Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Basketball Rules

There are a few different rules in European basketball that are different from American basketball. One rule that I would love for America to adopt is the flopping rule. I hate when players flop or act when they try to draw a charge or a foul. We were pretty big on trying to draw charges when I played for Marquette. If a player avoided or didn't try and draw a charge in practice, then the whole team was put on the line and we had to run. I remember trying to draw a charge during a game my Junior year at Marquette. The ref just looked down at me as I was lying on the floor and he said, "Seriously Grimm? Get up, you are twice his size."If this were to happen in Europe then I would have been issued a technical foul. The other team would have been awarded 2 free throws and the ball.

Greg Paulus should have received a technical and had his man card revoked.

Another rule I would love to see adopted is the goal tending rule. This rule would allow the offense to tip the ball in while it is still in the cylinder as well as the defense to knock the ball off the rim while it is still in the cylinder. I think this makes the game pretty exciting as it could lead to displays of exceptional athleticism with exciting tip dunks. I haven't really adjusted to this rule because it has always been in my head to not touch the ball while it is on the rim. The adoption of this rule would also lead to more uniformity in the global game of basketball.

One rule that I don't like is the unsportsmanlike foul on a fast break. When a player has a clear path to the basket, the defender is not allowed to touch him. So, even if you try to go for a clean swipe or a clean block and you happen to foul him, you are whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul. The foul gives the offensive player 2 shots and the ball back. Another reason I don't like the rule is because so much is left to the referee. One ref sees the rule one way and another ref sees it another way. I think American referees enforce our rule pretty well. We know what is an intentional foul and what is not.

Traveling is also a HUGE issue for Americans in Europe. Players fresh out of college tend to get whistled for traveling a lot during their first year. It seems that European fans of basketball think that all Americans travel with the ball. The frustrating part about the rule is that it is enforced differently in every country and sometimes with different referees. For example, I have seen in some countries that a player has to almost slap the ball down to the court when on a fast break instead of grabbing it with 2 hands and then putting it down. I was whistled once in Switzerland because I drove with my right hand and crossed over with my left foot. Another referee came up to me and told me it was a good move but the ref that issued the call was used to working in Italy and that it is always a travel in Italy. Being big is also an issue when it comes to traveling. If you look too big to make a good move, then the ref will almost always issue a travel. Very frustrating!

Traveling pretty much anywhere in world except Cameron Indoor.

Also, players can't call timeout in Europe. Only the coach can call timeout and only in a deadball situation. I am a little embarrassed to admit that it took me 2 years to learn this rule. I would always wonder why there were such long stretches with no timeouts during my first year.

I can go on and on about different rules but I won't go any further. With basketball being a truly global game, I think the rules need to be uniform across the board. This would help us Americans in global competition so we don't have to sweat out as many games in the Olympics or World Championships.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sights Around Skopje

Since the blog post about the Kumanovo game, some people might have a negative view of Macedonia. My wife and I really like living in Macedonia and living in the capital city of Skopje. I wanted to share some pictures I took around the city the other day to show how neat it is. I know a lot of people back at home know nothing about the country or city so I will offer some explanations and fun facts.

In the center of the square in downtown Skopje is a statue of Alexander the Great or more accurately "Warrior on a Horse" as it is officially called. There is actually a little bit of controversy surrounding the statue. There is a lot of tension between Greece and Macedonia which would take a long time to write about and understand. Basically Greece claims that the name Macedonia belongs to them because it is one of their northern provinces. They have even blocked Macedonia's entrance into the EU and NATO because of their differences. Obviously there is a lot more to it than that but this is a blog and not a complete history lesson. Anyways, Greece claims Alexander the Great as a Greek and not Macedonian so they view the statue as a slap in the face. I hope I got that right but that was how it was all explained to me.

There are many other statues in the downtown square. I can't tell you who any of them are but I can tell you that there a lot of men riding on horses. If I ever have a statue of me, then I want it to be me on a horse because I think it looks awesome.

The Vardar River runs through the center of the town and this stone bridge connects the square to the old town. The bridge is actually a symbol of the town as it is seen on the coat of arms of the city. Just below the bridge there is a statue of 2 women diving into the water and if you look hard enough you can see them. I thought it was pretty neat!

Did you know that Mother Theresa is from Skopje, Macedonia? This is the Mother Theresa Memorial House. It was built where the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church once was and was the church that Mother Theresa was baptized in. If you look closely you can see 2 of my teammates in the picture as well.

There are many other great things to see and do around Skopje and the downtown area is very pleasant. Coffee shops and restaurants are plentiful in the square and I have spent a few afternoons sipping coffee there. Mountains surround the city and atop one of the mountains is the Millenium Cross. From the Cross you can see the whole city. There is also an old castle in the city called the Kale Fortress. I actually don't have any pictures to show of the cross or the castle but hopefully I will get them soon.




Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Haunting

I know Halloween is over but I found something pretty scary on Macedonian television the other night. I was channel surfing with my wife after our game and came across the Wisconsin Badger football game on Macedonian television. The Badgers haunt me from 5,000 miles away.

Our television.

Living in Wisconsin during football season is pretty terrible for me. Every Saturday I have to deal with everyone wearing Badger gear and every Sunday I have to deal with the green and yellow Packer gear in church. It is like I am living in a nightmare.

Of course I am only half joking. I have a lot of friends who went to Wisconsin and my in laws are big Wisconsin football fans. My in laws have also been Marquette Basketball season ticket holders since the early 70's so I think that outweighs the Badger love.

My father in law is the Badger fan in the middle at the Michigan State game this year. I can't remember who won though?

I just can't get down with the Packers though. I have always not liked them. I just don't understand how people think the colors green and yellow look good together. My wife is a huge fan as well as the general manager of my team here. Unfortunately I can't talk a lot of smack being a lifelong Lions fan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Culture Shock

In my 6 years of playing professional basketball, each season brings new experiences and surprises. My travels have taken me to 19 different countries and there has been something surprising in everyone I have been too. I can remember asking for ranch dressing at a restaurant in Lugano, Switzerland during my first year. The look on the waitress' face was priceless as she just stared back at me. I can also remember my disappoint my first year when I couldn't find Lucky Charms in the cereal aisle. I didn't know if I would be able to survive without marshmallows in my milk. Also, most shocking of all, no Mountain Dew in Europe.

I learned to bring my own ranch dressing and of course I eventually got used to no marshmallows in my cereal. I still haven't gotten used to the no Mountain Dew. Those little things are nothing compared to the culture shock I have had here in Macedonia though. I am not saying it is bad, I am just saying that it is different.

