Tag Archives: Nolan Smith

The 400-pound marathon runner. A disgusting pageant disqualification. And my Dukies, survive, barely

A couple of weight-related stories caught my eye this weekend, in between staring at the NCAA Tournament for 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday (ah, heaven).

First, my buddy Clay alerted me to the inspiring story of Kelly Gnieting, a 400-pound man whose dream was to become the heaviest man ever to run in, and finish, the Los Angeles Marathon.
Kneiting’s story, told here by the fantastic L.A. Times writer Kurt Streeter, is that of a man who knows he had let himself go, but still believed he was an athlete. He began training, and for the last two years has thought of little else.
Sunday, a 400-pound man finished the L.A. Marathon in 9 hours, 48 minutes, and 42 seconds.
Me, someone who desperately wants to run and complete a marathon one day, who right now can only run 2.5 miles or so at a time, is inspired by Kelly Gneiting. We are all capable of SO much if we try hard enough.
Bravo, Kelly. I’m proud of you.

**And then there was this story from last week, which isn’t quite as uplifting. A 17-year-old woman named Domonique Rodriguez is suing to get her crown as Miss San Antonio back, a title stripped from her because she was allegedly too heavy and didn’t look good enough in photographs.
If this really was why Rodriguez was stripped of the title, it’s remarkably disgusting behavior by the pageant. And it feeds into every stereotype about why beauty pageants in general are so wrong and unhealthy.
I hope she wins, and that the pageant people have to apologize to her in open court.

**Very, very scary game for me and the other Duke fans Sunday. The Blue Devils built a nice comfy lead in the second half of their NCAA Tournament game against Michigan, and then decided to just… stop… attacking. Duke’s offense was slower than Kelly Gneiting’s running (am I allowed to reference something in my own blog post?), and slowly Michigan caught up, until with three seconds left the Wolverines had a terrifyingly straightforward chance to tie the game and send it into overtime. Fortunately for my heart and for Duke, the shot missed, and the Blue Devils survived.
It was a bizarre last 10 minutes for Duke; the newly-healthy Kyrie Irving and best player Nolan Smith both seemed tentative, like each was waiting for the other to take over. Hope they get their act together by Thursday, because this Arizona team Duke plays next is seriously good.

Also, if you didn’t see this the other night, watch it now. A fantastic locker room celebration video from Butler coach Brad Stevens and his team after beating Pittsburgh in one of the best NCAA Tournament games you’ll see:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A football player answers all his fan mail, 3 years later. The best TV show endings ever. And an incredible day of college hoops

**Like I’m sure so many of you, I was touched by the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I really can’t fathom what an 8.9 earthquake must feel like. The pictures of the devastation are incredible; check them out here. Hoping and praying that those who can make it out of the devastation do so, alive.

Also don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour when you go to sleep tonight. Hey, we’re a full-service blog here at Wide World of Stuff.

So it’s official. As of midnight Friday night, the NFL has locked out its players. There may very well be no NFL games this fall. The owners are pissed at the players. The players are pissed at the owners. And most fans, I think, are like me: A pox on both their houses for killing this golden goose. Just shut up, get a deal done, and get football season going in September.
Still, I don’t want to be all doom and gloom-y about football today. Because I just read about one of the good guys in the NFL, Chris Cooley, and something cool he wrote about on his blog.
He went through box after box of his fan mail that had piled up. Like, 1,000 pieces of mail. And he answered each one. He also delivered some hilarious lines while doing so, like “I appreciate the invite to that wedding in July, 2008. I’m sure it was awesome!”

Go read it here if you want to laugh at least four times, out loud.


** My boy Pearlman wrote a nice little post on his blog about the best TV show series finales of all time. It’s a subject near and dear to my heart, because I get so emotionally attached to shows that I do get really sad at the end. I got weepy at the end of “The West Wing,” and the “Family Ties” ending gets me every time.

But for money, hands down, no doubt whatsoever the best ending was to the brilliant HBO show “Six Feet Under.” Six amazing minutes of television. Watch and enjoy.

**Finally, man oh man what an incredible day of college basketball it was Friday. UConn wins its fourth game in four days, in OT over Syracuse. Those damn Tar Heels from UNC rally from from 19 down to win on a buzzer-beater over Miami. Michigan State clinches a bid with a beatdown over Purdue. The Jimmer (Jimmer Fredette) scores 52 points for BYU. San Diego State gets a game-winning shot with 5 seconds left. My Dukies win, but Nolan Smith hurt his toe and who knows if he’ll play anymore this weekend.
What am I forgetting? Oh yeah, Louisville beats Notre Dame in OT.

