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What, you expected Tom Hicks? The Dallas Mavericks boss continues to do everything he can to put his basketball team in both the limelight and a position to win. Last season he helped host an NBA All-Star Game that drew a record crowd of 108,000 to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. He made the gutsy mid-season trade for Caron Butler and just this summer casually coughed up $3 million so his team could move up in the draft to select shooting guard Dominique Jones. And, of course, we can't forget his public feud with former Mavs owner Ross Perot Jr. Anyone who makes the rich look that silly gets our vote. Wait, he is the rich.
We proletarians out here in the cheap seats love us some baseball, but what we love even more is watching really rich guys fight over the size of their wallets. Petty jealousy you say? Oh, yeah, and it's deeeelicious. Num. So when an ownership group led by out-of-town rich guy Chuck Greenberg and local good ol' boy Nolan Ryan agreed to buy the Rangers in January from not-as-rich-as-he-used-to-be guy Tom Hicks, we knew something good was in store. The fun started when lenders owed around $600 million by Hicks Sports Group claimed they weren't getting paid enough from the sale. This forced Hicks to place the team into bankruptcy, where attorneys for the lenders successfully argued in federal court for an auction of the team, which brought rich-as-God-and-a-little-strange Mark Cuban and his fat checkbook into the picture. After bidding aggressively, Cuban and partner Jim Crane bowed out 16 hours after the scheduled auction time to a standing ovation. Not only did the lenders get the extra dough they'd hoped for, but Greenberg and Ryan kept the team. Cuban was gracious in defeat, leaving Tom Hicks the day's loser.
In the waning seconds of the Dallas Cowboys' 34-14 playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on January 9 in Arlington, veteran linebacker Keith Brooking approached head coach Wade Phillips and playfully yanked the monkey off his back. You could say a lot of things about Phillips and quarterback Tony Romo, but after that win you could no longer refer to them as losers. Felix Jones' 73-yard touchdown sealed the rout, Dallas' first post-season victory since December of 1996. In the giddy locker room owner Jerry Jones exclaimed, "The demons are what? Gone!" RIP, bastards.
It's hard to imagine now, but much of Dallas County was once farmland. Walking amongst the quaint barns and farmhouses of Penn Farm Agricultural History Center, it's a little easier to envision, however, with the peaceful sounds of birdsong and the quiet creaking of an old windmill serving as reminders of what our city lost along the way. Founded by John Wesley Penn in 1859, the farm stayed in the family for more than a century before eventually becoming part of Cedar Hill State Park. In a way, it's still a family farm, with lots of kids, graduates, young couples and proud parents taking advantage of the old buildings and bluebonnets for portraits every spring. Visit on a weekday afternoon and you might be the only person there, however—just make sure not to spook the black vultures we found nesting in the barn.
OK, we were wrong. With last season's 11-5 record, NFC East championship and playoff-game victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the guy we labeled "Dead Man Coaching" not only made it through the season but also became a winning head coach. Phillips took over as defensive coordinator in 2009 and his unit allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL. His press conferences still feed into our narcolepsy and he starts almost every friggin' answer with "Well, um." But the head coach who lost 40 pounds in the off-season also got the monkey off his back last season. With a 33-15 record and two division titles in three years, it's hard to call him "Stumbledoofus" anymore. So we'll give it a rest.
We followed around 16-year-old Jesuit junior Jordan Spieth, Dallas' next great golfer, at last spring's HP Byron Nelson Classic. Gotta admit, one of the coolest scenes we've experienced at a sporting event in a long time. The promise. The adrenaline. The talent. The hope. Spieth's gallery—concerned with popped-collar Polos more than etiquette—was refreshing. And it took Spieth, who flirted within three shots of the lead on Sunday before a costly double-bogey on 15, exactly one swing to prove he belonged with the big boys. His first drive was striped 300-plus down the middle of the fairway, past his pro playing partners. He finished at 4-under, with expectations for his future bubbling way over.
Just when we were wrapping our hearts and minds around Dallas-bred soccer idol Kenny Cooper, he up and goes overseas to play real futbol. Like my grandma used to say, "Nothing wrong with leftovers." And so it is with Colombian-born midfielder David Ferreira. In just his second season playing up at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Ferreira scored four goals during FC Dallas' mid-season six-game unbeaten streak and earned his first Major League Soccer All-Star appearance. Professional soccer still isn't popular out in the 'burbs, but with Ferreira FC Dallas has a chance to do something that transcends sports and cities—win.