Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 25: Win it for...

I wasn't always a sports fan. People who know me now would be surprised to know how much I was *not* into sports as a child.

In fact, on Sundays in Texas, kids who weren't engrossed in Cowboys football were eyed suspiciously. Football was and is king in the Lone Star.

My parents were into it. On Sundays, I wouldn't say I was banished from the living room TV, but it was a holy place and proper decorum was required at the services.

Curiously I think this might have contributed to my being a sportswriter for a while. The code of conduct in the press box is no cheering allowed, and keep quiet. I like that. I kind of like that even now, when I watch games at home. It's pretty rare for me to go to a sports bar. Several reasons for that:

* Smoke. It's revolting to come home smelling like an ashtray.
* Chatter. If I'm expressly watching one of "my" teams, I've got little interest in talk unrelated to the game.
* "Them." One of my good friends is an Iggles fan. Otherwise he's a nice guy. We get along pretty well, even when our teams are facing off. But in a bar setting where there could be a group of Cowboys haters or worse, it's just intolerable. There's already so much ignorance in the world, I can't stand to see it en masse.
* Cost. The cold beverages at my house are cheaper. The seats are better.
* Perks. No waiting to use the bathroom. Rarely anyone barfing.

It's going to be hard to keep this one short. I'll try and steer it back into the fast lane...

My first Cowboys game was Don Meredith's last game. Cowboys fans will know what that means. I cried when Texas Stadium was destroyed. I saw games in Arlington Stadium before the Rangers arrived. I interviewed Nolan Ryan. I played hoops with Spud Webb. I asked an impertinent question of Tom Landry. Was in the locker room with sports legends such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Bo Jackson, Cal Ripken, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Mike Modano. Baseball allowed me to meet George W. Bush. Sports has been good to me.

I've seen future superstars when they played high school ball. Saw the Stars' first Stanley Cup win in Texas. Saw Clemens vs. Ryan. First game at The Ballpark.

And I saw the first Mavericks game. Tonight, they can win a championship for the first time. I'm really hoping for it.

In 2004, when the Boston Red Sox were one win away from overcoming a 3-0 hole against the New York Yankees, a fan Web site called Sons of Sam Horn began a thread that wound up in Cooperstown. The OP knew that 86 years of failure were on the verge of being erased. Long-suffering BoSox fans (I consider myself one in absentia... Dewey Evans was one of my favorite players and I once posed for a made-up baseball card wearing a Sox jersey) swarmed to the post, citing who they wanted the Sox to win the series for. It was heartbreakingly beautiful.

The Mavericks don't have 86 years of failure, yet. They have never been this close, though. They blew a 2-0 lead to Miami in 2006 under some difficult circumstances.

I was at the first Mavericks game. They beat San Antonio for one of their 15 wins that first season. George "Iceman" Gervin scored 33 points.

Mavs, win this thing tonight. Win it for...

* My brother, who went to that first game with me and who sat by me for years when we had season tickets at Reunion Arena. He was a really good high school basketball player and got me interested in the game for the first time.
* My mom, who loves sports and got me interested in participating rather than just reading about things. She is also the person who bought stadium bonds for my brother and I so that we could become Mavs fans.
* Dirk, who is everything a professional athlete should be. He's humble, honest, respectful and hard-working. Other than talent-wise, he's the polar opposite of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He's earned this.
* Jason Kidd, an all-time great and (like Dirk) a certain Hall-of-Famer. This is his last shot.
* Mark Cuban. Despite his money, it's clear that he's a fan. Here's what fans want from owners: commit to winning. Cuban's always wanted to win and truly put his money where his mouth is.

C'mon Mavs. End this.

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