Best conference tournament day I ever remember. And the NCAA Tournament doesn’t even start for six more days (play-in-games don’t count in my book.)

Duke escapes with a win over Carolina. And the senior citizens who make sure athletes go to class

Jesus that was intense.
A fantastic Duke-Carolina game was played at Cameron Indoor Stadium Wednesday night. Really, it was two games: The Tar Heels absolutely dominated the first half, killing Duke inside (Tyler Zeller was phenomenal, as was Plastic-Man John Henson, man that kid is athletic) and going up by 14 at the break.
Then, after I spent most of halftime bitching and moaning about the first half to my friend Tony (who was sky-high because his Georgetown Hoyas beat Syracuse Wednesday), Duke showed great heart and toughness coming back, and pulling away for a six-point win.
Bunch of quick-hit thoughts from the game:
— Carolina is going to be scary good. And soon. Kendall Marshall at the point, the big guys inside, and a whole lot of athleticism coming off the bench. I just don’t think the young Heels were ready to win a game like this.
— Seth Curry, we’ve been waiting. All Duke fans have been waiting for you to explode and show us why you were so hyped as a transfer two years ago. Tonight, you earned your place in Blue Devil lore.
— The Plumlee brothers are destined to frustrate Duke fans for their whole careers. How you guys played in the second half? Do that all the time!
— Nolan Smith, sensational tonite. Just fabulous. Carried Duke for long stretches. He and Jimmer are the Players of the Year.
— Harrison Barnes was rendered invisible by the Duke defense in the second half. Very disappointing effort for the big-time UNC freshman.
— Thought Cameron was as loud as its been in years tonight, and I was just watching on TV. A few others have said it was especially deafening, too. Great job, Crazies.
— What a rivalry. Such intensity. So many incredible games over the year. Every win over Carolina is special. They play again on March 5.
Can. Not. Wait.

**I love this story all kinds of a lot. For decades, college administrators have employed students on their campuses to “check up on” athletes to make sure they were going to class, doing their work, etc.
But Kansas University has taken that process to a whole new level. According to this story in the Wall Street Journal, the school has hired senior citizens to check on their stars.
The Grandmas and Grandpas must be quite a sight strolling around the Lawrence, Kans., campus, and I’m envisioning a septugenarian grabbing a teenager by the ears while muttering “You think you’re getting out of sociology class today, sonny? I don’t think so.”
There are some occupational hazards, one of the senior citizens said; he waited around for hours one time for a kid to show up, until he realized he had the wrong classroom.
Apparently, though, the practice is working; Kansas hasn’t had any players flunk off the basketball team lately.

VH1 gets pathetically over-nostalgic. Duke 1 win away! And a Passover Egg Hunt story

There are very few people in the world more nostalgic than I am.

I idealize my childhood. I idealize my college years. I wax poetic about a grilled cheese sandwich I ate in 1999. (Well, not really. But I lived in Wilmington, N.C. then and there was this awesome sandwich place called Priddyboys and they made kick-ass large grilled cheese sandwiches. But I digress).

Anyway, I love nostalgia, absolutely love it. Which is why a few years ago, I totally devoured all of the episodes of VH1’s “I Love the 80s” show. I watched as they happily recounted life when L.A. Gear was the cool sneaker, Cabbage Patch Kids the cool toy, and iron-on decal T-shirts were all the rage.

I even liked VH1’s “I Love the 90s” shows, even though those were nowhere near as cool and didn’t feature enough Mo Rocca or Michael Ian Black, the two snarky commentators from the 80s specials.

So, yeah, VH1 knows people my age love to look back at stuff. But my goodness, what I saw on VH1 Saturday as I flipped around made me so sad. Apparently the channel did a series in 2008 that they’re re-running now called “I love the New Millenium.”

Yep, they took a year by year look at the decade that just passed! Do they really think people are missing 2007 already? Talk about beating a dead horse. This is beating a dead horse, putting him outside the barn, then smacking him around for a few more hours.

Yeesh. Please, people of television, I know you’re desperate for ideas. But you have to be able to do better than this.

