A friend was once asked what he would do if he won a lottery amount that would give him more money than he could ever spend. He said, "I'd travel around the country and pay strangers to do stupid things for money." It was a moment that foreshadowed the coming of billionaire Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Dallas' own Magic Christian. On the air, Cuban offered to pay Ticket radio personality Gordon Keith more than a $125K (with half of that going to charity) if he would legally change his name to Dallas Maverick for one year. Gordon agreed to do so, then reneged (a.k.a. "chickened out"), saying a name is sacred. We think that means Keith makes way too much money. Again, the offer stands: We'd change our name to Markcuban's Bitch if he'd offer us the same deal.

Best Dallas athlete with Olympic record-breaking ambition

Michael Johnson

Speed. Dedication. Endurance. Endorsements. These are the traits of the modern Olympic athlete. Is it such a departure from the Greek tradition? After all, the word "athlete" is an ancient Greek term for "prize-seeker." Greek athletes would be set for life if they brought back honor from the games, including lifetime pensions and immense status. Athletes could also be bought and sold, like cattle or NFL kickers. The concept of "amateur athletics" was only developed in the 19th century. Wasn't this item supposed to be about Michael Johnson? Well, who cares? Haven't we heard enough about him already?

Yeah, none of us are students either, but if you can sneak in there (like we do), then it's the best pick-up ball in Dallas. Here's how you get in: Invest in an SMU T-shirt. When you walk in the doors and meet the ID checkers eye to eye, confidently say "Hey" and walk right on in like you own the place.
He faded late in the year, when the strain of trying to carry a leaden team became too much, but he was still the lone standout veteran among this disappointing bunch. But before then, he was his usual bulldog self, finding ways to win games, even when he didn't have his best stuff. (At press time, he'd won 15 games on a bad team. And yes, Ivan Rodriguez was his usual stud self this year, but he will have missed the last third or so of the season with a bum thumb.) Hell, even Helling's best stuff isn't that great--average fastball, a breaking ball that hangs too often--but the man just battles. It's remarkable when you consider that he was once traded by the Rangers and that, after he returned, stubborn automaton manager Johnny Oates didn't give him the credit he deserved until this year. Helling never let it get to him, never lashed out at the hordes that doubted him. Which makes it all the more inconceivable that Helling was booed by Rangers fans after one bad game this year. Hey, idiots, news flash: If everyone gave the effort Helling did, perhaps the Rangers wouldn't have languished in last place for much of the year.

It's easy to forget what it was like watching the Dallas Stars before the Parkay-smooth Zubov arrived: panicked defensemen, rushing to move the puck up ice, either missing sticks with errant passes or turning the puck over trying to skate up ice themselves. Now, watch Zubov with the puck when he gets it in his own zone. He never hurries, making small dekes and turning to free himself and get behind the net...then, he starts up ice, gliding, juking one way then turning the other, faking out defenders easily. When he wants to make a pass, he does so perfectly, on the move, tape-to-tape. On a team committed to defense, he makes the offense go. Mike Modano gets the pub for his goal scoring and assists, and he is truly a special player. But star scorers can be neutralized by putting the other teams' best defensive player on them, which often happens with Modano. Derian Hatcher is a force defensively, but when he is out, the Stars can cover for him with Richard Matvichuk or other big, burly defensemen. When Zubov is out, not only does the power play turn ugly--he is its "quarterback"--but so does the five-on-five game. He adds invaluable patience and finesse to the Stars' game, and his skills, on this team, are virtually irreplaceable. Plus, he's a Russki. That's kinda cool.

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