The language is probably the biggest culture shock in any country that I have been too. I can study a language all I want but when I get around native speakers it is completely different. In my other travels I have been to countries with Latin based languages and my years of studying Spanish helped me understand a few things here and there. I have also made it a point to take classes or learn the language where I am so I can communicate at the store or with the fans. Last year I became pretty good with French and the year before with Italian. Here in Macedonia, they speak Macedonian which is a south Slavic language. It just sounds like white noise to me when I hear people talk. I understand absolutely nothing and that makes it really hard to tell a cab driver who doesn't speak English where I need to go. It is also impossible to read because they use the Cyrillic alphabet. Thankfully a lot of the people here in Skopje speak English.

There are a ton of stray dogs here in Macedonia. When the city catches a stray, they don't put it down but instead have the dog spayed or neutered so it can't reproduce. You can tell the dogs that are fixed because they have a yellow tag on their ears. I guess that's a good policy but it is really difficult for me to see all of these random dogs. The Grimm family always had a dog when I was growing up and we even had three dogs at one point so dogs hold a big place in my heart. My teammate and I were walking home one night and we actually had three dogs follow us home. It broke my heart when we had to shut the door on them when they were just sitting there wagging their tails.

Another thing that tugs at me is the people that are constantly picking through the trash. I can't take a short walk without seeing at least one person going through the trash. It is just tragic to see so many people doing it. I don't really want to say more on this subject.

Apparently a horse and cart are still an acceptable means of transportation here in Macedonia. This was the most surprising thing I have seen here. The Amish are the only people I have seen driving a horse and a cart back at home. I think it is even more surprising because of how urban Skopje is. This is the capital city of Macedonia and there are people riding horses around it. I asked my teammate what it was all about and he said that is just how it is here in the Balkans. So, I guess it is not just unique to Macedonia.

These are just a few of the things that I have encountered in my time here in Macedonia. I'm sure I will see more things on my travels and I will just learn to live with them.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Craziness

I would say that I have had an uneventful basketball career and by that I mean that nothing crazy has happened to me in games. Yes, I have had a lot of personal and team success but nothing that makes a really good story. That was until last night.

We had been preparing all week long for our game against Kumanovo. It was a big game for them and for us as well. Kumanovo is celebrating their 65th year of having a basketball team and they picked our game for their big festivities. Their gym is big and holds 5,000 people but they wanted all of the room in their gym for their fans and banned the Family Aerodrom (our fans) from the sport hall. That was a little hard to believe too because our fans have not been banned from our other away games and just add to the great atmosphere at the games.

When our team bus pulled into town we had to stop at a police check point. I don't know the exact reason but I suspect it was because they didn't want any of our fans sneaking into the town. I have never had that happen to me before but I thought it was kind of cool. It just showed how important of a game it was.

The gym itself was old and for lack of a better word, crappy. There were holes in the walls, the chairs in the locker room were all broken into pieces and there was standing water in the bathroom that smelled terrible. I guess these things mean nothing to the fans because the gym was loud and packed.

I got dressed pretty quickly because I wanted to get out onto the court and get a feel for the rims. As I was walking out of the locker room one of the team vets stopped me and told me not to go out yet because I would get things thrown at me. I had to wait for the whole team to be ready so we could go out together.

We left the locker room after Coach's pre game speech and headed out onto the court to some of the loudest boos I have ever heard. It wasn't just boos either. Old men were spitting at us and little kids were flipping us the bird. The crowd also broke out into some pretty raunchy chants. My teammates told me they were just singing some fun songs when I asked them but after the game they told me what they were really saying. I don't know they age demographic of my readers so I won't put them on here but I would be afraid to tell my mother what they were saying.

We were ahead the whole game but the fireworks really started after halftime. The Kumanovo fans decided to give us a confetti shower while we were warming up after the break. It took awhile for the 2nd half to start because as soon as the custodial staff cleaned it up, the fans would throw more on the court. It was very frustrating because we just wanted for the half to start.

With 1:56 left in the 3rd quarter, a lighter was thrown from the stands and landed at my feet as we lined up at the free throw line and then the show started. The refs told both teams to return to their benches as they met at the scorers table. Macedonian rules states that if the game is delayed 2 times by the fans then the fans have 10 minutes to evacuate the building and the game will resume with no fans. If they fail to leave then the game is played the next day with no fans in the gym. We know this rule quite well because it happened to us once already this season at home.

The official at the scorers table packed his things up and returned to the locker room. The fans did not appreciate this gesture and pelted him with various objects as he was escorted out by security. The security guards also instructed us to return to our bench as things began to be thrown our way. We had a covered bench like the ones you see at soccer games. The security guards also surrounded our bench so we were not attacked by the fans. One of my teammates stood up briefly and an 8 inch piece of wood was thrown at his head and narrowly missed him. Things were getting really crazy.

We just assumed the game would be resumed the next day because the fans were obviously not leaving the stands. Amazingly the official came back out and ruled that only the 1st three rows of the stands had to be vacated and the game would be resumed. I guess this was not according to the rule book but I was happy that we would be playing again. We had 5 minutes to warm up and we would start the game with 1:56 left in the 3rd quarter after a 35 minute break. As we were warming up about 5 fans were flipping me the bird and kept calling for me to come over. I just averted my eyes and kept doing my thing.

We came out after the break and Kumanovo didn't score the rest of the quarter and we led by 11. The game was hot all the way to the end and we wound up winning 88-81. With about 3 seconds left in the game the fans started throwing more stuff on the court including full bottles of water, coins and lighters (a lot of people smoke here.) We were so hyped we won but left the court with our jerseys over our heads to avoid getting hit by anything big. The locker room was pretty rowdy after the game. We were high fiving and screaming. Our coach even handed out a few high fives which he never does so it must mean he was pretty happy.

I wanted to get out of Kumanovo after the game and return home to my wife. There was just one problem though, apparently there was a threat on the team after the game and we couldn't leave the locker room area without a police escort. I thought we were in the clear once we were on the bus but I was wrong about that too. Coach told us to pull the window shades and move to the inside seat of the bus. Apparently, the fans planned to attack the bus with rocks on our way out of town and he didn't want us hurt or cut if the windows were busted open. We had another police escort and thankfully nothing happened to us.

