Saturday, February 20, 2010

Olympics provide pure emotion

The great thing about the Olympics that we are all able to see is the pure joy and undeniable heartbreak that comes with each Games. It's the pinnacle of competition for sports that stumble into the spotlight once every four years, and each of these athletes has just this one chance to etch their names in the respective anthologies of their sports.

Seeing the Americans dominate the Halfpipe, or watching Lindsey Vonn ski to gold a week after thinking she may not even be able to compete, you don't get this type of high-energy and even higher-emotion any other time than the Olympics.

Consider USA Men's Curling skip John Shuster, whose lucky hat just may not have the magic at these games, and yet I found myself unable to pull away from the tv during the USA-Denmark match. He's had chances to be Michael Jordan and make some game-winners, but instead has turned into Mitch Williams instead. I didn't know who Shuster was a month ago, but now, I wanted to see him and his teammates vindicated with at least one win in Vancouver (less and less likely).

Some will take gold. Others will walk away empty handed. But as spectators we are all treated to the most entertaining two weeks in sports. Each moment is the biggest moment of someone's life, and we get to watch.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

All-Star Game

A few quick thoughts in the recent aftermath of an All-Star night that was representative of the size and pride of Texas:

- With more than 108,000 packed into Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones and Mark Cuban set the attendance record they were after. And by set, I mean SMASH. As Dirk said before the game: everything's bigger in Texas.

- Anyone else sick of Dwyane Wade collecting trophies in Dallas? He hoisted the O'Brien Trophy in 2006 at the American Airlines Center, and tonight took home hardware as the All-Star Game MVP.

- The West had a chance to win with 5 seconds left, but Carmelo Anthony's 3-point look suffered from blurry vision. Gotta believe that Denver coach George Karl wanted his guy to get that last shot rather than drawing up something for Dirk to attempt a game-winning three. Seriously, who would you rather have attempting a game-winner? Carmelo is a great player, a rightful All-Star, but Dirk should have been the one taking that shot. They never even tried to get him the ball.

- As pathetic a showing there was for the All-Star Saturday Night festivities, that's truly how grand tonight was. Jerry Jones sure knows how to throw a party. I wonder what that place will be like a year from now when Cowboys Stadium hosts Super Bowl XLV.

- Kudos to Mavs owner Mark Cuban for sticking to his guns of only wanting to host an All-Star game if he could get a seat for all the Mavs fans. Mission accomplished. With room for 108,713 to pack Cowboys Stadium, Cuban was able to host any and all Mavericks season ticket holders who wanted to get a seat. No special lottery or drawings necessary. As a North Texas sports fan, it's hard to picture any city with a pair of owners as great at Cuban and Jones.

Dirk's Weekend

The NBA's All-Star Game takes place at the Dallas Cowboys palace later this evening. Yet in a North Texas region so devout about its football, this weekend will most likely end up being a celebration of the region's greater NBA player.

Dirk Nowitzki is the defacto host of the All-Star game, the lone Mavericks representative on the Western Conference roster (before Jason Kidd replaced an injured Kobe Bryant). And it's been giving Mavs Maniacs and Dallasites and opportunity to reflect on his journey from Germany to the elites of the NBA.

Even Kobe Bryant thinks Dirk will be the MVP tonight.

It's Dirk's party. Let the fun begin.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

All-Star Saturday Night Thoughts

It's "half time" at the All-Star Saturday Night festivities, and it seems there is a 1-to-1 ratio of empty seats to filled ones. Rest assured that is a generous estimate.

Perhaps the most impressive moment of the evening was seeing Steve Nash win the skills competition here in Dallas after helping to light the Olympic cauldron in Vancouver last night.

The North Texas crowd enjoyed seeing Nash take the skills challenge as well as seeing the Dirk-led Texas team win the Shooting Stars contest, with the 9-time All-Star hitting the winning half-court shot in his home building.

The Three Point Shooting contest and Slam Dunk are still on deck. But at least a painful performance by Erykah Badu is behind us.

I'm not sure if the empty seats are more a representation of North Texas non-football apathy, the lack of excitement about All-Star Saturday, or just that the city is still recovering from 12.5 inches of snow on Thursday. Either way, there may be 10,000 to 12,000 people here tonight. It'll take about 70,000 more for the type of crowd Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones would like to see at the actual All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium.

Dunk Contest Disappointment

Tonight the NBA will hold its Dunk Contest as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities. With the DFW metroplex still melting off the 12.5 inches of snow from Thursday, it's hard to believe this dunk contest can be the fire that heats things up. The participants are middle of the pack at best. And as for the dunks, it's been pretty bland in recent years.

Oh, sure, people like to ooh and aah over Dwight Howard's ability to throw (not dunk) a ball through the hoop while wearing a cape, but I felt like someone from outside the modeling world watching Derek Zoolander. ONE LOOK!

Not much stands out these days. And the only dunking LeBron James is interested in involves a competition for a Big Mac -- a funny commercial but it'd be nice to see some of those moves in the actual official dunk contest.

Don't expect anything to bring you out of your seat tonight. The underwhelming competition is the only "slam dunk" predictable for tonight. The last time the NBA held the All-Star game in Dallas, Spud Webb won the Dunk Contest, all 5-foot-7 of him. Don't expect another Spud of a contest in Dallas, just another dud of a hollowed out shell of what used to be a great spectacle of basketball excitement.

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