Talkin’ NBA Playoffs with Big E & My Feature on the Obese Pro Athlete — fat or fit?

Happy Monday all,

Last week I went on the Big E Sports Show — streamed by Yahoo Sports Radio as well as Sirius Satellite Radio all over the United States — to talk about the NBA playoff picture and coaching carousel. A fun and lively segment, as always.

You can listen to the podcast streaming here:

On another note, a rather meaty feature I wrote for CNN World Sports ran today. The topic: Overweight pro athletes competing at the highest level. Can they do it? How do they do it? Why do they do it? Do fad diets work? What are the pros/cons of dumping carbs altogether (as many top athletes are doing today)?

I weigh in on these topics by asking the experts — including Adebayo “The Beast” Akinfenwa of FC Wimbledon, and South African Rugby international Ollie le Roux (who weighed over 300 pounds in his heyday).

Here’s the intro, and a link to the complete article is at the bottom of the page:

Fat or fit? These ‘obese’ athletes are proud of their extra pounds

By Motez Bishara, CNN

(CNN) For a brief 10-minute spell at LA’s Staples Center earlier this month, one imposing NBA player got busy throwing his weight around — literally.

The man known as “Big Baby” — all 206 centimeters and 131 kilograms of him — contorted his body to sink improbable layups, dive for loose balls, rebound, block shots and turn into an all-around disruptive force for the Clippers in a win-or-go-home victory over the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

A week later at Tropicana Field in Tampa, a 201 cm, 138 kg behemoth named C.C. Sabathia struck out nine batters in seven innings to clinch a win for the league-leading New York Yankees. The pitcher’s protruding belly shook like a washing machine on fast spin after each pitch.

In an era where top athletes obsess over body fat and favor kale smoothies over traditional pregame pasta, Sabathia and Glen “Big Baby” Davis are two of a handful of professional athletes thriving in spite of their girth.

“People look down on them, because they say they shouldn’t be out there,” Ollie le Roux, a former South Africa rugby international, told CNN. “But the nice thing about the big guy, the fat guy, the guy that doesn’t look athletic, is that when he runs over the little guy that looks like a superstar, it makes it more human.”

“It’s amazing to watch guys like Michael Jordan as well, but you don’t relate to them on a physical level like you do the overweight guy,” adds le Roux, who tipped the scales at 137 kilograms during the 1999 Rugby World Cup.


Baseball and male nudity. A nightmare to many.  (PHOTO: ESPN The Magazine/Body Issue)

Baseball and extreme male nudity. A nightmare to many.
(PHOTO: ESPN The Magazine/Body Issue)

West Ham Vs Chelsea… Opportunity to test out a new anti-thuggery app!

Just kidding! Or not really…

Yesterday I went to Upton Park, West Ham’s fabled grounds opened in 1904 and soon to be cast aside for the Olympic Stadium. I expected something akin to Fenway Park, Boston’s antique and incredibly charming baseball stadium, the smallest in the Major Leagues.

It was charming, but not in a Fenway Park way. More in a rundown left to rot kind of way. Furthermore, I expected a frantic ambiance, with fans chanting for 90 mins straight as a backdrop to the scent of fan violence that could break out at any moment.

Out of sheer coincidence. just that day my article for CNN was published about a new mobile phone app created by Kick It Out. It encourages fans to report abuse by other fans; a kind of virtual vigilante application. The recent culprits named in the article happened to be both West Ham and Chelsea supporters!  

This is what happens when you’ve seen the movie Green Street Hooligans (named after the street adjoined to the Boleyn Ground — the official name for Upton Park) too many times. The entire film, an unlikely tale of a Harvard kid who gets mixed up in a West Ham gang can be watched free on HD here. Here’s the trailer:

But enough about films! The game itself was end to end stuff, very exciting. Too bad West Ham can’t score to save their lives, otherwise Chelsea would have left the park as losers. Instead, the Hammers gave up a goal early and missed a ton of chances.

Some geezers put up this well edited HD video taken from the stands. You can hear tons of cursing, chanting of the Hammers theme song “Forever Blowing Bubbles” and lots of bad West Ham football:

Some photos from the grounds:

West 'Am United. True to it's East End roots

West ‘Am United. True to it’s East End roots

A small burial site just outside the stadium (by the car park?!) for Hammers die-hards, no pun intended.

A small burial site just outside the stadium (by the car park?!) for Hammers die-hards, no pun intended.

With the legendary Dave Dove, a Hammers fan who's been attending Upton Park since 1958!!

With the legendary Dave Dove, a Hammers fan who’s been attending Upton Park since 1958!!

We left in a very orderly fashion, waited for about 25 minutes on a very long line snaking around Upton Park tube station, and went home without incident. Alas, the app was never used.

The CNN story can be found on this link.

Motez Bishara previews the USA – Portugal World Cup match, and reflects on the Spurs NBA championship on Yahoo Sports Radio

Greetings all!

The Big E Sports Show had me on this week to preview Team USA’s chances against Portugal Sunday night, and wrap up the San Antonio Spurs’ convincing victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

The interview stream is available here: 

It’s always a pleasure to be interviewed by Elissa Walker Campbell, who has a super interesting past herself. She played college basketball for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, and is the daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame star Charlie Walker.