We had a team pizza dinner once we got back into Skopje which was very fun. Unfortunately it made Liz very nervous. She saw that there was a long delay in the game and was scared about that and when I didn't return right away she was scared something happened to us. I received a long hug once I walked into the door.




Monday, October 17, 2011

Skopje, Macedonia



I have some exciting and important news as you all eagerly await Very Bad Trip Part II. I have signed a contract to play in Skopje, Macedonia for the 2011-2012 season. The whole process moved very quickly but I am here playing for MZT Skopje and have already played my first regular season game. It was a little bit of a process getting here so here is the story.

Last Sunday, October 9 I received an e mail from my agent saying that I had an offer from a team in Macedonia. It kind of took me by surprise because I didn't even know I was being shopped around in that part of the world. In fact, I had to look at a map to find out where Macedonia was. I remember learning about the area in Western Civilization but that was as far as my knowledge went.

I am married and of course I have to discuss the situation with my wife before accepting any job. Liz knew as much as myself on Macedonia which was basically nothing. We went around and around but the team needed to know that night and we came to the conclusion that we couldn't accept the job. We just didn't know enough about the situation to accept it and were comfortable turning down the job for this reason and I thought that was the last of it.

I had an e mail from my agent the next afternoon saying the team really wanted me and they had offered more provisions for my wife and me in the contract. They even said that I could come and check out the situation and if I didn't like it then I could return home. This seemed great to me but I still had to talk it over with Liz. After discussing everything with her, we both felt comfortable accepting the job and making the journey to Macedonia.
The team symbol.

Things have been great so far and I really like the country and the city of Skopje. It is unlike every other European city I have been in because it is Eastern Europe and I have spent my whole career in Western Europe. That being said, I think it is great. The city is surrounded by mountains which remind me a lot of the mountains in Lugano. There are even snow capped mountains far off in the distance.

The management and the team have also shown to be great. The club has very high aspirations of winning the league and are actually one of the league favorites. For those that don't know, basketball is HUGE in Macedonia. The national team finished 4th in the European Championships this year which has raised the level a lot. We even have a current and former national team players on MZT Skopje.

So, here I sit in an apartment in Macedonia writing out this blog. This game of basketball has taken me so many places in this world and now it has taken me to Macedonia. I never thought that I would live in or even visit Macedonia but here I am. I am so thankful to be back on the court after missing half of last season due to an injury and fortunate to get paid doing something that I love.

Here is to a championship season for MZT Skopje!!!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Very Bad Trip Part I

Very Bad Trip is what the Hangover is called in France. I love this movie and would love to write a blog about it but I just can't do it though with what recently happened in my life. Fortunately, Very Bad Trip describes my trip to Austria and gives me a reason to show the French movie poster from the Hangover.


Last Saturday I received a Facebook message from an agent telling me he had a job for me. This actually isn't a rare occurrence. I have received numerous messages from agents claiming they had jobs for me. I had never heard from this agent before and had no idea who he was. After checking with my real agent, everything seemed to be legit. My agent and I discussed the job at great length and decided to give it a shot. We didn't know anything about the team so we included in the contract that I could opt out if I didn't like the situation.

I started my very bad trip on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am taking the train from Nantes, France to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport for a flight at 3:30 pm. The train ride was 3 hours long and the seats on the train are pretty small but thankfully I had 2 of them to myself so it could have been worse. I passed the time looking at the beautiful French countryside and listening to my iPod. I think I even fell asleep for a little bit, which is crazy because I can never sleep when I'm traveling.

The train trip was just 1/4 of the journey. I had 2 flights to catch still and a car ride. My first flight was at 3:30 pm from Paris to Frankfurt, Germany. I arrived at the airport at 12:30 and had a few hours to kill so I stopped at the airport Starbucks and ordered a Chai Tea Latte. Even though I ordered a Chai Tea Latte, I received something completely different. That should have been a sign of things to come. I didn't care that much because I love Starbucks and was just happy to be drinking something.

I was booked on Lufthansa for my first flight and everything went great. It was my 3rd time flying Lufthansa and I like the airline a lot. The Germans are very efficient. As we were flying in we got a great view of the Frankfurt skyline. I haven't seen many skylines like that in Europe and I really enjoyed it. I guess the people in Franfurt like their skyline too because the basketball team in Frankfurt is called the Skyliners.

Frankfurt Skyline

My second flight was on Austria Air and was leaving at 6:00 pm out of Frankfurt. The flight was great and I was kind of excited to be in Austria. I have heard how beautiful the country was and I wanted to see a little bit of it but I also knew that this was a business trip and I was there for business.

I was met at the airport by the Coach, a national player and a player who was also there on tryout. I thought that it would be a short car ride to the hotel the team was staying at but I was wrong. I was very tired from my long day of travel but I was told that there was a 3 hour car ride to the middle of the Austrian Alps where the team had set up camp. What made this news even worse was that we were going to be coming back to Vienna in the morning to play a game. I wasn't very happy with the recent news but I wasn't in charge of anything so I just went with the flow.

I finally arrived to the hotel at 11:00 pm and was extremely tired and sore from my 14 hours of travel that day. It isn't easy or comfortable being 6'10" and 270 pounds and travelling in tiny planes, trains and automobiles. I was exhausted and had to get a good night of sleep because we had practice at 8 am the next morning.

I got up the next day at 7 am to a standard Euro breakfast of slices of lunch meat and rolls. I was excited to meet the rest of the team and for practice. It was a pretty easy practice and just consisted of walking through plays and getting a feel for the team. My legs felt very heavy from the previous day of travel. I was looking forward to getting on the touring bus and being able to lay down and sleep on the bus ride back to Vienna. I even had a dream of getting the back seat and being able to lay across all of the seats. That dream was crushed when I saw our means of transportation to Vienna.

Last year in France we took a bus with seats that converted into beds. It was by far the best means of transportation I have had. In Switzerland we took big busses too. The team I was with in Austria didn't even have a bus. They had a van! We fit 15 grown men into this big van for a 4 hour trip to Vienna. I have never been more uncomfortable in my life and would have welcomed an airplane seat. I would have even welcomed airline food because the team didn't feed us on the trip.

We arrived in the middle of Vienna around 2 pm. We got out of the bus and the assistant coach told us to be back there in 3 hours. I had no idea what was going on. Apparently we were there to do a little sight seeing as well as to play a basketball game. This gave me the opportunity to at least eat a little something. Normally I would never ever eat pizza before a game but the only other option was McDonald's and I didn't want that either. We did our walking around Vienna and it is a beautiful city. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures but I hope to take my beautiful wife there one day and do some real sight seeing.

