Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Sadly, this was a helluva race. And, no, smart-ass, Bill Parcells and Buck Showalter didn't even make the ballot. Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones and his trademark whistling left us in March after 43 years entertaining at Cowboys games. Lamar Hunt died in December, capping a remarkable career in which, among countless other highlights, he birthed soccer in Dallas and coined the sorta familiar name "Super Bowl." But the real kick to the crotch came in September when Byron Nelson ascended to the 19th hole. Known as "Lord Byron" for his elegant swing and eloquent manner, Nelson had the greatest single season in the history of golf in 1945 and proceeded to brand his name on the biggest fund-raising tournament on the PGA Tour. The EDS Byron Nelson Classic has raised almost $100 million for charities. Here's hoping Byron's tournament doesn't die with him.
Granted, Jupiter Lanes could automatically win this category for not being located in Lewisville, Allen, Hurst, Euless, Richardson, Garland, Mesquite or Addison. We are urban bowlers, after all, and we like to roll on urban lanes amongst our urban brethren. Luckily for us, the 20 lanes at Jupiter just got a million-dollar facelift, so we can watch Frankie Goes to Hollywood videos on projection screens and dance in the black light just like the suburbanites, only without the drive and in a much hipper fashion, naturally. But don't fret, bowling purists, the Disneyland bowling is limited to weekend evenings, so you still have five nights to enjoy 10 or 20 frames and two or three White Russians without having the chorus of "Relax" stuck in your head.
He's not only the best coach in our area, he's the best in the state. At any level. In any sport. Why else would Dodge be handed the keys to Denton? Already a suburban legend, he's a no-nonsense coach who's perfected a silly offense. At Southlake Carroll High School, Dodge's spread system scored 40 points a game, went 79-1 (the only loss coming by one point, 16-15, to Katy in the 2003 title game), won four championships in five years and cattle-prodded Texas high-school coaches to send their cherished dive plays and option pitches the way of Barbaro, Tony Soprano and the Arcadia Theater. Brain-washed by Bill Parcells' mind games and monotone game plans, we've almost ignored Dodge. North Texas hasn't. The Eagles realize that the same high school producing five consecutive State Offensive Players of the Year isn't coincidence. It's coaching.
While hands—recall all those Terrell Owens drops and Tony Romo's bobbled snap—eventually killed the Cowboys, it was a foot that kept them alive all season. Punters don't get shit. No groupies. No max contracts. No endorsements. Unless, that is, they have a season like McBriar. An Aussie by way of Hawaii, he became the first Cowboys punter to earn a trip to the Pro Bowl since Ron Widby in 1971. Watching McBriar's quirky backspin ball is the coolest thing this side of seeing that one-armed stripper over at The Clubhouse. His 48.2-yard average led the NFL, was the league's highest in 43 years and smashed Dallas' franchise record. Two things stand out about McBriar's season: His 75-yard punt against Houston that rolled out of bounds at the 2-yard line and the even more amazing feat of generating consistent praise from Bill Parcells.
Hailing from Ghana via Virginia, Dominic Oduro debuted with FC Dallas in 2006. Now, we could give you stats and play background and all that stuff, but the most important thing about this fine forward is that he has a helluva lot of heart. He trains long and hard, lives in team housing, eats at the field and has been separated from his family thanks to the meager pay that comes with being a truly dedicated and underappreciated soccer player. The Birdman is the ultimate team player, as anyone who's ever watched the Hoops can attest. He doesn't hog the ball, he's eagle-eyed and lightning fast. He's also responsible for one of the most exciting goals we've seen live all year. The Galaxy can have Beckham; we have our superstar with soul in Oduro.
Having nurtured All-Around World Gymnastics Champs Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin, Plano's World Olympic Gymnastics Academy is probably, technically, a more productive gym. But, dude, Lifetime Fitness at Legacy and Preston has palm trees! And a giant outdoor swimming pool, complete with slides and fountains and a poolside café with waitress service. Seriously, this place is more five-star resort than two-a-day workout. Amenities, abs. Amenities, abs. Hmm. Choices, choices. There's a spa, locker rooms adorned with big-screen TVs, a computer center and even a rock-climbing wall. And if you want to go retro, there's also a weight room. Best of all, after your rigorous day of pampering it's just a short drive up to Martini Park and The Shops at Legacy, where you can undo all the work you just did.
