By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
After we read his autobiography--It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $24.95), ghosted by Sally Jenkins--we were even more in awe of this cycling stud. Not just because of what he's overcome in his life, but because Armstrong hates Plano. He was born in Oak Cliff but grew up in that plastic Collin County town now fawned over by The Dallas Morning News. But don't take our word for it. Here are some choice excerpts from Armstrong's bio about his "hometown." Just remember them the next time you read that Armstrong is Plano's favorite son:
"Plano had its effect on me, too. It was the quintessential American suburb, with strip malls, perfect grid streets, and faux-antebellum country clubs in between empty brown wasted fields. It was populated by guys in golf shirts and Sansabelt pants, and women in bright fake gold jewelry, and alienated teenagers. Nothing there was old, nothing real. To me there was something soul-deadened about the place."
"In Plano, Texas, if you weren't a football player, you didn't exist, and if you weren't upper middle class, you might as well not exist either."
"I felt shunned at times. I was the guy who did weird sports and who didn't wear the right labels...There was an unwritten dress code; the socially acceptable people all wore uniforms with Polo labels on them. They might not have known it, but that's what they were: uniforms. Same pants, same boots, same belts, same wallets, same caps. It was total conformity, and everything I was against."
"Not even the teachers at school seemed to understand what I was after. During the second semester of my senior year [at Plano East High School], I was invited by the U.S. Cycling Federation to go to Colorado Springs to train with the junior U.S. national team, and to travel to Moscow for my first big international bike race, the 1990 Junior World Championships...But the administrators at Plano East objected...You'd think a trip to Moscow would be worth extra credits, and you'd think a school would be proud to have an Olympic prospect in its graduation rolls. But they didn't care."
"A team of six administrators met with my mother and me and told us that unless I made up all of the work in every subject over just a few weeks, I wouldn't graduate with my class...'But there's no way I can do that,' I told them. The suits just looked at me. 'You're not a quitter, are you?' one of them said...By the end of the day, [my mother] had found a private academy, Bending Oaks, that was willing to accept me if I took a couple of make-up courses. We transferred all my credits from Plano East, and I got my degree on time."
"Not long ago, Plano East held its 10th reunion. I wasn't invited."
Wish You Were Here
There's been a lot of craziness in the NBA this off-season. Two future Hall of Famers, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, signed with the Lakers. (Why wouldn't they?) Two other future Hall of Famers, Zo Mourning and Jason Kidd, signed with the New Jersey Nets. (Why would they?) The rest of the Western Conference, meanwhile, has been aflutter with various other trades and signings. The rest of the West, that is, save your Dallas Mavericks.
Despite the team's insistence that Dallas is an attractive destination because of both its basketball prowess and its fringe benefits (read: hearty postgame meals and heartier strippers), the Mavs have been all too quiet since the season ended. Their roster is the same today as it was a few months ago after the Spurs bounced them from the Western Conference Finals, and all because the big names chose other places of employment. But they made mistakes. Here's why these players should have signed with Dallas:
Alonzo Mourning (Nets): Because he and Mark Cuban are the same weight
Karl Malone (Lakers): Because he wouldn't be the worst English speaker on the Mavs (see: Antoine Rigaudeau)
Gary Payton (Lakers): Because even at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he'd have been the most intimidating black Mavericks player in team history
Clues for Camp
Training camp is upon us, friends, which means all you loyal Cowboys fans will be packing your cars with kiddies and goodies and making the trek to San Antonio to watch football. Hooray. For you, perhaps, the football is the reason to go--watch the new coach, watch the quarterbacks, maybe even get an autograph. Good for you.
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