After meeting back at the bus at 4:45 we set our sights on the gym to play BC Vienna. The game started out very well as we built a sizable lead of 20 points. I was playing very well too and then the tired and heavy legs started to kick in with the whole team. Our lead slowly sank away and we eventually lost in overtime. My legs felt like crap at the end of the game and to make matters worse I got hit 2 times in the same spot on my thigh. I knew that the van ride back to the hotel was going to be 2 times worse than it was going to the game.

As we piled back into the van, the teams thoughts turned to food. One of the players asked the coach if we were going to stop for food. The coach said yes but we had to pay for it ourselves. I have played professional basketball for going on 6 years now and have never bought my own meal on the road or after a game. Heck, my other teams even bought Liz meals when she traveled with the team. We stopped at a Burger King in Vienna and I purchased a double whopper value meal and opted for a salad instead of french fries. Since I had a slice of ham for breakfast and pizza for lunch, I skipped the fries and tried for something a little healthier.

On the ride home, as I was trying to get comfortable and listening to a foreign movie in a language I didn't understand, I was thinking hard about this new adventure. We arrived back to the hotel at 1 am and I only hoped that things would get better from here on out.

To be continued..............

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where in the World Am I?



That is a good question and one that I am asking myself quite a bit lately. There is a saying that goes something like, with great risk comes great reward so let me take a little bit of time to explain my current situation.

For whatever reason I have not been able to find a job for the upcoming season. My ankle might have something to do with it but I can assure you that it is 100%. I spent the whole summer working out and doing rehab on it to get it to the condition it is in now. I was all ready to go in August but had no team to go too. I talked with my assistant coach from last year and he presented an interesting option to me.

Since I lived and worked in France last year for 10 months I am eligible to receive certain benefits from the government. My old coach explained these benefits to me and I was very interested in receiving them. He also called up his friend who is coaching in Nantes, France at the Pro B level and explained my situation to him and asked him if I can come and practice with the team. I also have another connection with the team because my old teammate from Marquette, Dwight Burke, plays for Nantes. With these 2 connections, the coach from Nantes accepted me to practice with the team.

So, on September 7 I packed up my bags and made the flight across the Atlantic to Nantes, France and began practicing with the team full time. Being in Europe does a lot of things for me professionally. Most importantly it proves to interested teams that my ankle is indeed 100%. It also makes me readily available to teams as it is a lot cheaper for a team to check me out when I'm already on the continent than paying for a flight from Milwaukee. Plus since I am already here, I wouldn't have to deal with the jet lag that occurs after the long flight. Practicing with Nantes also keeps me in great shape and I get to compete against good competition day in and day out.

The only negative to the situation is that Liz is not here with me. We decided that it was better for her to stay at home because I might get a call and need to leave at any moment. That is hard enough for 1 person, let alone 2. It is really tough being away from her but we will be together soon again.

The situation has been good so far. It feels really great to be back in France and playing basketball as well. I love this country and Liz and I have made some great friends here in the past year. Nantes is a little bigger than Blois but it is a great city as well. It is more vibrant and lively because it is a university city. It seems like there is always something going on and the streets are packed. There is even some crazy elephant robot machine that roams around the city occasionally. I haven't seen it personally yet but I have seen pictures and signs for it.

I have done a little exploring while I have been here but not too much. The downtown area is pretty cool and there is a castle here too which I love. My favorite part of the city though is the little side streets. There is even one filled with crepe shops. If that doesn't say France, then I don't know what does.
I think this is the crepe street.

Basketball is going really well too. Like I said it feels great to be back out on the court even if this isn't my team. The coach here is great and is really helping me out. The team had a few injuries a couple weeks ago and the coach asked me if I could help them out and play in a friendly game against Limoges. Limoges is a club with a great tradition in France and they recently moved down from Pro A. I of course said yes because it could be a great opportunity for me to get seen.

The game went really well for me. I played 17 minutes and led the game in rebounding with a game evaluation of 13 and most importantly the team won in a thriller with a score of 88-87! It was awesome to be back playing in a real game. Now I just need a job of my own.

An opportunity was presented to me last week that I took. It was one of the weirdest situations of my life but it deserves a blog of its own. I'll save that for next time.

Until then...........


Thursday, September 15, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation 2011

Summer has pretty much come and gone for me and it was a very busy one. Usually, I take some time off from working out and basketball at the beginning of the off season but because of my ankle surgery I had to rehab and work out even harder to come back to my normal form. My first 2 weeks back at home I was still on crutches but when I got off of them I hit the ground running.

I was busy with rehab every day this summer. When I left France in June, my doctors were vague with what I needed to do. The initial protocol was non weight bearing on my right ankle for 3 weeks and then weight bearing with crutches for another 3 weeks. They said one month after surgery I could start swimming and riding the bike and after 2 months I could start running and after 3 months I could play basketball again. This was great but they didn't tell me how to rehab or things I could do.

When I got back to Milwaukee, I searched my contacts for people who could help me out. I called up my old teammate and friend, Tony Gries, and he gave me some great exercises to do for my ankle to improve my mobility and strength. The training staff at Marquette was also really great. Head trainer, Ernest Eugene, worked with me during the basketball camps applying treatment and doing crazy mobility exercises to my ankle. Ernest also referred me to Athletico Milwaukee and Luis Rivera. I owe Luis a HUGE thank you. He worked with me the most and really attacked my ankle and my rehab. I probably wouldn't have been able to come back to where I am now without Luis.

On top of doing my rehab I was also lifting and doing cardio everyday to stay fit for my return to the court. My rehab was going so well that I started running 1 week before July and only 2.5 weeks off of crutches. I started shooting again when I started running. It was just like riding a bike and it felt great to be out on the court again.

My agent called me in the middle of July to tell me that a team in Japan wanted to sign me but couldn't do so until they saw that I was healthy. There was a simple solution to this because the coach was American and from LA and the General Manager was out in California at the time. Technically it was before I was supposed to start playing but I consulted with my training team and they said I was good to go. So, I flew out to LA for this team to see me.

I thought the workout went well but the team thought otherwise. I won't go into the reasons for this because I still think its BS and the point of this blog isn't to bash people. So, for my sanity, I'll just let it be. C'est la vie.

I started playing 5 on 5 again at the end of July and was able to participate in the Milwaukee Summer Pro Am Championship weekend. The team I was on finished in last place during the regular season but we ended up with the consolation championship with the addition of myself and Dan Fitzgerald. It really felt great to be running up and down the court again with people in the stands. I even dunked on someone! I hadn't done that in awhile.

