Written by Evan Grant
Decade in Dallas-Fort Worth sports was a tumultuous 10
What a long, strange decade it has been.
Some things changed. At the dawn of the decade, it was the Rangers and Stars who were sitting on the beginnings of dynasties and the Mavericks who were in the process of being sold.
Some things stay the same. The Cowboys were in a bit of a playoff drought and were thinking about changing head coaches.
In between, all kinds of crazy stuff happened. The NBA Finals came to Dallas. The Texas Longhorns won the Game of the Century.
Euless Trinity and Southlake Carroll built football dynasties and Carroll became a cradle for college quarterbacks, while North Texas became a cradle for gold medal-winning Olympic gymnasts. And the decade ended with SMU - yes, SMU - receiving a bowl berth.
As we prepare to close out the "aughts," we take a look back at the area's sporting world boons and busts, as well as some of the decade's most shocking developments.
1. Dirk Nowitzki
Hard to believe, but he still seems to be climbing in terms of performance, even after a decade in which he won an MVP, led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals and matured into the team's leader. He has seamlessly moved between three frontcourt positions.
2. Vince Young
The guy won his last 18 games as a college quarterback, including a pair of Rose Bowls. He led Texas to its first national championship in 35 years, and in scoring the winning touchdown on a 9-yard scramble with 19 seconds left, he staked his claim as the greatest college football player in the state's history.
3. Nastia Liukin
The Parker gymnast won all-around Olympic gold in Beijing, as well as team silver and two other individual medals. She also won world championships in 2005 and 2007. She and Mary Lou Retton could have quite an argument about who is the greatest U.S. gymnast ever.
4. Carly Patterson
The only differences between Liukin and Patterson are that Patterson lives in Allen and she won one fewer medal at the Athens Games in 2004. She still walked away with all-around gold and a team silver.
5. Colt McCoy
The winningest quarterback in NCAA history might be a touch higher on this list if this season's BCS championship game were played a week earlier. He finished in the top three of the Heisman Trophy voting twice.
6. Michael Young
He played more games (1,351) and had more hits (1,662) in this decade than any Ranger in any previous decade. He won his team's second batting title in 2005 and was named All-Star Game MVP in 2006 - as close as the Rangers came to a postseason game in the decade. Young hit .302 with 139 homers and 720 RBIs.
7. Jason Witten
In a Cowboys decade known more for failure than success, Witten was the most consistently solid player. He's been named to the Pro Bowl five times and was All-Pro the last two seasons. He's already fifth in career receptions by a tight end. Now, if only the Cowboys would throw to him in the red zone.
8. DeMarcus Ware
Ware was a perfect fit for the redesigned Cowboys defense under Bill Parcells and has done nothing but improve each season. He topped out with 20 sacks in 2008, his second consecutive All-Pro season.
9. Mike Modano
Slowing down now, but in this decade he became the leading career goal-scorer among American-born players. His 548 goals and 1,342 points put him 26th on both lists heading into Christmas week.
10. Steve Nash
Though it was only after he left town that he won two MVP awards, it was Nash's arrival and his direction of the offense that led to the Mavericks' rebirth at the start of the decade. And his mentoring of Dirk Nowitzki paid huge long-term dividends.
1. Chan Ho Park
A fly-ball pitcher coming from the NL's most pitcher-friendly park who was all too willing to take $65 million for five years to come to Texas? Should have been all kinds of red flags. In his 3 ½ seasons with the Rangers, Park compiled a 5.79 ERA, the highest in the majors for pitchers with at least 50 starts. A failure in Texas of epic proportions.
2. Sean Avery
NHL's bad, er, stupid boy signed four-year, $15.5 million deal with the Stars to bring fire and emotion to team. He lasted 23 games before uttering his infamous "sloppy seconds" remark toward Dion Phaneuf and ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. Avery made such a bad impression on the team, the players didn't want him back after he served a suspension.
