Maybe it wasn't Moody Madness, but no denying it was a Love affair. When the Mavericks toppled the Spurs in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals last May, Dallas went all High School Musical giddy over its hoops. A couple thousand fans--waiting for a basketball title in Dallas since Sanger met Harris--showed up at Love Field around midnight to welcome the team's charter plane home from San Antonio. It's the kind of reception usually reserved for the Cowboys arriving or Laura Miller leaving. The Mavs sold out every game in 2005-'06, pushing their sellout streak to 4 1/2 years and 194 consecutive regular-season games. Just as impressive, when Jason Terry got suspended a game for sucker-punching the Spurs' Michael Finley, Mavs fans--even former owners Don Carter and Ross Perot Jr.--showed up at American Airlines Center wearing his No. 31 jersey in unwavering support. Bravo.
It wasn't the most direct or devastating blow, but it was the most notable. And given the pussy-foot punches thrown by Evander Holyfield against Jeremy Bates and by Rangers reliever Scott Feldman against Angels infielder Adam Kennedy, Mavericks guard Jason Terry's quick jab to the jewels of San Antonio's Michael Finley was the most powerful punch of the year. Except, that is, for the fruit-bowl concoction that sneaked up on us at the W Hotel sneak preview party, but we digress. Meanwhile, Terry's sucker slap was so obscure we didn't even catch it live on TV. After a day of the NBA league office studying tape and Finley sitting on an ice pack, however, Terry was suspended for one game. And, somehow, Finley turned into the least deserving Public Enemy No. 1 in Dallas history.
Funny--no, make that creepy--that the most memorable Rangers play of the season almost never happens in a Rangers game. Like Hank Blalock's All-Star Game-winning homer in 2003 or All-Star Game MVP Alfonso Soriano's three-run blast off Roger Clemens in '04, Michael Young's two-out, two-run, game-winning triple in last summer's All-Star Game is again the team's defining moment. On an underachieving team dragged down by the delusions of owner Tom Hicks and the morose managerial style of Buck Showalter, Young again provided one of the few reasons not to give up on baseball and instead waste our lives making appointments for "non-therapeutic" massages on our Blackberrys. He has a better game--but not better highlights--than teammate Gary Matthews Jr. and better stats--but not a better Q rating--than Yankees' shortstop Derek Jeter. Reminding us that it's still possible to be good off the field without a posse and good on the field without steroids, Young is the only reason left to make the trek to Arlington.
Stay with us on this one, because it's tricky. A legendary broadcaster already in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame and someday headed for the Cowboys' Ring of Honor, Sham is these days putting pen to paper at DallasCowboys.com. This award, of course, is as much an indictment of the area's pathetically weak mainstream voices as it is Sham's considerable talent. In a local sports-writing landscape that has deteriorated into a predictably boring Chili's menu, columnists such as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Randy "Big Bill" Galloway and The Dallas Morning News' Tim "Boy, Will Ferrell Sure Is Funny" Cowlishaw routinely roll out painfully obvious "Life: Good; Death: Bad" drivel. Sham, meanwhile, is constructing a nice hobby as an insider with insight. Read Sham's columns, for example, and learn why former Cowboy Larry Allen wears No. 71 in San Francisco (to honor Mark Tuinei). Sham is one of the few journalists with the balls to ask Bill Parcells a tough question and the cred to criticize the coach when he doesn't give an honest answer.
Who else among you dares to refer to Bill Parcells as "a dick"? He doesn't have Mike Doocy's hair, Babe Laufenberg's history or Newy Scruggs' hipness, but Dale Hansen still has the metroplex mesmerized because he is both plugged in and unplugged. Because of personal and professional conflicts with the team, Hansen admits his WFAA-Channel 8 is pulling back on its Cowboys coverage this season. That in no way, however, means Hansen will tug the reins on his bullish opinions or brutal honesty. He kicked off training camp in Oxnard, California, by directing football-specific questions to owner Jerry Jones instead of coach Parcells. "I did it mostly because he's a dick," Hansen said of Parcells. "Trust me, Channel 8 is through doing positive stories on the Cowboys." Stay tuned. We know you will.
