Friday, June 3, 2011
Welcome to center of sports world
By Tim MacMahon
DALLAS -- Howdy, y'all. Welcome to the center of the sports world.
You reckon that's a bold claim for the Metroplex to make?
Try finding another region that has hosted a Super Bowl, World Series and NBA Finals within a year.
We'll save you the work. You've gotta go back more than four decades and all the way west to Los Angeles, which had the Lakers lose to the Celtics in the 1966 NBA Finals, had the Dodgers lose to the Orioles in the 1966 World Series and hosted Super Bowl I in January 1967.
That triple play will be completed in these parts when Game 3 of the deadlocked Finals between the Mavericks and Miami Heat tips off Sunday night at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas. Plus, we can claim the tiebreaker over those L.A. pretty boys, having hosted an attendance-record-setting NBA All-Star Game only 16 months ago.
Call it a coincidence or a crazy run of luck if you want. But you might have heard that everything's bigger in Texas, and this might just be the beginning of something really big.
It all begins with the big-name bosses: the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones, the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban and the Texas Rangers' Nolan Ryan.
Those men provide plenty of reason to believe that Dallas and Arlington will be prime postseason stops -- and at least occasionally championship sites -- for years to come.
You can question Jerry's chops as a football man. Heck, that's how we fill about half our sports radio airtime. So, even though his Cowboys have elite players in their prime such as DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo and Jason Witten, they'll have to prove themselves as legitimate contenders after a ton of hype and one playoff win in the past 14 years.
But they don't get much better than Jerry the businessman. If you don't believe that, fork over $27.50 on a Finals off day to take a tour of the man's $1.2 billion football palace with the 60-yard long, high-definition big screens.
OK, so Super Bowl XLV didn't exactly go smoothly. A historic outbreak of severe winter weather put a hitch in the giddy-up all week, then a few thousand fans were rightfully outraged when their seats weren't ready Sunday.
But you can bet that the Super Bowl will be back here. Cowboys Stadium, aka Jerry World, is too big and too beautiful not to be in the regular rotation. (And that holds true for the NBA All-Star Game, NCAA Final Four and Bowl Championship Series title game, too. Yes, you can count on the Cotton Bowl's eventually being added to the BCS cartel after bolting its original home in downtown Dallas for the indoor comforts in Arlington.)
Cuban is every bit as brash and maybe even more business bright than Jerry, his partner in bringing the NBA All-Star Weekend to North Texas. Cuban also has a heck of a track record running a basketball franchise.
The Mavs were a league laughingstock when Cuban, who sat in the Reunion Arena nosebleed section before becoming a self-made billionaire, bought the team. They've since become one of four franchises in NBA history to win at least 50 games every year for a decade. Granted, the others in that group won multiple titles and the Mavs have none, but they're working on that right now.
These Mavs are the NBA's oldest team, which could be considered circumstantial evidence that this is their last chance for a championship. But as long as Dirk Nowitzki has prime years left, the Mavs have a shot to be in the mix. Consider this postseason as proof that the soon-to-be-33-year-old surefire Hall of Famer has plenty of prime left.
Ryan, the face of an investment group that outbid Cuban in an auction for the Rangers last year, does not exactly fit in with the other owners in the area. First of all, he was a true Texas legend long before he ever stepped foot in the front office. He was born and raised here and played the last half of his 27-year Hall of Fame career in the Lone Star State.
There's certainly no questioning his baseball credibility, not with the big league record for strikeouts and no-hitters among his accomplishments. Ryan's brief tenure as a big league executive has been almost as remarkable as his work on the mound.
The Rangers, a team that had never before won a playoff series, ended that drought, then knocked off the Yankees en route to the World Series in Ryan's third season in charge of baseball operations. Ryan, who now runs the entire organization, is in charge of a franchise set to be a championship contender for a long time.
General manager Jon Daniels and his crew of scouts and stat geeks began the rebuilding process before Ryan returned to Arlington. Their work has produced a first-place team with a young core, headlined by MVP Josh Hamilton, and one of the best farm systems in baseball.
And Texas sent a strong message that it's playing to win by trading for since-departed ace Cliff Lee in the middle of last season.
The Mavericks are on basketball's biggest stage right now. The Rangers are primed to be baseball postseason regulars. The Cowboys have hope and, if nothing else, will open up their home to the Super Bowl every five years or so.
When it comes to major sports championships, y'all will be coming back to the Metroplex, ya hear?
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.