Once again, this doughnut of a team (big hole in the middle) proved that what it lacks in muscle it makes up for in heart. Led by the clutch play of Nick Van Exel (see below), the Mavs proved once again they're the best ticket in town.

The Dallas Mavs owner often has doled out his cash in stupid ways (see Shawn Bradley, Raef LaFrentz, et al.), but the Fallen Patriot Fund, established in April by The Mark Cuban Foundation, is money well spent. (He kicked off the fund with a $1 million donation, and he matches all donations dollar for dollar up to 1 million bucks.) Designed to help families of military personnel killed or seriously injured in Iraq, the fund is a great example of putting your money where your mouth is.

The Bronco Bowl Entertainment Center, a family-fun staple for decades, passed away in August after battling a lengthy illness. Best known for its concerts, the complex was once one of the primary Texas outposts for televised bowling matches back in the day, and continued on as the premier place to rack up a few frozen turkeys until its death. It also had an extensive assortment of video arcade games, air hockey tables and Pop-A-Shot stations, as well as a wide variety of beverages that would get a man as big as 325 pounds "drunker than Cooter Brown," according to a longtime fan of the establishment. The Bronco Bowl Entertainment Center is survived by memories of $10 parking fees and a Home Depot.
Brookhaven Campus
One of the best things about Brookhaven's jogging track is the lack of crowds that afflict that other top jogging spot, White Rock Lake, so keep this one just between us. Brookhaven's two-mile course skirts the perimeter of the campus, and nearly half of it has a rubberized surface, so it's tender on the joints. The track winds through small patches of woods and past the school's athletic fields, offering a few gentle inclines to get that heart rate up. Better still, there are emergency call boxes along the route in the event you are: A) over 40, B) out of shape and C) too stupid to consult your doctor before beginning a running regimen.
After Nick Van Exel's gutsy performances in the playoffs, ESPN's Marc Stein asked Mark Cuban about NVE's big-game aptitude. "You can't say enough about Nick," Cuban replied. "I don't know how he walks around. I'm sure he has to get specially tailored pants, because he's scraping the ground every game." In other words, if you take the shots with the game on the line, it proves you have big balls. We couldn't agree (or be disturbed) more.

The area's best non-high school football team does not play at Texas Stadium. (Gee, ya think?) It is not the SMU Mustangs. (Gosh, ya sure?) No, the area's best footballers lay claim to Birdville Stadium in North Richland Hills. The Dallas Diamonds, the all-woman semipro football team--led by rookie linebacker/fullback Jessica Springer (the 5-foot-9, 210-pound can of whupass)--has pasted some of its early-season opponents, especially the Missouri Prowlers, whom the homegirls have beaten twice by a combined score of 138-0. Hey, Bill Parcells, you got a scout at their games yet? Couldn't hurt.

Sure, it's no longer brand-spanking-new, and the team that calls it home stinks, but the 49,166-seat stadium is, far and away, the most enjoyable spot for the sports fan to visit. It's comfy and clean, fan friendly and you can't beat the fresh summer air. And, when the Texas Rangers start muffing easy ground balls and the bullpen is doing its el foldo, there's still plenty to see and do. Visit the Legends of the Game Baseball Museum, Children's Learning Center or Friday's Front Row Grill. And the cold beer at the concession stands can quickly take your mind off the team's being in last place--again.
Since we work at the Observer--the unholiest of unholies--talking about God can get a little tricky. No need to pop up on his screen, you understand, lest he take note of all the bad things we've done and issue a collective smiting. Still, we're pretty sure the Big Guy has some other sinners ahead of us on his "to do" list. Chief among them: Deion Sanders. Prime Time recently was taken to court by a Dallas mechanic named Phil Compton, who claimed that Sanders paid only $1,500 of a more-than-$4,200 bill for repairs done on a 1961 convertible. Sanders, who never misses an opportunity to show that he's "down with the Lord," handed Compton a check and said, "Praise Jesus...I follow what in my heart I'm told to pay." The implication, obviously, was that the son of God gives great discounts, but only if you're in his good graces. More remarkably, a judge ruled in favor of Sanders in the case. The end result? A proposed 11th commandment: Thou shalt not pay a lot for that muffler.

It looked fairly bleak for the Dallas Mavericks after the Sacramento Kings pantsed them in Game 1. Here we go again, most thought, remembering the similar drubbings that occurred at the hands of those same Kings in last year's playoffs. Even we gave in and predicted the Mavs would be sent home after five games. And then Dirk Nowitzki and Co. put up 44 in the first quarter of Game 2, on their way to 83 for the half. To put this in perspective, most Eastern Conference games topped out at a few points shy of that mark after four quarters. Only our wedding day tops this on our list of all-time greatest moments. We're not even remotely kidding.

For less than seven bucks, it's possible to revisit that hardwood heaven that was vital to middle school social life. Roller-skating lives on, complete with spinning colored lights and a smooth-voiced DJ, at the White Rock Skate Center. Skates are included in the admission price, although patrons are welcome to bring their own (we've been showing off our pair of pink Puma "Roller Kitties"), provided they've had no concrete exposure, which will mar the rink floor. We're still shocked, though, at what little effort we used to put forth as youngsters, considering how sore and bruised we are after one night of rollin'. Parents can even skate free Sunday afternoons when they bring the little ones. A little advice, though: Don't skate too close to your kids; this could be the day of their first "couple skate," and you could end up on their list if you jeopardize their shot at a rolling slow-jam with the crush-of-the-week. The center also offers a damn fine snack bar with requisite pump-cheese nachos, and the refs put on quite a show mid-rink with their rubber-legged roller dance moves. Exercise, entertainment and memories await those who pass through the White Rock's doors, so strap on those familiar brown and orange wheels and hit the rink. Don't worry if it's been awhile; we're still known to cling to the walls when we get a bit shaky...and our apologies to the small child we careened into during a crazed attempt to get off the floor before the speed-skate.

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