3. Joey Galloway
The Cowboys traded two first-round picks to Seattle for him in 2000. Seattle turned those picks into RB Shaun Alexander and WR Koren Robinson. In his three-plus seasons with the Cowboys, Galloway tore a knee ligament and ended up with 151 catches for 2,341 yards. Robinson had 182 catches for 2,672 yards in his first three seasons with Seattle. Alexander? He rushed for 2,806 yards and 32 TDs.
4. Cowboys QBs
From Troy Aikman's retirement until Tony Romo's ascent, quarterback was a wasteland for Dallas. Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson (not even the best QB named Drew of the decade), Chad Hutchinson and Drew Bledsoe compiled a composite 72.1 passer rating. The Cowboys ranked 29th of 32 NFL teams in the void between Aikman and Romo.
5. John Hart
Committed $111 million to free agents in his first winter as the Rangers' general manager, and every one of them tanked. He then jettisoned players like Doug Davis, Ryan Ludwick, Travis Hafner and Justin Duchscherer. After criticism mounted for putting together consecutive 90-loss teams, Hart went underground.
6. Raef LaFrentz
Came to the Mavericks in a blockbuster deal in the middle of the 2001-02 season and signed a seven-year, $70 million deal in the off-season. Then he lasted one more season here, contributing 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Another in the Mavs' long list of failed attempts at a defensive presence in the middle.
7. Leon Smith
Speaking of failed big men, the Mavericks acquired Smith from Chicago after the 1999 draft. He never played for them before his February 2000 release, but he did throw a rock through a car window, swallow 250 aspirin tablets and spend time in a psychiatric ward.
8. Pierre Turgeon
In the final days of the NHL's free-spending era, the Stars got Turgeon for five years at $25 million to replace Brett Hull as a scoring threat. Turgeon had 12 seasons with at least 60 points before joining the Stars; he didn't reach 50 in any of his three seasons with Dallas.
9. Mike Vanderjagt
He signed a three-year contract to stabilize a shaky kicking game in 2006. He made 13 of 18 field goal attempts, and after missing twice against Indianapolis in Week 11, his image was booed when it appeared in a commercial on the Texas Stadium video boards. He was cut after the game.
10. Pacman Jones
Locals wasted a lot of precious ink wringing their hands over Jones. His biggest contribution to the Dallas scene was getting in a fistfight with his bodyguard at the Hotel Joule. On the field, he wasn't nearly as physical.
1. Mark Cuban
Made a fortune, bought an NBA team and took it to the Finals, wrestled, danced on TV, worked the counter at a Dairy Queen. He also may have had a disagreement or two with NBA officials. Ernest Hemingway wished he had a decade this eventful.
2. Jerry Jones
Like a pharaoh or Roman emperor, Jones built himself a lavish palace. But those others were usually to commemorate a monumental victory. Jones had none of those this decade. Jerry knows how to make headlines even if he hasn't shown he knows how to construct a playoff winner.
3. Tony Romo
Cowboys quarterback plus relationships with singing beauties Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson make for a compelling story. Fans would be more compelled by a playoff win.
4. Terrell Owens
Whether he was stomping on the Texas Stadium star (2000), romancing Nicollette Sheridan (as an Eagle before a 2004 game against the Cowboys), encouraging Cowboy fans to get their popcorn or feuding with various Dallas teammates, he held your attention.
5. Dirk Nowtizki
Even though he was victimized by Cristal Taylor, Dirk's personality is pretty boring to the outside world. He's on this list purely for performance reasons. But how could you have a list of area sports personalities without him?
6. Tom Hicks
Started the decade by giving out the biggest contract in sports history and ended it by putting the Rangers up for sale to shed debt, much of which was created by that $252 million contract he gave Alex Rodriguez.
7. Bill Parcells
In terms of NFL experience, no Cowboys coach arrived in town with better experience - and that includes Tom Landry. But during Parcells' four seasons, the big question was what would ultimately drive a wedge between his larger-than-life personality and that of Jerry Jones. Answer: No. 4 on our list.