Consolation Champs

One morning in early August I received a text from my old teammate Wes Matthews asking me if I wanted to play some pickup at Marquette. He had said that D Wade was coming back and there were going to be some other good players there. I am not one to turn down a good pickup game so I came down. It was really fun to play with some old teammates again and there was an incredible collection of talent in the gym. After those pickup games I knew that I had recovered from my surgery and I was good to go.

August started and I didn't have a job. My agent had some leads but nothing worked out. I kind of suspected that was going to happen with the injury and the NBA lockout going on. Not that I was competing for jobs with NBA players but there is/was a trickle down effect. There were also enough NBA players saying they were going to head overseas that it slowed the markets up. While it is frustrating to not have a job at this time I just worked harder to keep my mind off of not having a job.

I traveled to Michigan in the middle of August for my sisters wedding. The wedding was by far the craziest wedding I have ever been too and it was soooooo much fun. Liz and I stuck around Michigan for a week and half after the wedding to see family and friends.

My sister and me on her wedding day!

Every summer in college I would come home after the summer school session and before the fall semester started. I would take the time to spend with my family and also to workout. I have some really great memories running the stadium steps and working out in the gym. I had the opportunity to do the same thing this summer and I took advantage of it. I treated it like I was in my own training camp. In the morning I would head to the track and in the afternoon I would head into the gym to shoot and do more conditioning with my dad.

The old stomping grounds!

I had a great time this summer and made some great memories. Liz and I lived back downtown on Lake Michigan and had a great view of the lake from our living room and bedroom window. I spent the mornings reading and drinking coffee by the window looking at the lake. I will definitely miss that. The summer was great and we got to spend a lot of time with our friends but it was time for something to happen.

In my next post I'll let you know where in the world I am.

Until then............


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Time Story Time

I read an interesting blog about the least popular number in college basketball during my coffee this morning. It made me think of why I have worn the numbers I have during my career. Numbers have never been a big thing for me but there has always been a reason I have worn the numbers I have had. Lets take a little trip throughout my number career.

Maltby Middle School # 54 - This one is kind of funny. In middle school the bigger jerseys are the higher numbers. Well, I was always a big kid so I was destined for a higher number. I could have picked a few different numbers but I picked 54 because that was the channel number for MTV. Sounds like a good choice right?

Brighton High School JV #33 - I played JV basketball as a freshman in high school so I was low on the totem poll when it came to picking jersey numbers. I wanted #34 but someone had already taken that. My second choice was #32 but that was taken by another older player. My last choice was #33 because that was Grant Hill's number and I loved GH growing up (even though he was a Duke guy.) It was my last choice but a good one and one that would stick.

Brighton High School Varsity #25 - My sophomore year in high school I played on the Varsity team. For those unfamiliar with Brighton, there was a "superstar athlete" named Drew Henson that went to the school. He was drafted by the Yankees out of high school and was the starting quarterback at the University of Michigan before ultimately choosing baseball as his career path. Drew happened to play basketball too (big surprise) and he wore #25. Since I wanted to be successful like Drew, and #33 was taken, I decided that 25 would be a good choice to wear.

Brighton High School Varsity #33 - Since I was a sophomore playing varsity basketball I had a lot to learn. Jason Razavi and Eric Hutchins were 2 guys that kind of took me under their wing and helped me out when times were tough. I really looked up to both of them. They weren't the best basketball players but worked really hard and kept a great attitude. To honor Eric Hutchins I decided to wear his #33.

Marquette University #33 - I kept on wearing 33 after high school because I was successful in the number and I grew to really like it.

Lugano Tigers #11 - I had planned on wearing 33 after college but I found out that the numbers 4-15 are the only numbers that players can wear in Switzerland. It was kind of cool because I was starting a new chapter in my basketball life and I was able to start with a new number. I didn't really care what number I wore but when I saw the available numbers I knew I wanted 11. I thought it would be a good number because Isaiah Thomas wore it and I have no problem with Zeke.

Sion Herens #4 - I had to switch numbers again because 11 was already taken by another teammate. I decided to pick #4 because Chris Webber had worn it and I had wanted to take a low number since I had to pick a high number in middle school.

SAM Massagno #15 - I didn't get to pick my number this year because I came in as a replacement 2 games into the season. I really enjoyed my first year in Massagno and I played very well in the number so I had decided to keep the number for my second year with the club.

ADA Blois #15 - I enjoyed 2 successful seasons wearing 15 so I decided to stick with the number in France. It is not a very exciting or interesting story but that is what it is.

Numbers aren't very important in sports but they are kind of an interesting thing. I will try and stick with 15 the rest of my career but if it is not available then I will switch to something else and life will go on just fine.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Fun In Blois 2

We are just a week away from returning back to the good ol' US of A. Ideally I would still be playing basketball right now and be leaving for Bordeaux to be playing in the Final Four of our league but that was not the hand that we were dealt. At the end of every year I/we like to go on a little vacation to see another part of the world and kick back a little bit. Last year we went to Tuscany and the year before I went to Rome, Florence and Venice with my teammate Brody. Because of how difficult it is for me to get around right now we are unable to go on any cool trips. So, in the meantime we are just trying to enjoy Blois a little bit in the last few days we have left.

I did some research on Blois when I first signed with the club back in July 2010. One of the first things I found was the Chateau de Blois. It is a big beautiful chateau that is the centerpiece of the city and was once the residence of 7 kings and 10 queens of France. If you would like to visit the official website of the chateau, you can click here.

The outside of the chateau is my favorite of all of the beautiful chateaus in the Loire Valley. The architecture is beautiful and represents many different styles from throughout history.

Gothic

Classic

Renaissance

During the spring and summer months, the chateau offers a light and sound show to showcase it's history. I have wanted to do see this ever since I found out about it. Now, that I am officially on vacation, last Wednesday night was the perfect night to check it all out. It was about 45 minutes and really cool. Liz and I learned some interesting facts about the chateau like Saint Joan of Arc prayed there before departing for Orleans to liberate the city.

Liz took some great pictures of it all. Check them out.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fun in Blois

Blois has a lot of fun and interesting things to do. The city has so much history and can be a little overwhelming sometimes. There is a big beautiful chateau that sits on the banks of the Loire River as well as ramparts that line the town. The Maison de la Magie is another interesting thing in Blois. Translated into English, it is the House of Magic and displays magic collections from all over the world.