The impetus behind the raucous run by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks last spring? Um, turns out there was a girl in the boys' room. But not that kind. This kind: Throughout the playoffs Dr. Collings laid her healing hands upon Dirk's aching back in a crack-ya-bones sorta chiropractic way. But Collings, a '93 graduate of Dallas' Parker College and founder of Las Colinas Spine & Sports Medicine, didn't just work her magic on Dirk. Last year alone she treated the Stars' Steve Ott and Jason Arnott, Cowboys punter Matt McBriar, ESPN's Darren Woodson, PGA player Brandt Jobe, actor Chuck Norris, singer Alanis Morissette and even the Highland Park High School "Belles" drill team. During the Mavs' playoff push and into the NBA Finals, Nowitzki was a weekly visitor to Collings' Las Colinas office. Said Collings, "It was rewarding to have a small hand in his success." Just to prove she also possesses talented feet, next month Collings will run a marathon in Washington, D.C.
They go to Bob's Steak & Chop House when they're hungry. They flitter over to Dragonfly at Hotel ZaZa when they want to get their drink on. But when rich and famous athletes want to hunker down and watch sports over a cold beer in a hot spot, they congregate at Ten. In its first year at the corner of Main and Field streets, the downtown sports bar hosted such celebs as Steve Nash (who stopped by to watch some English soccer), Charles Barkley (who stopped by to watch some NBA Playoffs) and Shaquille O'Neal (who stopped by because he knew he'd be recognized, but not mobbed). Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Eduardo Najera and even the band Puddle of Mudd have come in for fun and games in recent months. With nine high-def plasmas, a prime location adjacent to Adolphus Hotel and owners such as Chad Lewis (former Mavericks strength coach) and Mark Oman (current Nash buddy), Ten has somehow become Seven plus 8.0.
What FC Roma accomplished over the summer was akin to your beer-league softball team beating the Texas Rangers. Check that, considering the Rangers' annual summer meltdown, it's even more of an upset. Think Dane Cook actually being funny or Tom DeLay: Role Model. Roma, a collection of has-been Dallas Sidekicks and never-were no-names led by 46-year-old goalie Nestor Merlo, became the first amateur soccer team to beat a professional side from Major League Soccer when it toppled Chivas USA in the third round of the prestigious U.S. Open Cup in June. If it wasn't soccer, the upset would've made national news. Instead, it's just a footnote reminding us that, yes, Rocky and Invincible can still strike in today's environment. Roma's run ended when it lost in the fourth round to the perennial MLS power Los Angeles Galaxy. And when Cinderella awoke? Roma's players didn't make quite as much money as Exxon/Mobil, but they did get to temporarily stop practicing at sunrise before heading off to real jobs.
First of all, let's correct last year's error that inexplicably awarded this distinction to the ugly and oft-interrupted Katy Trail and recognize that the best place to run in Dallas will always be White Rock Lake Park. Even on the busiest Sunday morning when every Lance Armstrong wannabe and hobby jogger is crammed into a suddenly narrow path, even when the lake is flooded and trash spills out onto the shore, even when the sun is setting on a summer day and teams of ravenous mosquitoes are looking to extract a pint of blood from anyone dumb enough to still be outside, White Rock Lake remains a runner's paradise. Name another park, not just in Dallas but in any big city in the country, where you can run nine miles--or more if you meander around the surrounding trails--and never have to move over for a car? Or another park that has water fountains, spray machines and markers for every half mile? Plus, if you run in the evening and if you're lucky, you might possibly be able to partake of a little secondhand marijuana courtesy of the random idling economy car blasting the Doors' "Riders on the Storm." At White Rock Lake, there's more than one way to get your runner's high.
To whitewater snobs, the phrase "Dallas whitewater" might seem like an oxymoron, sort of like "desert snorkeling" or "honest politician." But anybody who saw the White Rock spillway this spring saw some ferocious waves that few kayakers would tackle. What most people don't know is that after any sizable rain, the creek that fills the lake at the other end is suddenly festooned with surfable waves and tricky holes that allow experienced boaters to strut their stuff (spectators can check them out at the great play spot where Forest Lane crosses the creek). Sure, it's no Grand Canyon, but it beats driving to Arizona.

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