***Never in a hundred years would I have predicted the beatdown Duke gave West Virginia Saturday night in the Final Four. I’m almost afraid to talk too much about it, for fear of jinxing the Blue Devils for Monday night.

But man oh man, Duke dominated that game. I have said for weeks, nay, months to my college hoops friend Tony that as good as Duke has been this year, there have been very few games where Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer all played well offensively.

Saturday was one of those games. They were fantastic. Brian Zoubek, sensational. The defense? Fabulous. If Duke wins Monday, this’ll be by far the most unlikely championship they’ve won.

Couple other thoughts from the Final Four:

— Terrible to see West Virginia’s De’Sean Butler get hurt in the second half, with what looked like a serious knee injury. It looks like it’s just a sprain. And I have to admit Bob Huggins, a man I loathe, had a touching moment with Butler as he lay writhing on the court, cradling his player’s head and comforting him.

— Duke-Butler for the championship game. Who had that in the brackets?

— Very exciting, if not exactly well-played, Butler-Michigan State game in the other semi. What an amazing story Butler is, one game from a title as a mid-major school from a small conference. If they were playing anybody but Duke Monday night, I’d be pulling hard for them.

— Here’s something that probably means nothing but is fun to talk about: Both Duke’s best player and Butler’s best player are white. When’s the last time two white guys were the best players in the NCAA championship game? Gotta be at least 30 years ago, right?

— If Duke wins Monday (and I think it’ll be a good game, very close), Mike Krzyzewski will break a tie with his mentor, Bob Knight, for most national titles, with 4. That would be fantastic, and would likely drive Knight a little nuts.

**And finally, Happy Easter to all who celebrate it. That picture above is my own fond Easter memory. Back when I worked in N.C., my wonderful friends Brian Feagans and Diana D’Abruzzo realized that as a Jew, I never got to go on an Easter egg hunt as a kid. So Easter weekend one year they got a bunch of colored eggs, drew Jewish stars on them, and buried them around Brian and his wife Helena’s house.

They called me over, and for two hours we held the world’s first Passover Egg Hunt. That’s me with two of the treasures. It was awesome.

I love my friends.

And I miss all that hair I used to have.

An uplifting story of a stranger’s kindness. And Duke survives (barely)

A heartwarming story for your Saturday reading …

A man named Dan Coyne in Chicago had inquired about a cashier at the grocery store he shopped in. The cashier, Myra de la Vega, said she had been ill recently, having been diagnosed with renal failure and in need of a new kidney.

So Coyne offered his, and Friday, this man who only knew her from the grocery store donated his kidney to help save and preserve his life.

It’s a beautiful story of human unselfishness, and it’s just a small reminder of the miracles that happen every day in this world.

***Whew. Still a little drained from that Duke-Purdue game late Friday night. Absolutely brutal first half by my Blue Devils, but they got it together in the second half, shot MUCH better, and slowly pulled away.

Couple thing on this game: 1, This is absolutely a game Duke would’ve lost the last few years. This year’s team is tougher and bigger. 2, Jon Scheyer still couldn’t hit an outside shot, but he found a way to score, driving and willing his way to the basket. Loved Nolan Smith in the second half, and Kyle Singler the whole game.

Still, an atrocious first half. And Baylor looked really, really good in the first game. Duke-Baylor Sunday at 5 p.m. Commence worrying now.

Also, how good is Michigan State? Tremendous win for them over the last Cinderella left in the tournament, Northern Iowa.

“Parenthood” was great. Duke-Carolina tonight? Greater. And a despicable lawyer in Texas

So at first I was prepared to like the new NBC show “Parenthood” when I first heard about it. Peter Krause, who was in two of my favorite shows of the decade (“Six Feet Under” and the criminally unloved and cancelled “Dirty Sexy Money.”) was going to be in it. And Lauren Graham, who I loved loved LOVED in “Gilmore Girls.,” was in it too.

But then NBC ran the promos for “Parenthood” about every five seconds  during the Olympics, so often that I wanted to throw something at my TV and scream “Enough already! You’re making me hate the show!”

But I didn’t throw anything at the TV, mainly because it’s a beautiful flat-screen that I love nearly as much as my wife.

So I figured even though NBC annoyed me with the relentless promo, I’d give “Parenthood” a shot this week. It was pretty great.

Yeah, I’ve been sucked in before by shows whose pilots were great but then went downhill, fast. So I’m cautiously optimistic.