8. Bob Knight
When you stop doing what you are most famous for (coaching) and can still make headlines - most recently for suggesting John Calipari lacks integrity - you obviously are a compelling personality.
9. Josh Howard
He certainly knew how to make headlines, but for all the wrong reasons - like a birthday party during the playoffs, admitting to getting high and mocking the national anthem. He's known more for that than his rather impressive basketball skills.
10. Alex Rodriguez
He was supposed to become the face of the Rangers franchise - that was part of the $252 million contract he signed - but he's probably best remembered for saying he didn't want to play with "24 kids" shortly after being traded to the Yankees. No visiting player, in any sport, gets a less hospitable welcome to the area.
1. 2005 Texas football
The Longhorns went undefeated, averaged 50 points per game, won the school's first national championship in 35 years and did it by winning the Game of the Century in the final minute. What's not to like?
2. 2005-06 Mavericks
The Mavs reached the NBA Finals for the first time and, if not for a certain former mayor announcing the championship parade route after two games, they might just be atop this list.
3. 2009 Texas football
Potentially a week away from being tied for second on the list. But this team has been nowhere near as dominant as the 2005 champions. And there is still the little issue of Alabama's defense to tackle.
4. 2009 TCU football
Just as in the final BCS rankings this season, the Horned Frogs are fourth. They certainly deserve to be in the discussion, just not atop the list.
5. 2007-08 Stars
There were Stars teams that compiled more points in the regular season, but playoff hockey is what it's all about. The '07-08 team went to the conference finals and, after falling behind 3-0 to Detroit, won two games to make it interesting.
6. 2004 Southlake Carroll football
Which of the Dragons' three state championship/national championship teams to pick is quite a predicament. How about the team that started it all? Chase Daniel led the winning drive and Kevin Ortega kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to beat Smithson Valley, 27-24.
7. 2009 Euless Trinity football
Maybe the most surprising of Trinity's three state championships in the decade. The Trojans began the season 1-2, then won 14 consecutive games on the way to the title. Fittingly, they came from two touchdowns down to beat Austin Westlake in overtime in the title game.
8. 2005 Highland Park football
Led by QB Matthew Stafford, the Scots rolled to their first undefeated, untied season. They capped things off by drubbing Marshall, 59-0, in the state title game.
9. 2001-02 Lincoln boys basketball
With Chris Bosh in the middle, Lincoln capped a 40-0 season with a 20-point win in the 4A championship game. Lincoln also was named USA Today's national champion.
10. 2004 Texas Rangers
Should we go with a 13-3 Cowboys team that lost in the first round of the playoffs? Or a Rangers team expected to finish last that ended up winning 89 games? We'll go with the pleasant surprise.
1. Baylor basketball saga
As if the 2003 disappearance and murder of basketball player Patrick Dennehy weren't enough, it was only the start of a scandal that revealed drug use, recruiting violations, coaches paying tuition and players encouraged to lie to investigators. It resulted in five years of NCAA probation and the end of Dave Bliss' college coaching career.
2. Dirk victimized
This first sentence from a September 2009 story about the woman removed from Dirk Nowitzki's house months earlier kind of says it all: "Cristal Taylor, the incarcerated former fiancée of Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, is not pregnant - contrary to what she and her attorneys had been saying since shortly after her arrest in May."
3. Cowboys' facility collapse
A severe windstorm blew down the fabric and steel tent while players and staff were inside it in May. Scouting assistant Rich Behm was paralyzed and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis suffered broken vertebrae. Subsequent investigations revealed building code violations and resulted in lawsuits against the construction companies.
4. The 100-0 rout
On the court in January, Covenant beat Dallas Academy, 100-0, in a girls basketball game. In the court of public opinion, it was a disaster for Covenant coach Micah Grimes. Shortly after he posted a response to Covenant's public apology for running up the score, he was dismissed.
