Uh, let's see now, the other candidates were: Buck Showalter, who tried mightily but all for naught; Dave Tippett, who had a fine season but was a bit boring, to tell the truth; and Dave Campo, who...well, he coached the Pokes for a while--let's just leave it at that. So congrats, Nellie, you da man by default. Actually, Nelson would have won anyway. The gregarious Mavericks coach led his charges to the NBA Western Conference Finals, the first time Dallas had advanced that far since 1988. He did that despite the fact he had no interior players worth mentioning and an owner who refused to re-sign him until after the season. He did that, and he was congenial, too, always joking with the media and playing to the crowd. He's our kind of guy. Glad you're coming back, Nellie.

Best Response to a Dumb Sports Question

Dirk Nowitzki

Last season, Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was laid up with an injury. During that period, a reporter from a very well-respected national magazine decided that he wanted to talk to Nowitzki about international basketball--a story that most every sports writer addressed some two years ago. This reporter, being particularly dim and oblivious, also decided to interview Nowitzki after a game instead of during practice hours, which is when the players are 1) more accessible and 2) more affable. This reporter waited more than an hour after the game had ended for Nowitzki to materialize. Most would have taken the hint. This reporter did not. Undeterred, this reporter finally got a moment alone with Nowitzki before asking a question that went something like, "Well, Dirk, how have foreign players changed the NBA?" Nowitzki looked down at this reporter and with a straight, serious face replied, "Oh, that's a good question." Without missing a beat, he immediately gave the reporter a thumbs down sign, stuck his tongue out and, like a child (albeit a very, very funny child), made a "thpppffff" noise.

Our friend has asked us to go on a camping trip with him. We are too embarrassed to tell him that we are scared of the bears/ticks/spiders/mosquitoes/dark, and that we, like Glenn Frey, belong to the city. So we suck it up and go to REI, a place where we can buy so much cool camping gear that we can actually feel like a man again. But that's not all REI offers. If you need cycling wear, fly-fishing stuff or any number of other outdoorsy gadgets, this is the place to go.
The players who show up for Glencoe's all-day Saturday runs are serious, arriving at 9 a.m. with coolers and lawn chairs, digging in for the long haul. The games are just as serious, which makes sense, since if you lose, you lose the court. So don't bring that weak stuff up in here. We say this, because we tried to and left a couple of hours later with wounded pride and a Spalding tattoo on our forehead.

With Frisco now home to so many new and used Dallasites, it is becoming more likely that those of us who fear to tread north of LBJ Freeway will be forced to make the trek someday. To comfort us when we get there, at least during spring and summer, are the freshly transplanted Frisco RoughRiders, the AA farm team for the ever-struggling Texas Rangers. Don't let streets like Tom Hicks Drive and Gaylord Parkway put you off. A handsome stadium that looks as much like a stage set as it does a ballpark puts its capacity 10,800 fans close to the field. Players sign autographs before the game, tickets are reasonable, and a huge mascot that bears a passing resemblance to a prairie dog is even fun to watch. What's more, the team consistently plays good ball, which is more than can be said for its brother in the bigs.

We know, we know: Alex Rodriguez has a $252 million contract, and for that kind of money, he should be able to play all four positions. Whatever. The oldest, most-played, least-interesting gripe about the Texas Rangers is the national media's bitching about A-Rod's contract. Bottom line is that he's also a perennial All-Star, consistently one of the game's top five all-around players. What's even better is that now he has a stellar young group of infielders around him--led by Michael Young, smooth as a pressed shirt, at second base. The corner infielders, Hank Blalock (third base) and Mark Teixeira (first base), should provide the club with hope and home runs for years to come. Now all that's left is a center fielder, a catcher, 11 pitchers...

We here at Best of Dallas Central tried to organize a road trip to Dodge City, Kansas, to catch the final game of this Fort Worth-based minor-league (United States Basketball League) expansion team. Too bad we missed it. The Rim Rockers lost 146-107. It would have been the perfect game to watch, because we wanted to see a team that was so bad it would be entertaining. The Rim Rockers were certainly that. They finished their first season with two wins, 28 losses. Next year, when you see the season-ticket holders in the front row cackling and whooping and cheering every bricked three-point shot, that'd be us. Hey, we were Mavericks fans in the '90s--we love awful ball.

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.

Best Bowling Alley (in Memoriam)

Bronco Bowl

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.

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