Accepting the award on behalf of Mr. Galloway is his long-time co-author, Jose Cuervo. For years Galloway has cultivated a loyal following of Fort Worth Star-Telegram readers by being at once caustic, folksy, ballsy and good ol' boys-y. Best thing about Randy is his love for horses and lack of sacred cows. Ditto this year, when he intermittently ripped Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, Mavs owner Mark Cuban and—after predicting an 81-81 season in April—called in June for the Rangers to "... blow it all up. If the philosophy is to start over, then start totally over, and begin at the top with [general manager Jon] Daniels." Galloway isn't always right, nor is he the best writer. But, in an indictment of the metroplex's pathetically weak mainstream voices, he speaks loudly and carries a powerful pen mostly because he expresses strong, easily identifiable opinions.
On a station that delivers as much shtick as sports, Norm sticks out like Renoir amongst the kids coloring outside the lines on their Chuck E. Cheese menus. He's overdramatic, underappreciated and, ultimately, as endearing as enduring. When he's not busy being Gordon Keith's punching bag, the 60-something without an iPhone, MySpace page or a care in the world about being cool asks the old-school, tough questions of local poobahs such as Avery Johnson, Jerry Jones and Ron Washington. He spews unparalleled passion, whether toward his NFL draft board, weekly Picks of the Pole, some lame name game or his annual Normathon, an 18-hour event raising $250,000 for the Austin Street Centre for the homeless. He's quirky and nauseating and entertaining and informational, all stuffed into a peppy Polish caricature of himself. In other words, he's Norm.
Only one guy is good enough, cool enough, smug enough and—did we say good enough?—to interrupt his own nightly radio show with his own nightly TV show. He doesn't have Mike Doocy's hair or Newy Scruggs' hipness or Babe Laufenberg's history, but Hansen still has the metroplex mesmerized by being both plugged in and unplugged. On KESN-103.3 FM ESPN, Hansen is brash enough to keep us listening. And on Channel 8, he's smart enough to hire Erin Hawksworth and keep us watching. Though old enough to remember when the Hard Rock opened and when Deep Ellum was cool, he's still got it. We wonder, though, with Bill Parcells no longer around, if Hansen will continue his harsh criticism, bullish opinions and brutal honesty on all things Cowboys. Of course, we also wonder if his flirty verbal jousts with weatherman Pete Delkus secretly drove Troy Dungan into early retirement.
It's almost impossible to remember what the NBA's MVP did right for six months because of all he did wrong for six games. Sorta like Zac Crain and Kinky Friedman had some good ideas for a while, right? In the humiliating playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors, Dirk was soft, passive and even had his attitude questioned by coach Avery Johnson in a series in which he produced only three magical minutes. When he accepted the MVP trophy as the first Euro, first Maverick and first winner not to get his team out of the first round in 25 years, it was bittersweet if not altogether hollow. The award, thankfully, is for the regular season. And from November to April, Dirk averaged 24 points, nine rebounds and was undoubtedly the best player on the league's best team.
For those of you who only visit White Rock Lake on a lazy Sunday afternoon, this may come as a bit of a surprise, but the most crowded the park ever gets is at six in the morning every day, except during our four-week winter. That's when the Dallas' marathon training groups flock to the park to beat the summer heat or just work out before work. Serious-looking cyclists, often in ravenous packs of 30 to 40 riders, also hit the lake, making the 9.3-mile loop their own personal Tour de France. On weekends, you'll even encounter traffic jams at the park's entrances before the sun has started to rise and a road race or two along the lake shortly thereafter. It's a strangely fascinating sight to see that many people working out furiously so early in the morning, but then again, where else are they going to go? Maybe if we had a park along the Trinity, say without a toll road?
How the hell can a guy who fired Tom Landry and signed Terrell Owens ever make it up to Cowboys fans? Simple. Super Bowl XLV. While Mark Cuban was lobbing lawsuits with Don Nelson, and Tom Hicks was spending more of his money on English soccer and less on his local losers, Jones dug $350 million out of his own pocket to build a $1 billion stadium and attract the 2011 Super Bowl to Arlington. At times during his reign more conniving than Elizabeth Albanese, Jones these days—along with sidekick closer Roger Staubach—seems capable of bringing peace to the Middle East. He meddles. He finagles. But most of all, he cares. More than football, the new stadium is the world's most profound act of vanity. Until, that is, the day he names himself head coach. Tick...tick...tick...