My teammate Kai and I found the House of Magic way back in August of 2010 when we first arrived in France. We were out exploring our new home and wandered up into the square of the chateau. As we were taking it all in something strange started to happen to the building on the opposite end of the square. Windows started opening and dragons started coming out. It is a little hard to explain but it was surprisingly entertaining.

Check out the video below to see what it is all about.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My Life at the Moment

After my surgery the doctor told me that I had to be on crutches for 6 weeks with 3 weeks of non weight bearing. It didn't sound so bad when he told me because I have always seen people on crutches and they made it look so easy. I am an athlete and 6 weeks on crutches seemed like nothing. I wish i could take those thoughts back.

I realized how miserable it was going to be as I was being discharged from the hospital and I broke out in a full sweat going from my room to the lobby. I thought that I could still carry out my daily activities but after that I realized the next 6 weeks would be a little bit more difficult.

For those that haven't been to Europe, beds over here are very low to the ground and since I couldn't put my left foot on the ground it was very hard to get up. Our guest bedroom had 2 twin beds that were higher up off the ground so we moved out of our bedroom and into our guest bedroom. I spent the first 2 weeks after the surgery in the guest bedroom with ice on my foot and my it elevated. Thankfully I had my nook, my computer and my wonderful wife to help me pass the time. I think I read 5 books and watched all of Friday Night Lights in that time.

The first week felt like 1 month. I thought I would enjoy being catered too but I found out that I don't like it that much. After 2 weeks I became more comfortable with the crutches and we moved back into the bedroom.

I am now 3.5 weeks post op and feeling really good. I am currently walking with the assistance of my crutches. It is still really difficult to get around with them but thankfully I still don't have any real pain. I am also limiting how much I am out and about. The doctor told me to be very careful and to respect the pain and my ankle. Only 3 more weeks and I can throw the stupid crutches away.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Ankle Update

Alright guys. It has been awhile since I have updated but I actually have very good and valid reasons. I have been extremely upset with the internet lately and I had to take a break. I couldn't stand reading my friends political opinions on Facebook or reading what they were doing for dinner. It was too much for me to handle so I had to take a step back. I have actually written quite a few blog posts in the time but just didn't publish them because of my disdain for the internet. I will try and get them up soon though.

I do have note worthy news though on my health. I actually had surgery on my ankle on April 28th. Way back in February I went to see a doctor in Paris. After examining my ankle as well as my x rays, we decided to try a cortisone shot to see if that would cure the problems with my ankle. The cortisone shot was unsuccessful so I went back to Paris in the middle of April to see what the next step was.

The doctor proposed a simple ankle arthroscopy to clean the joint out and remove a bone spur that had formed on my tibia. I was not too excited at the idea of having surgery but it would make my ankle better again so I had to do it. I went in for surgery a week later and I am currently resting.

The operation went great and the doctor accomplished what he wanted to get done. I have not really had any pain at all. Things went great and I am excited to start physical therapy and get back out on the court. The good thing is that I will be ready for the start of training camp next season so I am happy about that.

I actually have some stories about my hospital stay but those will have to wait for future blog posts.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

St. Michel



Sports teams in Europe survive by sponsorships and partnerships. Every team I have been on has had main sponsors and smaller sponsors. The main sponsors are the ones that get on the jerseys and the smaller sponsors have signs around the gym.

Here in Blois we have many sponsors and they are very important to the success of the team as they provide the money to pay us. After every home game we go to a tent to have a drink with the VIP's and every few weeks there will be a dinner held afterwards. I actually like going to these events because our fans and sponsors are great. Blois is a small town so we see a lot of these people around town and it is an opportunity to interact with them. It is also a great chance for me to work on my French.

The other day we had an event held at St. Michel bakery. I had never heard of this company before so I was intrigued about it. I had no idea what to expect but I knew it was important because all of our main sponsors were going to be there. I thought it would be like the other events with some drinks and a buffet of food.

I was expecting a little bakery but we pulled up to a huge factory. This was an event unlike one I have ever gone too and it was actually very cool. When we entered we were given a lab coat, face mask, hair net and booties for our shoes because we were going to go on a tour of the factory.

I won't bore you with all of the details of the company but St. Michel is a family owned company founded in 1905. It has 5 factories throughout France and we toured the factory and distribution center in Contres, France. The factory was very impressive. People were there for quality control but robots and machines were used to make all of the biscuits. In this particular factory they produce 6,000,000 Madeleine biscuits a day.

When we left the factory we received an assorted gift bag of their Madeleine biscuits. I had never had these before but they are delicious. I was planning on waiting to open them until Liz got back from the South of France but I couldn't wait. I don't even know if they are going to last for her. My favorites are the ones coated with sugar.



Overall it was a very positive experience as most of these functions are. I had the opportunity to learn about French businesses, interact with some sponsors and got a bunch of free desserts. Now I have to figure out if we have these back at home or if I can have them exported to the United States.




Sunday, March 20, 2011

March Madness


March is such a special time of year. I have always loved the month because of basketball and March Madness. I think I inherited it from my father because he used to tell me that it was his favorite time of the year and can probably thank him for being glued to the tv watching the tournament.

I have a lot of great memories of playing in the NCAA tournament and I would love to share them but I didn't intend to do that in this post. I wanted to let everyone back at home know that I am able to watch all of the games and have been doing so for the past 5 tournaments.

The NCAA and CBS have been broadcasting all of the games online since I have been playing in Europe. Most content broadcast online from the United States is usually blocked by location but thankfully the tournament comes in perfectly. This means a lot of late nights for me but it's a small sacrifice for the greatest time of year. Of course if I had/have a game the next day then I would not be up until 3 am.

I would rather watch the game on a big screen at home or in a bar back at home, but my computer screen works just fine for now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Another Ankle Update

I am slowly but surely making progress toward my ankle recovery and my return to the basketball court. It has been a long and frustrating process but I think that the worst is over. I went to Paris on February 16 to see a specialist to get another opinion on what the correct plan of action should be. The Doctor suggested another injection into the joint to try and relieve the inflammation and to regain the range of motion within the joint.

After discussing the plan with my agent, American doctor and my family we decided to move forward. Unfortunately the plan didn't move as fast as we wanted it too. I was growing frustrated very quickly but the team told me that the French medical system is slow and things don't move quickly. I had to wait a few weeks but I finally had my injection on March 9.