Her weekly show, featured on Yahoo Sports Radio and syndicated across America, features many current and former pro-sports coaches and players (like Ken Griffey), as well as other prominent sports reporters. She recently interviewed legendary New York Times writer George Vescey, who just released the book Eight World Cups: My Journey through the Beauty and Dark Side of SoccerIt’s a terrific interview, and I’m thrilled to be a contemporary of someone of his stature.

But back to the World Cup: Who would have bet that after two matches, Costa Rica would head the group that includes Italy, England and Uruguay? Hold on to your seats, I think think there are more surprises to come.

C’mon Team USA!!

America, f- yeah!

America, f- yeah!



Qatar’s World Cup rigged, but what about Russia’s?

By now everyone knows that Qatar won the right to host the World Cup in 2022. Everyone knows, however, for all the wrong reasons.

I think I'll go shopping today...I hear there's a fire sale on World Cups!

I think I’ll go shopping today…I hear there’s a fire sale on World Cups!

The messiness that engulfs Qatar’s bid has been littering the news lately. First the unbearable summertime weather was red flagged (an Ecuadorian footballer died in the Qatari league last July). Next, a slew of modern-day slavery charges were made. Meanwhile, bribery accusations are not going away, while the momentum for a re-vote gains traction daily. In fact, the media blitz in the UK is so constant that until two days ago my girlfriend mistakenly thought Qatar was hosting this World Cup (she is not much of a sports fan, clearly).

The Qatar games are actually eight years away, yet it appears impossible that the 2022 World Cup will follow its original blueprint. Something’s bound to give.

But ask any random passer by who’s hosting the next World Cup – the one taking place in just four years — and you’re likely to be met with blank stares (an Australian friend who does follow football guessed South Africa; a terrible guess as they just hosted the last one).

It seems odd that the casual fan doesn’t realize Russia is hosting straight after Brazil, since the ammo to bombard its games with negative press is as loaded as Qatar’s.

You want graft and corruption? Russia’s recent Sochi Winter Olympics were branded by The New Yorker as “the greatest financial boondoggle in the history of the Games,” citing embezzlement in construction as reasons why its budget ran from $12 billion up to an unheard of $50 billion.

Corruption is so prevalent in seemingly every major global tournament now that even Fifa’s 96-year-old honorary president, a Brazilian, was thrown out for taking kickbacks last year. Accusations, it would appear, are pointless.

“International sports couldn’t even exist without bribery,” said veteran sports journalist Michael Wilbon on ESPN. “And this started with the Olympic movement. That’s why they had all those reforms, none of which [stuck].  So I’ve always assumed there was some bribery. Why would the World Cup be any different from the Olympics?”

His colleague Tony Kornheiser was equally blasé about the Qatar allegations, dismissing the notion of recasting the vote: “In terms of bribery, the entire world other than [the US] and about five other countries bribes everybody all the time. I’m not going to throw them out because of bribery.”

Bribery, check. Onto human rights abuses. The exposés on Qatar’s migrant worker deaths, alongside the news of a French footballer who was denied the right to leave for two years, have added fuel to the fire that Qatar is an unfit potential host.

Yet not a peep has been mentioned about the Russian Federation’s recent annexation of a big slab of Ukraine, or the constant jailing of opposition leaders, not to mention the two year imprisonment of the punk band Pussy Riot.

And in terms of football fandom, Russians have a much darker stain on their hands than Qataris: a pattern of racist behavior. Last October, Manchester City’s captain Yaya Toure’ was subjected to monkey chants from the stands at CSKA Moscow. Rather than suspend the guilty parties, the top CSKA official amazingly claimed the accusation was a “smear campaign” against Russian football.

So while Labour MPs and corporate sponsors are calling for a re-vote to the Qatar games, not one suggestion has been made to do the same for Russia’s winning bid. This, despite a laundry list of viable reasons. One wonders whether the Kremlin is nervous about Qatar’s growing stink pile wafting towards its own games, or whether it’s basking in the deflected attention it’s enjoyed thus far.

Pickpocketed in Barcelona: Arsenal at FC Barcelona roundup

10 vs. 11. I´m too mad to come up with something witty.


I woke up this morning wondering what had happened last night. And then I remembered, we wuz robbed. Badly. A joke of a referee’s decision to give Robin Van Persie his second yellow card for shooting the ball a split second after the whistle blew (allegedly wasting time). Fans traveled from all over the world to watch a fair match (I met a Barca fan who flew in from DC for the night). With two of the most fluid passing teams in football pitted against each other there was great anticipation. Instead we got a Barcelona team beating an undermanned Arsenal team. Wins like this are what asterisks were made for. Yes Barca dominated possession, and yes they were far superior for nearly the entire match, but the fact remains that when RVP was shown out the door, they still needed to score against us. If it weren’t for a Cesc Fabregas mistake at the end of the first half, they’d have been goalless up to that point. (Do I sound a tad delusional? Trust me, it was toe to toe.) Read more of this post

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