Some of us around here are of the less-Christian persuasion, and we belong to the JCC; kinda have to, though not as much as you did only a few years back. We can tell that from the rather empty addition that recently opened at the JCC--the sprawling new sports facility that includes two indoor pools (one heated for the very young and very old, one built for the more lap-swimming-inclined), a great indoor track and all the high-tech workout amenities you need to keep pace with the hipper gyms these days. Technically, the place is called the "Medical City Natatorium and Fitness Complex at the J," since Medical City was partner in the place, and you'd think with that powerhouse behind it, the complex would be packed. Not so much. We have our theories: Goyim think you need to be Jewish to belong, or they just don't know about the place, since it's being marketed as well as bacon and cheese sandwiches at a Chabad House. Really, people: Sure, it's not quite the same as working out at Premier Club; fewer MILFs, more migrs, but still.
It's like picking our favorite child. Or choosing just one Basia ballad to squeeze onto the iPod. Dallas Desperados quarterback Clint Dolezel threw 11 touchdowns in one game. Area teams swept the Class 5A, 4A and 3A boys' high school basketball championships in Austin. And the Dallas Cup soccer tournament hosted a spunky team from war-torn Iraq. But nothing made us feel more alive--like we'd arrived--than the Mavs' 119-111 overtime victory over the hated Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals last May 22. The Mavs advanced to the Finals and got within 6:30 of a 3-0 lead over the Miami Heat, but there wasn't a bigger combo of relief/joy than eliminating the Spurs. It started with Dirk Nowitzki's gutsy drive to the basket and three-point play in the last minute of regulation. We were all Dallas in Wonderland. Our star had matured. Our team had finally conquered its nemesis. This just had to be our year. And then, with an assist from Mayor Laura Miller's premature plans for a parade, the biggest collapse since Bob Dole ran out of Viagra.
Like 9-year-olds with acute ADD, we were all fixated on the firing of SMU basketball coach Jimmy Tubbs. Then--lookie, over here!--we got totally distracted by Matt Doherty. Cool! Sure it's silly and even unfair that Tubbs was sent packing for simply giving players free hamburgers and laundry detergent. But Doherty? We've actually heard of him! He may turn out to be the worst fad since ciabatta bread, but he did play with Michael Jordan and coach at North Carolina and Notre Dame. He gives the Mustangs instant cred, if not immediate success. The impact? Doherty, who boldly calls SMU the "Duke of Dallas," has put the Ponies back on the basketball map for the first time since John Koncak lumbered around Moody Coliseum. New athletic director Steve Orsini says the school has already raised 80 percent of the $13 million needed for a new practice facility. Illegal or otherwise, Tubbs couldn't have pulled that rabbit out of his hat.
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.

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