June 19th, 2011

From my appearance on Paul Flannery’s “Talking Hoops” podcast for WEEI, Boston. Doing these things with people you know, especially when they’re for an institutional outlet, can be really weird. Anyway, those mileposts are pretty representative. Though there’s a good chance that “Chauncey Billups” actually refers to Chris Ryan.

June 18th, 2011
For most NBA fans, Dirk is neither white, nor specifically German, but the guy who finally asserted the value of the European Other. Luke O’Brien’s piece stresses that Nowitzki has made us accept him, albeit only after realizing that neither Don Nelson (the libertine) nor Avery Johnson (the taskmaster) had used him correctly thus far. Only Dirk could perfect Dirk, and if his off-season of wandering and thinking sounds straight out of Herzog—a slightly loopier version of the kind of masculinity post-war Germany learned to project—it was Rick Carlisle, as much as this introspection, that allowed Dirk to find himself. The Triumph of Soft is not about making people learn to love Germans, but fitting Germany into a larger, maligned sports category, and then turning that on its head.
From my latest “Three Seconds” column at SportsFeat.
June 13th, 2011

At GQ.com: Congratulations, Mavericks. What does it all mean?

With last night’s win, the Mavs become the sixteenth NBA franchise, accounting for relocation, to win a title. It’s a select club, to be sure, but the Mavs aren’t the Lakers or Celtics, or Pistons, or the Rockets, or even the Hawks, who made the Finals four times between 1957 and 1961, and took it all in 1958. They are one of the seven teams with only one championship to their name. Franchises that have never hoisted the banner can still be perfectly respectable, and some fairly miserable teams have one seemingly random title to their name. The real question to ask, then, is what kind of championship was this, anyway?

This transmission marks the end of my GQ playoffs blog. It’s been real.

June 9th, 2011
Dirk Nowitzki: A Simple Chair, ROLUvia rolustudio.comDirk has never been the biggest fan of furniture, but he would probably  relate to the austere, but vibrant, qualities of this chair. We also  want to imagine him sleeping in this chair as well, with a nighttime  routine that consists of him merely sitting down and closing his eyes.(more at GQ.com, from Kyle Garner of Sit and Read and Justin Sullivan. Thanks for ruining my Eames for me!)

Dirk Nowitzki: A Simple Chair, ROLU
via rolustudio.com
Dirk has never been the biggest fan of furniture, but he would probably relate to the austere, but vibrant, qualities of this chair. We also want to imagine him sleeping in this chair as well, with a nighttime routine that consists of him merely sitting down and closing his eyes.

(more at GQ.com, from Kyle Garner of Sit and Read and Justin Sullivan. Thanks for ruining my Eames for me!)

June 8th, 2011
For GQ.com: How LeBron can learn from Dirk, and we can learn from that:LeBron isn’t Dwyane Wade; he doesn’t attack like Wade, and isn’t nearly as  harrowing off the dribble. Wade’s been given the role of closer because  it makes sense, and yet somehow, that casts doubt on everything we want  to believe—and feel in our gut—about James. Wade is in the mold of  Jordan, both in personality and game. To crib the easy analogy, that  makes LeBron into Scottie Pippen. Some people simply can’t accept that  the Pippen-esque marvel could be better than the Jordan-ish guard, since  Jordan is the greatest, and Jordan-esque equals best.I really should have included a sentence about “hard” and “soft” expectations. Oh well. Imagine it in there yourself, if you find this post lacking.

For GQ.com: How LeBron can learn from Dirk, and we can learn from that:

LeBron isn’t Dwyane Wade; he doesn’t attack like Wade, and isn’t nearly as harrowing off the dribble. Wade’s been given the role of closer because it makes sense, and yet somehow, that casts doubt on everything we want to believe—and feel in our gut—about James. Wade is in the mold of Jordan, both in personality and game. To crib the easy analogy, that makes LeBron into Scottie Pippen. Some people simply can’t accept that the Pippen-esque marvel could be better than the Jordan-ish guard, since Jordan is the greatest, and Jordan-esque equals best.

I really should have included a sentence about “hard” and “soft” expectations. Oh well. Imagine it in there yourself, if you find this post lacking.

May 27th, 2011

I DID NOT CALL LARRY BIRD A NAZI!

In this week’s SportsFeat column, I marvel at the internal contradictions of the Bird/Dirk comparisons, then say some stuff about German identity. Though @thatkidiacrus may be right—hard to say that Serbs don’t have as much, if not more, to work through. And they are all over the NBA, being called soft.

May 24th, 2011

Today at GQ.com, Pete Beatty, aka @nocoastoffense, aka the guy who wrote that Pitchers and Poets essay on Jim Thome and ruin porn, turns his watchful eye toward Dirk Nowitzki.

Dirk’s workmanlike stardom has been outshone by lots of things over the course of his career: just this month for example, Russell Westbrook’s glasses, James Harden’s beard, Rondo’s elbow, Tractor Traylor and Macho Man dying too young. If the Mavs reach the finals, Udonis Haslem’s (fictional) sleep apnea might get more headlines than Dirk carrying the Mavs offense for a twelfth consecutive season.

Is there anything wrong with just being a worker? The awkward juxtaposition of competition and for-profit entertainment leaves pro (and big-time college) sports in America somewhere between pro wrestling and a soap opera—it’s rare that a player can captivate the public just by showing up, doing his or her job extraordinarily well, and going home.


Many athletes have been called boring over the years, but none quite like this.

May 19th, 2011
The Dirk/RAF call was answered by many, but @muziejus got to me first. If this upsets you, take it up with me when I get back from the zoo in four hours.

The Dirk/RAF call was answered by many, but @muziejus got to me first. If this upsets you, take it up with me when I get back from the zoo in four hours.

May 19th, 2011
Please someone Photoshop this so it says DIRK in the middle? I know, wrong Germany, and people died, but it’s late and no one’s looking.

Please someone Photoshop this so it says DIRK in the middle? I know, wrong Germany, and people died, but it’s late and no one’s looking.

May 17th, 2011
I would also remind you that the greatest German player ever is the favorite player of the greatest Jewish player ever.
Marc Tracy, referencing this Tablet interview with Dolph Schayes.