I had already had an injection in my ankle back in December and it went very smoothly without any pain. I wish the same could be said about the most recent injection. The doctor was nice and spoke excellent English but when he put the needle into my ankle it hurt like crazy. The needle has to go in about 2 inches to make sure that the fluid is absorbed into the articulation. Maybe I wasn't ready for it but it was not the most comfortable thing in the world.

I spent the next couple of days on crutches. Not because of pain but because it is best for the fluid to be absorbed into the ankle and I am doing great for the time being. It takes 3-5 days for the injection to work so I shouldn't feel a whole lot better until then.

We are going forward with my return to activity and therapy. We do not need to rush it like last time so we are going slowly. On Monday I will be back on a bike but only at 50%. The goal is to not put too much pressure on the ankle joint and to make sure the medicine is still working. I can resume shooting on Tuesday but not too hard and only taking spot up jumpers. The goal is to try running and jogging on Friday. I can do this right now but we want to try it and see if there is pain after the injection. I am very excited for this day because I have not run in over a month. It's crazy because I hate running but I want to do it again.

So, that is the ankle update for now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last injection and things will be on the up and up from here on out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Staying Ready

While I am in my holding pattern right now because of my ankle injury, I am reminded of what Coach Crean used to say: always stay ready because you never know when your number is going to be called. I took this to heart while I was in school. I may not have always been happy with my playing time but I tried to do something about it. I wasn't playing a lot during my senior year so I used to get shots up late at night or when I didn't have class. When my number was finally called at the end of my senior year, I was ready and made the most of my minutes. If I did not stay ready back in 2006 then I would not be where I am today.

I am taking Coach Crean's advice right now. I don't know when I will be back on the court but I am trying to stay ready and be prepared for the comeback. I am eating right, working out and trying to watch as much basketball as possible just so I can stay around the game.

While it is not possible for me to run right now, I go to the gym every day and ride the bike. In addition to riding the bike at the gym, I am also lifting to keep up my strength and working on my flexibility.

I am also watching what I eat because I am not burning a lot of calories on the court. I eat a hearty breakfast of eggs, potatoes and toast every morning. For lunch I usually eat a chicken sandwich and soup. Finally for dinner I will have meat, pasta/potatoes/rice, and vegetables. The older I get and the farther I advance in my career, the more I realize how important it is to eat right.

I have an appointment next Wednesday in Tours, France to get an injection in my ankle. I hope that this works and if it does then I will be ready.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Louisville 2006

With my newly found free time and absence from the court, I thought that I should share one of my favorite Coach Crean stories. I accumulated many good stories during my 4 years under Coach Crean. As many people know Coach was very intense and our practices were brutal. It wasn't out of the ordinary for us to have a 3-4 hour barn burner in the Old Gym or at the Al. It's an old cliche, but I came to Marquette as a boy and I left as a man.

Many people also know that Coach is a great motivator. We had a team meeting at the start of every school year and I always came out of that meeting amped up and ready to go. Everybody has heard the story of Coach taking us to the Super Dome when we played at Tulane in 2003 so we could feel and experience where the Final Four was that year. That's a great story and one that I will tell my kids and grandkids but I am going to share a different one.

I was a senior when we entered the Big East in the 2005-06 season. Our experienced senior class had graduated and we were coming off an embarrassing home loss to Western Michigan in the NIT. We were just 2 years removed from the Final Four but it felt like a decade. The expectations for my senior year were low and many people thought that it was going to be a rebuilding year. Coach brought in a great recruiting class but they were young and inexperienced. I think we shook peoples opinions when we destroyed UCONN in our first Big East game.

We had our ups and downs that year. The game after we beat UCONN, we lost at home to Cincinnati. We also lost at Rutgers in front of 200 people because of a snow storm that hit the east coast. It seemed like we had hit rock bottom and we had a choice to make. To quote Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, "We heal as a team or we're gonna crumble." After the Rutgers game we beat #17 Georgetown and #18 Pittsburgh in a span of 3 days and then won at Notre Dame. We had hit our form and were playing well with a game at Louisville on the horizon.

Louisville is always a big game for Marquette. The games are well documented between the two teams. There have been buzzer beaters, blow outs and everything in between. The game in 2006 would be another classic Marquette vs Louisville game.

We did not have a good practice the day before the game. When I got married, people told me to never go to bed mad. Well, I think there should be a saying for a coach to never board a plane mad. Coach was not happy with practice and the only reason he ended it was because we had to leave and catch the plane. If it would have been a home game then we would have stayed until we got it right.

As usual, we had film that night at the hotel in Louisville. We usually watch player edits or clips from games to lock in mentally. Before film we were told to bring our running shoes and were handed practice equipment as we walked into the film room. That was unusual and seemed like a bad sign. Coach walked in the room and we watched a few clips before he told us to get our gear on to run through some things downstairs.

Our hotel in Louisville had a big open area next to the pool that was definitely big enough to run around and have a mini practice in. We all started walking to the open area but Coach made a bee line to the pool and screamed "last one in doesn't play tomorrow." I was shocked. Coach had just ran and jumped into the pool with all of his clothes on and glasses. None of us knew what to do. We were all on edge because we thought Coach was mad about practice. I can't remember who it was (I think it was Steve) but someone said screw it and ran and jumped in the pool too and the rest of us followed. We splashed around and acted like little kids until hotel security came.

I thought this was awesome. Sometimes teams do need that extra film session or those extra plays to run though. On this night we just needed to act like kids and chill out to prepare for the game.

We came into the game ready to go. It felt like 100 degrees inside Freedom Hall that night. The crowd in Freedom Hall was loud and obnoxious. It was a back and forth game with both teams giving their all. It was also senior night and Louisville wanted to send their seniors out on a high note. We were down 3 with a few seconds to go in regulation and had to take the ball full court. The ball was inbounded to Dominic James and he hit a 3 as time expired to send the game into overtime. We were going crazy and were confident heading into OT. Unfortunately we didn't have enough that night and lost the game 67-60.

The locker room was strange after that game. It felt like we had lost something more than a game. We had given everything we had and still came up short. That's one of the worst feelings you can have as a basketball player. Coach came in and gave a rousing speech to us but it still didn't help heal our pain.

We flew back to Milwaukee after the game and got in late. As we were leaving the coaches we heard the usual, "don't miss class tomorrow" from one of them. It was a sluggish day of classes that morning. We were tired and knew that we had practice immediately after. We also knew that practices after losses were usually tough and we were not looking forward to it.

