I was already excited about the 2004-2005 Dallas Mavericks before they traded for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk recently. And by "already," I mean about two minutes after they crashed and burned against eventual champs the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals. My lady and I bought partial season tickets (23 sweet, sweet games) as soon as we could, and even though our meager salaries could only afford said tix if they were in the nosebleed seats, we're still pretty excited. As in paint-your-face, scream-yourself-hoarse, hands-numb-from-clapping excited. The guy who sits directly behind us has taken some of the edge off, since he shuts up only long enough to breathe: "Brick...brick...brick...brick...brick...that's ours...that's ours." If he hadn't had a 4-year-old with him, a cup of beer might have accidentally spilled over our shoulders at some point.But we'll put up with the annoyances so we can ride shotgun on the "Dallas Mavericks: World Champs" bandwagon. Can they actually pull that off? Eh, maybe. As it stands, the Mavs are poised to be the most prolific offensive team in NBA history, with a roster that includes the Big Three (Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki) and, thanks to some off-season trades, the Big Other Two (Antawn Jamison and Walker). Bonus: There's only one stiff on the team (Shawn Bradley) now that Raef LaFrentz has been shipped to the Celtics.
Against the Utah Jazz, they could maybe go for 160, or at least match the 82 points they rang up on the Kings in the playoffs (a.k.a. The Best Half of Basketball Ever). Since last season, the Jazz have lost first-ballot Hall of Famers Karl Malone (to the Lakers via free agency) and John Stockton (to retirement via his antique body) and replaced them with...well, not much. They do have former Mav Raja Bell (he of the quiet-storm 'stache) on the team now, as well as Mav-killer Keon Clark. But that's a bit like replacing a V6 with a lawn mower motor. I could probably start for the new-look Jazz, and I was just good enough to play for the Dallas Observer's rec-league team. The game is 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 to $253 from Ticketmaster, 214-373-8000. --Zac Crain
On the Spit
Tune in for Hansen
There are few constants in a city as capricious as Dallas. The steaks are good. The beer is cold. The weather is hot. That's about it. Well, maybe add one more to that list: Dale Hansen will be on the air broadcasting sports for WFAA-Channel 8, and he'll do a fine job while he's at it. It's been 20 years now that we've been inviting the big, burly, gravel-voiced Hansen into our living rooms to tell us what's right with the Mavs or what's (terribly) wrong with the Rangers. During that time, he also broke one of the biggest stories in sports journalism history, helping expose Southern Methodist University's dirty football program (and thereafter resigning the school to many years of futility). To celebrate his career, WFAA is throwing the man a roast. Among the roasters (is that a word?) will be Jerry Jones, Mike Modano, Brad Sham, Ralph Strangis, Joe Avezzano, PGA analyst David Feherty, Andrea Joyce, Gerry Oher and Rolando Blackman. No word on whether a contingent of well-wishing Mustangs will be in attendance. The event will be held Thursday at Hill Performance Hall. Doors close at 7:50 p.m. for the television taping. Tickets range from $10 to $35 and will help benefit Dallas Can! Academy. Call 972-744-4650.--John Gonzalez
Kick-start My Heart
Remember when a girl taking her shirt off in front of thousands of people meant something? The joy that was previously exclusive to hair-metal concerts and Mardi Gras drunkenness turned into boring, mainstream fare after Mia Hamm's 1999 Women's World Cup bra-tacular celebration. Soon enough, girls started throwing their shirts off all over the place, and damn if the bit didn't get a little played out. Couldn't even go to Starbucks without a tank top landing in our latte. See, at Night & Day, we're all about the soccer. Toplessness is a mere distraction from thrilling throw-ins, superb slide-tackles and righteous red cards. The U.S. Women's National Team delivers this sort of soccer excellence in spades, evidenced by its top-three placing in the past four Women's World Cups, and the ladies play on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, 3750 Midway Plaza in Fair Park, against the Mexican National Team. The team hasn't been through the metroplex since 1995, so don't miss a rare opportunity to see American soccer players who can actually beat the world. Shirts optional. Call Ticketmaster at 214-373-8000. --Sam Machkovech
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Run for your life (and others' lives, too)
The idea of having a race to benefit the American Red Cross Blood Services on Halloween called the Vampire Run is kind of clever, but the wisdom of the event is questionable. Race organizers want people to donate blood between 1 a.m. and 8 p.m. Then participants are supposed to run a 5K race, which is a little more than three miles. After the race, event sponsor Michelob Ultra Lite will be on hand to get people hooked on its new low-carb beer. Don't blood collectors normally tell you to take it easy for the rest of the day after you donate? After running, aren't you supposed to replace bodily fluids with water and fruit juices? Does giving blood, strenuous exercise and alcohol seem like a bad combination? The Vampire Run may not be the most logical race, but it still should be fun, with a costume contest, music from the disco cover band Le Freak and awards for the fastest runners. It's Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the West End at Record and Ross. Entry is $20 in advance or $25 on race day. Call 214-821-0909 or visit www.vampirerun.com. --Jay Webb