But I really liked it. The writing was sharp, the acting was great, the huge cast confused me at times (wait, who’s related to who again?) but I’m sure that’ll sort itself out soon enough. It’s on my automatic DVR list now, and please, NBC, no more promos!

**So, yeah, Duke-Carolina Part II is tonight. Looking forward to this one almost as much as the first game between them this year, won by Duke, in case you forgot. Yeah, I know the Heels have actually won two straight (hey, a winning streak, congrats UNC!) and Duke is coming off a tough loss at Maryland last week, but no matter: This will be a royal beatdown.

Do you realize it’s been FIVE YEARS since the Blue Devils have beaten Carolina in Cameron? That’s disgusting, and must end. I see Nolan Smith blowing by Larry Drew, Kyle Singler raining threes on Will Graves, and Jon Scheyer going out in style on Senior Night.

I want Roy Williams screaming at his own players tonight. I want Coach K waving his arms furiously for more noise. I want Crazy Towel Guy at full strength. I want a tsunami of noise, and I want the Heels leaving with a loss.

Duke by 15 tonight. Please. Enough losing to the powder blues at Cameron.

**Finally, a lovely little story about an absolute prince of a guy. William Ogletree, a Texas attorney, was at an airport in Houston last Dec. 30 when he stopped at the food court for a meal. While there, he left his $800 black leather coat behind, accidentally, and the coat vanished.

Now Ogletree is threatening to sue the airport, the airline, and the food court owners because they (get this) failed to have “collected the coat, kept it in a secure place and held it for a reasonable time” until he was able to reunite with the garment.

Are you FREAKING kidding me, pal? You lose your expensive coat and it’s the restaurant’s fault, or the airline’s fault? How unbelievably pathetic. With all the money you’ll be spending on a lawsuit, here’s an idea:

Save that money and buy another coat!

Just blows my mind that this guy is going to sue someone else because of his mistake.

Come to think of it, do you have any idea how wealthy I’d be if I sued every time I lost a piece of clothing at a store? Baby, I’d be living in a mansion right now!

Interviewing crying people, the world’s most vain criminal, and a little Duke basketball

So in my continuing quest to share with you what it’s like to be a sportswriter, I give you this: Saturday afternoon, after a regional final volleyball match, I spent 5-10 minutes waiting for teenage girls to stop crying. So I could interview them.

It’s one of those parts of sportswriting that no one ever teaches you, but as long as you cover high school girls sports, it’s going to be an issue. There’s no one way to dealing with it; you try to be a sensitive human and a good reporter at the same time.

I wrote a whole post about what it’s like dealing with this awkward situation last February on my News-Journal blog, so instead of re-hashing the whole thing, I’d ask you to please click here for my take.

**So, from the annals of “Really, really stupid criminals,” I give you this week’s grand champion, Matt Maynard of Swansy, England.

Seems Mr. Maynard, wanted by police on a burglary charge, didn’t like the mugshot police supplied to the local newspaper. Wasn’t flattering to him, apparently.

So Maynard took a photo of himself (the one on the right, above), in front of a police van, no less, and sent the South Wales Evening Post a different photo. Isn’t he just so helpful?

Maynard was, of course, soon caught. The fool.

This reminds me of the old Seinfeld bit where he talks about the “Most Wanted” posters at the post office. He wonders, “Why don’t they just hold on to this guy while they’re taking his picture?”

**Finally, a few words, the first of the season, on my Duke basketball boys. Got to see them play for the first time tonight, and I was very excited. Yeah, they beat UNC-Charlotte (I know they’re called “Charlotte” now, but it sounds weird to me), not exactly a power, but good things happened all over the place.

Nolan Smith finally played like the guy I’ve seen spurts of the past two years. Kyle Singler looks like a totally different guy, slimmed down and ready to play the 2 guard all year (though I wonder if he’ll be quick enough to stop the really good shooting guards in the ACC). Miles Plumlee looks to have improved 1,000 percent from last year.

This is going to be an odd Duke team. My whole life, they’ve had at least two or three great perimeter guys. Now, they’re a bunch of giants and just a couple of quick guards. It’ll be great in some ways, not so good in others, I’m sure.

But still, a good start.

I’m so happy college basketball season is here. And I’ll be even happier when the Tar Heels of UNC lose their first game.