We started out in the film room and watched the second half and overtime of the game. It was a great film session and we examined things we did right and things we did wrong. There was no yelling or screaming. It was just a learning session.

After film we made our way to the practice court. Coach put 60 minutes on the clock and we ran through some plays with no contact. The game took a lot out of us and I think my weight was down 5 pounds as a result. This type of practice was something Coach had never done before but it was just what we needed. We had a chance to sweat and run a little bit but not be overly exerted. At the end of practice we all had to hit a shot within a few seconds like Dominic had done the night before. It took some of us a few tries but we all did it eventually.

We all started to relax a little bit when we thought practice was over but Coach called us back up to the film room to watch some Providence edits. The beginning to Jamie Foxx's stand up special I Might Need Security started playing as Coach said, "Alright guys, really lock in." We all expected to see the usual beginning to our edits and didn't know what to think. We realized what Coach had done and then laughed for the next hour.

Coach shocked us twice in two days. This is one of my favorite stories from my playing days at Marquette. I think it really demonstrates how much the coaches cared for us as well as the family atmosphere in the program. Maybe we didn't get along all the time or agree with certain decisions, but Coach knew what was best for the team and I think he just did what he thought was best.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Update

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged about basketball in awhile and I have a really good reason for it, there isn't a whole lot to talk about at the moment. On November 6 I rolled my ankle coming down from a lay up during a game against Le Puy. It was the worst pain I have ever felt on a basketball court and it caused me to miss the rest of the game and an additional 6 games.

During my absence, my team brought in a medical replacement for me while I took time to get healthy. The plan was for me to come back at full strength after the Christmas break. My ankle felt better day by day and I received a cortisone shot the week before I was about to leave for the United States.

I felt great after the shot and was very optimistic about my return to the court. I have been playing basketball every year for as long as I can remember and it was very hard to watch from the sidelines. My team had lost some games in my absence and I was eager to get back on the court and help the team. We have the goal of moving to Pro B and I want to be a part of it.

I used the Christmas break to kind of recharge my batteries physically and mentally because I knew it was full go when I returned to France. It was nice to get away from basketball and spend some time with my family. I could not take all of the time away from the court though because I wanted to return in good condition. During the break I went to the gym every day to get some conditioning in and to get some shots up. It was also good to test my ankle and see how it responded.

When I got back to Blois, the doctor told me that I was going to have some pain in my ankle but it would slowly go away. It felt great to be out running on the court and playing the game I love. I had a little bit of pain but I ignored it because the doctor had told me it was normal and because it felt so great to be out there again.

I was back playing basketball but I wasn't playing like I was before the injury. My ankle actually started to worsen the more I practiced and I wasn't playing like I was capable of. It was very frustrating and was in opposition to what the doctor had told me.

So, that brings me to today. It was impossible for me to continue playing with my ankle in this condition. In this situation I had to think of my career. I am still young, only 26, and I want to keep playing at least for another 2 years. I talked with several people and asked their advice. I had a meeting with the management and I told them that I wanted to see another doctor to figure out what the heck is going on in my ankle and I didn't want to continue playing with this particular problem.

It is very frustrating to be back on the sidelines but I know I made the right choice. It is just hard right now. I go to the weight room every day to keep my conditioning at a high level in anticipation to get back on the court. I also go watch practice every day. Watching practice is probably the hardest part. My teammates are great and I really enjoy playing with them but it isn't fun watching them from the sidelines.

On February 25 I have an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist in Paris. Hopefully I will get some answers and find out what the appropriate process is. Until then, I am just going crazy and waiting around.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Bowl

The Super Bowl. The game that is by America and for America. Many argue that it is the greatest event in American sports (I disagree and think that the Final Four is the greatest event in American sports.) When I was growing up, I remember the Super Bowl announcers bragging about the Super Bowl being a world wide event. I believed it too and thought that there were huge Super Bowl parties all over the world and envisioned Chinese people eating nachos, pizza and drinking beer. I thought that everyone celebrated and cared about the game like we did and laughed along with the commercials.

This is my 5th year of being in Europe while our holy game takes place. I have managed to watch 4 games and only missed last years because we had a game that day and I fell asleep because I was so tired. While I was sleeping, my wife watched the game because that is what you are supposed to do as an American. I have watched the game in French, Italian, German and English.

Through my experiences, I have to say that the world does not care about the Super Bowl or American football in general. In fact, the only time you will see football highlights on tv is when there is a fight or when someone gets hurt. Through a recent conversation with one of my teammates, I found out that football is unattractive to them because it does not have enough action and it is too slow. I told him that he needs to stop watching the University of Wisconsin and Big Ten football games. Now this is just one European's point of view so don't criticize me for it. I also found the obvious lack of interest because the game is on so late over here.

My first year in Lugano I watched the game with my French teammate Zay. He went to school in the USA so he knew football and knew how big of a deal the Super Bowl was. Zay would randomly laugh at the French announcers watching the game and remark about the stupid things they would say. Apparently they would just explain the rules in very simple terms and talk about the fans with their shirts off.

Europe is however making strides towards the broadcast of NFL games and trying to create interest in the league and the sport. In Massagno, I was able to find games on an Austrian tv station broadcast in English directly over from the NFL Network. Likewise, I have found NFL games on the French tv station, Sport Plus.

I have no idea if the sport will take off in Europe but I think Roger Goodell hopes that it happens. I will be up late tonight watching the game for sure. I am leaning towards watching it on my Slingbox rather than French tv because I will be able to watch it in English and see the commercials. Win-win.

Watching the game is an easy decision but who I want to win is not. I am unfortunately a Lions fan and have been all of my life. Being a Lions fan, I grew up hating the Packers. I had never heard of Green Bay before and I thought that their team colors were terrible together. I also went to college in Wisconsin and saw the state's love for their Packers. All of these factors mixed in with my jealousy for their winning ways have caused me to not like them.

I have mixed feelings though now. One of my old teammates from Massagno is friends with Aaron Rogers. He speaks very highly of him and I really admire the way he handled the whole Brett Favre situation. I also like Charles Woodson because he played at Michigan and Greg Jennings because I played AAU with him. My wife is a Packers fan as well and if they win it will make her very happy. For these reasons, and only these reasons, I want the Packers to win the Super Bowl tonight. I never thought I would think this, let alone make it publicly known. If I ever buy a cheese head then I will have serious problems.

The question has to be asked. If the Packers win, it means the Lions could have won the Super Bowl this year right? That makes complete sense to me.