Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Delonte West was, for a time, the most interesting man in professional basketball. He was the anti-star — a dogged defender, an able ball handler and an often clutch outside shooter who compensated for his lack of physical size and God-given talent by busting his ass during every second of court time he got. He brought depth and experience to the Mavs' bench, and he brought it on the cheap. But he brought something else too. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, West was real. He talked about his struggles with bipolar disorder. During at least one offseason, he worked construction. But it's his sense of humor we'll miss. His Twitter handle, @CharleeRedz13, was a strange and hilarious window into the mind of a man who once told an ESPN reporter at the Dallas Zoo that he'd just given birth to a baby cheetah. His delightful weirdness may also have had a dark side. The Mavs waived his contract following a still dimly understood "outburst" in the locker room. He finished a lackluster season with the Texas Legends. There are rumors that the Knicks and the Grizzlies are looking at him, but there is no chance that he'll ever don a Mavs' uniform again, and that just makes us sad.
Here's a testament to the power of The Little Ticket: At least one of us at the Observer didn't give a rat's ass about sports until one day more than a decade ago when, bored with the blandness of Clear Channel-dominated music radio, we scanned through the AM frequencies and stopped at what sounded like a half-dozen smartasses talking at once, riffing and one-upping each other on jokes about that date's celebrity birthdays. That segment, "Why Today Doesn't Suck," the daily passing of the baton from lunchtime show BaD Radio to afternoon drive's The Hardline, was chaotic and hilarious then and still is today, even if Line Four Guy is seldom heard lately. We came for the bawdy guy talk and stayed for the hot sports opinions, which range from half-baked to insightful but are always entertaining to hear.
These days, it seems like everything awesome is happening in Oak Cliff. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues; it's all there. Add golf to that list as well, with Stevens Park Golf Course embracing the effortless cool of the city's southern tip. A couple years ago, an $8 million overhaul was done on the course to shake it out of a dormant funk, and the result is majestic. Try your hardest not to stand slack-jawed as you play the 15th hole, with the Dallas skyline teasing your focus away as you hook a drive straight into a clump of trees. Go ahead and hit another, we won't tell anybody.
With the traditional outdoor batting cage slowly fading away from our landscape, one joint has the balls and bats to take things to the next level. D-Bat in Addison offers a slew of indoor cages where you can slug to your heart's content. The rates are pretty cheap and the baseballs are the real deal, so you can do your best one-kneed Adrian Beltre impression without laying down the suicide squeeze on your wallet. They even offer lessons, so if your swing game isn't what it used to be, you'll no longer have to suffer the furtive giggles of vicious packs of 8-year olds.
There are dozens of ways to enjoy the serene expanse of White Rock Lake, but one of the best is renting a kayak from White Rock Paddle Co. and taking it for a spin on the water. Challenge a private-school crew team to a sprint or just go for a leisurely aqua trek by The Bath House Cultural Center, Filter Building or 4009 W. Lawther Drive, better known as the Mount Vernon replica estate. If you take a camera with you, shell out an extra couple bucks for a dry bag. It could save you big time if your boat gets a little tippy.
Here in the city, it's easy to forget there are places within a short drive that are green, quiet and wild. Roughly half an hour from downtown, Cedar Ridge Preserve is 600 acres of pristine hills shot through with some nine miles of surface trails and occasionally challenging terrain. It's densely thicketed with cedar and some huge red oaks. The trail opens up at times on gorgeous vistas of heavily wooded hills and a gleaming Joe Pool Lake. Nobody charges you to get in, but let your innate altruism rule. Give what you can to the maintenance of the preserve.