, but there is no such thing.
I never imagined growing up that my favorite basketball player of all time would be a man born and raised in Germany.
Yet, here we are.
What a career, what a competitor, and what a model sportsman Dallas can forever claim as its own.
During the 2011 playoff run, the picture which would always pop up on Twitter perfectly grabbed that moment in time for me. I don’t think he ever said the quote in the picture, but it didn’t matter. He made us feel like he did. He played like it and he was amused by the picture when I asked him about it later.
I end this riff with the picture which takes me back to that glorious run in April, May, and June 2011. I will never forget it as long as I live.
That’s my GOAT.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Things That Interest Me - 2019


Above, is the greatest goal I think I have ever seen in person. David Beckham in his prime with a brilliant chip on my trip to Upton Park in 2002.

So, for no other reason than planning for another trip, I recently pulled that game out and posted it up for you. And, while I am at it, here are the 19 matches I have seen in the United Kingdom to date.

The Results from my 7 Road Trips to England:

Deportivo 2, Arsenal 0 3/12/2002 - Champions League - Highbury

Manchester United 5, West Ham 3 3/16/2002 - Upton Park

Arsenal 2, Charlton 1 2/28/2004 - Highbury

Newcastle 1, Portsmouth 1 2/29/2004 - Fratton Park

2007 Trip Recap Blog Here

Manchester United 1, Liverpool 0 3/3/07 - Anfield

Blackburn 2, Bolton 1 3/4/07 - Reebok Stadium

Chelsea 3, Aston Villa 0 4/10/10 - FA Cup Semifinal - Wembley

Liverpool 0, Fulham 0 4/11/10 - Anfield

2012 Trip Recap Blog Here

Southend 3, Barnet 0  4/20/12 - Roots Hall

Arsenal 0, Chelsea 0  4/21/12 - Emirates

Queens Park Rangers 1, Tottenham 0  4/21/12 - Loftus Road

Manchester United 4, Everton 4  4/22/12 - Old Trafford

2014 Trip Recap Blog Here

Millwall 1, Bournemouth 0 5/3/14 - The Den

Arsenal 1, West Bromwich 0  5/4/14 - The Emirates

Chelsea 0, Norwich City 0  5/4/14 - Stamford Bridge

Crystal Palace 3, Liverpool 3  5/5/14 - Selhurst Park

Below is my view from that amazing night.


Nottingham Forest 3, Fulham 1 4/23/16 - Craven Cottage

Crystal Palace 2, Watford 1 - FA Cup Semifinal - Wembley Stadium - 4/24/16

Tottenham 1, West Bromwich 1 - 4/25/16 - White Hart Lane

And now, the 2019 voyage is booked -

Huddersfield Town at Tottenham - 4/12/19
Chelsea at Liverpool - 4/13/19
Arsenal at Watford - 4/14/19

I imagine it would have to be a really boring day at your job to find this interesting, but that is why I named this post like I did. In fact, I was just looking through my ticket stubs the other day and was reminded of the day in February of 2004 when I had a chance to see Arsenal in person (with Spike Lee and the picture I took below)

Various other video items from these matches:

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Cutting weight and getting with Keto

It happened again.  I gained a few pounds too many.  And then a few more.  And a few more.  Before long, I had “PR’d” in something where you don’t wish to set a PR.  I had hit an all-time high in my weight.

It’s a big number. Bigger than I ever wanted to be. Now, I am 6’4 and perhaps vain, because people tell me there is no way I weigh as much as the scale told me, but I really don’t care what nice things people say to others in this situation. I cared what the scale was saying.

After a few years of being in a good spot of fitness, I hurt my back and through a series of unfortunate events, I had to change my exercise routine.  Basically, it went from running a ton to biking a decent amount.  That certainly didn’t help.

Aging didn’t help either. Metabolism slows with age and you can’t do things at 46 that you could do at 36.  I am a breakfast cereal enthusiast, for instance.  That is perhaps not a great plan to eat a couple bowls of golden grahams to start the day if you want to stay slim and trim.

