Associated Press

Dirk Nowitzki eating his way through retirement and loving it

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki eventually plans on working out again. The recently retired star of the Dallas Mavericks wants to stay in somewhat decent shape.

The big German hasn’t put a timeline on it — he’s assuming several more rounds of pizza and ice cream will come first.

Nowitzki looks relaxed and happy, with a neatly trimmed beard surrounding a wide smile, nearly two months after announcing his retirement on the court after his final home game in his record 21st season with the same franchise.

“It’s been everything I dreamed of, drinking, eating everything in sight,” Nowitzki said after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Texas Rangers game this past week. “On vacation without really worrying about anything, about staying in shape. I’m going to start working out again and enjoying that. But as of now, I have zero motivation to go work out.”

The 40-year-old wants to spend time with his wife and three children and visit Germany more often to see his aging parents.

During the emotional ceremony after the home finale, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban promised the best player in franchise history a job for life. Nowitzki says it’ll be at least a few years before he takes Cuban up on the offer — or decides to do something else.

“I’m sure there’s another challenge out there waiting for me,” Nowitzki said. “As of now, I don’t think that’s something I think about. I want to do some stuff that I wasn’t able to do the last 20 years. Eventually, that’s going to get a little old and I need a new challenge in life.”

The city of Dallas has started the process of renaming a portion of a street near American Airlines Center to Nowitzki Way. A few weeks before throwing out the first pitch at a Rangers game, Nowitzki tried a penalty kick during halftime of an FC Dallas soccer match — unsuccessfully, according to young heir apparent Luka Doncic .

Nowitzki also hosted his annual charity baseball game, featuring Dallas Cowboys stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The event always sells out a 10,000-seat minor league stadium north of Dallas, but the 14-time All-Star wondered if brisker sales this year had anything to do with his retirement.

He’s noticing those sorts of things more now and pausing to consider why people approach him in public to thank him for staying in Dallas for one of the longest careers in league history.

“That means a lot,” said Nowitzki, who broke a record Kobe Bryant held at 20 seasons with the Lakers. “When you’re so busy and trying to keep winning games, you never really take a step back and really soak that up or really get the grasp of how many lives you’ve touched over two decades.”

The early part of the offseason has always been about unwinding for the highest-scoring foreign-born player in NBA history.

But this one has been different — the smiles while talking about taking the kids to Disneyworld, the jokes about weight (already at least 20 pounds over his playing days). But Nowitzki says at 7 feet, “you can hide it pretty good.”

“He’s already put up hall of fame numbers, and I think he’ll show the stamina and the stability to be able to eat ice cream for the next 30 years,” Cuban said, joking. “Probably the happiest man in Dallas right now is the guy who makes Dirk’s suit.”

When he retired, Nowitzki made no secret about plans for his next big party. It’ll be June 19, when he turns 41. That’s the number that will soon hang in the rafters of the 2007 MVP’s old home arena — and a number that’s iconic for fans who celebrated the franchise’s only championship with their NBA Finals MVP in 2011.

Nowitzki has been hit and miss on watching the playoffs because of the travel. He saw some of the early games, including Kawhi Leonard’s improbable series-winning jumper for Toronto against Philadelphia in the second round.

Nowitzki says he sat there thinking, “You’ll never get to do that again. So that was a little bit a sad moment.”

But for Nowitzki, who is sixth on the NBA scoring list with 31,560 points, the feeling didn’t last long. And there haven’t been many since he’s retired.

Joseph Tsai to buy rest of Nets, Barclays Arena for $3.4 billion

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NEW YORK — Joe Tsai has agreed to buy the remaining 51 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center from Mikhail Prokhorov in deals that two people with knowledge of the details say are worth about $3.4 billion.

Terms were not disclosed Friday, but the people told The Associated Press that Tsai is paying about $2.35 billion for the Nets – a record for a U.S. pro sports franchise – and nearly $1 billion in a separate transaction for the arena. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the transactions have not yet been completed.

Tsai is the co-founder and executive vice president of the Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant. He already had purchased a 49 percent stake in the team from Prokhorov in 2018, with the option to become controlling owner in four years.

Instead, he pushed up that timeline for full ownership of a team on the rise after signing superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in July.

Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire, became the NBA’s first non-North American owner in 2010 and oversaw the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn two years later. He spent big in the first couple years after the move in a quest to chase a championship, but the team soon became one of the worst in the NBA before rallying to return to the playoffs last season.

“It has been an honor and a joy to open Barclays Center, bring the Nets to Brooklyn, and watch them grow strong roots in the community while cultivating global appeal,” Prokhorov said in a statement. “The team is in a better place today than ever before and I know that Joe will build on that success, while continuing to deliver the guest experience at Barclays Center that our fans, employees, and colleagues in the industry enjoy.”

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of September and is subject to approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors.

That would put Tsai, a native of Taiwan, in full control of the team by the time the Nets head to China to play two exhibition games against the Los Angeles Lakers in October. That comes at the start of a season of renewed excitement for the Nets, who just three seasons ago won an NBA-worst 20 games but are set to make a big move up the standings after landing two of the best players on the market when free agency opened.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago. He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank,” Tsai said. “I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Brett Yormark, the CEO of BSE Global, which manages the team and the arena, will oversee the transition before leaving for a new role.

Jazz coach Quin Snyder tells Donovan Mitchell to ‘be a sponge’ around Gregg Popovich

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While other players continue to pull out of the USA Basketball roster — De'Aaron Fox was the latest, and P.J. Tucker before him — Utah’s Donovan Mitchell has been outspoken in his commitment to the team.

“Me, I’m 22, some guys are older and got to rest their bodies and I understand that…” Mitchell said Friday night after Team USA’s exhibition game win over Spain. “For me, I’ve never been part of USA Basketball and I’m honored to be here, I’m honored to have this privilege to go out and compete.”

A lot of players have left — or just not put their names in the hat in the first place — saying they wanted to focus on preparing for the regular season, especially players in the Western Conference, which is deep with outstanding teams. The Utah Jazz, now with Mike Conley at the point, are one of those teams with high expectations.

Mitchell, however, has the full backing of his coach Quin Snyder to stay with Team USA and learn from Gregg Popovich, as Snyder told Marc Stein of the New York Times.

“Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached…

“Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”

Popovich has had an impact on the young players on the roster. For example, there’s more maturity to Kyle Kuzma‘s game, and Popovich recognized him on the court Friday night when Kuzma made a couple of smart plays against Spain.

Just having different coaching voices — not just Popovich but his assistants Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce, and Villanova’s Jay Wright — can help a young player. The message may be consistent, but said in a different way, one that better gets through to the player. Styles matter.

Mitchell led Team USA in scoring against Spain with 13, but Snyder and Jazz fans are hoping for more. Not just gold at the World Cup in China starting Sept. 1, but that Mitchell comes back energized and with a broadened game after having been a sponge next to Popovich.

Marcus Smart reportedly cleared to play for Team USA

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Through two weeks of training camp, first in Las Vegas then in Los Angeles, through one intrasquad scrimmage and one exhibition game, Marcus Smart has sat in street clothes.

The Celtics guard has a calf injury that has sidelined him. On Thursday in Los Angeles he took part in the shooting parts of practice during training camp, but not the full-contact scrimmages against the select team. All he could really do was this.

Friday night he never got out of his warmups and did not play against Spain, but he did say on the broadcast he would be back.

Turns out, he was cleared to be back the next day according to Mark Stein of the New York Times.

This takes away a little of the sting of De'Aaron Fox deciding to withdraw from the team just before it left on Saturday for Australia.

It also means four Celtics are on the USA roster: Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. USA assistant coach Steve Kerr jokingly said to me last week he asked Brad Stevens for a thank you gift for running Celtics mini-camp.

Smart is one of the 13 players headed down under for a series of tune-up games before the World Cup (against Australia and Canada). If he’s fully healthy enough to go, Smart is a lock to make the roster because of his physical perimeter defense and ability to shoot the three (36 percent last season in the NBA, and the international line is a little closer in). He likely would come off the bench at the two behind Donovan Mitchell.

Bill Walton broadcast White Sox vs. Angels game and was nothing short of brilliant

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Bill Walton is brilliant.

The Hall of Fame hippie and big man was in the broadcast booth Friday night — not for basketball, but for the White Sox vs. Angels MLB game. Walton loves baseball even if his understanding of the sport is… unconventional.

I want Bill Walton to narrate my life.

The world missed him while he battled serious back issues, it’s so good to have him out and around and being himself again.