Now, if you keep close tabs on my life, you know I have spent many years working with George DiGianni on fitness and his 21-day body makeover.  His system works every time and I am able to shed unwanted weight in a hurry.  Of course, he aspires to change my approach to life, but I am a stubborn one.

Usually, within a bit after is program is finished, I return to eating like a goat and for me that includes carbs.  Lots and lots and lots of them.  I love carbs so much.  I am not going to try to kid you on this.  I love white bread and fresh toast and pancakes and doughnuts and pizza and cookies. Man, I never walk by cookies. Cake?  Yes, please.  Cupcakes and on and on.  I love rice and potatoes and everything that is just not a good plan for someone who is trying to maintain the proper weight and waistline.  

Something had to give, but I probably wasn’t going to concede until that biggest number hit the scale.  

It was depressing.  I needed George to level with me.

He walked me through the Keto world that fitness people know so well:

What I’m about to share with you is not new, in fact, science has been strong since the 1920’s when the Ketogenic diet was developed for people with epilepsy. With that success, focused turned to diabetes and a host of other diseases.
We are all born in a state of ketosis. Eating carbs and too much protein kick us out of ketosis.
Some will say we need carbs to live. Bull…, we don’t need carbs to live. Can we benefit from certain carbs such as veggies and fruit? Of course, however, they are not needed to live since the body will easily live on the energy protein and fat give us.
When you eat carbs, they go to the liver and turn to glucose to be used as fuel. 
When you eat protein, it too goes to the liver and turns to glucose called Gluconeogenesis- the metabolic process when protein produces sugars to be used as fuel. 
That means you have to exercise to prevent that glucose from converting to fat.
Now, it’s common sense eating too much of any macronutrient can have that effect. 
So, people who think they need more protein than the 20% recommended in the program are not going into a state of ketosis, therefore, they must work out more to use the extra energy
However, extremely high fat 70-75%, low carb 5%, and 20% protein of your daily calories forces your body to produce ketones in the liver. 
Eating this way creates satiety that prevents us from eating too much, we simply don’t want more food and removes the discipline most of us need to stave off that cupcake or bread on any other program in existence.
These ketones are saying, "okay, since there are no carbs or protein to use for fuel, we’re going to have to resort to using fat for energy. 

Now, I trust George because we have worked together before many times for many years.  Like I already said, I get that might look bad on him that I keep backsliding.  But, this Keto approach makes intuitive sense to me and it also fits my approach pretty well. I love the avocados and the bacon and the cheeses and everything that is back in play here.  It isn’t difficult.  I also get that as my metabolism ages, so does my approach to breakfast cereal and my irrational love of breads.  

I don’t want to “PR” anymore, so I am willing to make changes.

I am currently 2 weeks in and I am back down where I was last year and I am planning on taking that elevator much, much lower by sticking with the plan. I don’t feel limited, nor do I crave the carbs on this keto cleanse, odd.

I probably have said that before, but I plan on making this challenge last way more than 30 days. Here are a few things you can eat and lose fat based on the high fat low carb approach mentioned above.

No Churn Keto Chocolate Ice Cream, Cheesecake, Keto Chocolate Chip Cookies, Avocado Brownies, Keto Tortilla Chips, Hummus Tahini, Ranch Dip, keto Strawberry Ice Cream.

Eating these foods make it easy to commit to staying the course. Let’s see how this goes from here.

To learn more, check out George's site is

Also, he has plenty of the science behind it there to back it all up:

Below are the links of Ph.D’s, MD’s and studies that validate this program. 
Dr. Eric Westman MD: Keto Made Simple
Dr Rhonda Patrick Ph.D with Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D
Listen to Mark Sisson, former endurance athlete, nutrition author and founder of Primal Kitchen Foods and best-selling author of The Keto Reset Diet. Wine, rice, snacks and much more.
In this link Mark Sisson discusses carb loading and how our body works to utilize carbs, protein and fat. “Fruit is not your friend”