5. Hicks' empire goes bust
At the beginning of the decade, Tom Hicks threatened to crash the billionaire baseball owners' big-spenders club with the $252 million contract he gave Alex Rodriguez. By the end, his empire was a tale of the economic times. He was forced to negotiate the sale of controlling interest in the Rangers to escape massive debt incurred by Hicks Sports Group.
6. Romo's love life
Face it, you know more about Romo's dating - and dumping - Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson than about his passer rating. His biggest trip of the decade wasn't to the end zone, but to Cabo with Simpson's family.
7. Rangers muscling up?
When Jose Canseco's juicy tell-all steroids saga came out in 2005, it pointed fingers at former Rangers Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro. Palmeiro later became the biggest name ever to test positive for steroids. In 2009, Alex Rodriguez acknowledged doing steroids, but only during the three years he was with Texas.
8. Dwayne Goodrich arrested
Maybe one of the saddest Cowboys stories ever. In January 2003, after a night at a topless club, Goodrich slammed into and killed two men trying to help a motorist escape a burning car. Goodrich was going 110 mph. He fled the scene but was tracked down and convicted of two counts of criminally negligent homicide. He is still in prison.
9. T.O. ODs
Allergic reaction? Suicide attempt? Accidental overdose? A month into Owens' first season with the Cowboys, the city became exposed to the kind of drama that surrounds the wide receiver. All that is certain is he was taken to a hospital after ingesting some hydrocodone. And that his soon-to-be-fired publicist suggested Owens, owner of a $25 million contract, would never attempt suicide because he had "25 million reasons to live."
10. Belfour's bribe
After becoming boisterous, an intoxicated Belfour put one of The Mansion's security guards in a headlock when the guard tried to escort him out of the hotel in March 2000. It took pepper spray from police officers to subdue him, resulting in a charge of resisting arrest. On the way to jail, Belfour reportedly offered the officers "$1 billion" to forget the incident.
1. Cowboys Stadium built (2009)
Call it whatever you want - Jerry World, The Death Star, Planet Jerrywood - but make sure you describe the $1.15 billion stadium as the hallmark for a generation.
2. Alex Rodriguez signs (2000)
By ponying up $252 million - $100 million more than anybody else offered - Rangers owner Tom Hicks signaled to the world that he planned to go toe to toe with baseball's biggest spenders.
3. Alex Rodriguez traded (2004)
Then Hicks signaled he was no longer in that game. The Rangers got Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias from the Yankees and agreed to pay a hefty portion of Rodriguez's salary for four years.
4. Mark Teixeira traded (2007)
The baseball version of the Herschel Walker deal. Young Rangers general manager Jon Daniels got Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison and Beau Jones from Atlanta's John Schuerholz, who was desperate for one last playoff run.
5. Jamie Langenbrunner traded (2002)
On the way to missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, the Stars made a deadline deal to scramble their team, sending Langenbrunner and future GM Joe Niewenduyk to New Jersey for Jason Arnott. It didn't help. Langenbrunner is in his third season as the Devils' captain.
6. Steve Nash signs - with Phoenix (2004)
The Mavericks wouldn't match Phoenix's six-year, $63 million offer. Nash went on to win two MVP awards with the Suns while the Mavs embarked on a long, often fruitless search for a replacement point guard.
7. Bill Parcells arrives (2003)
In total dollars, it wasn't such a big deal ($17.1 million for four years). What was significant was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' agreeing to turn over control of his team to an autonomous coach.
8. Terrell Owens signs (2006)
Maybe the strongest sign that Parcells had lost his autonomy was the three-year, $25 million deal Jones gave Owens. It took one season with Owens to drive Parcells back into retirement.
9. Joey Galloway acquired (2000)
How bad was this trade with Seattle, in which the Cowboys surrendered two first-round draft choices? It makes the Roy Williams trade look like a good deal in comparison.
10. Jason Kidd acquired (2008)
Still desperate for a point guard four years after Nash left, the Mavericks brought Kidd back in a midseason deal that was so complicated, it took a week from the time it was agreed on to work out all the details. The trade included the Mavs sending retired Keith Van Horn to New Jersey to satisfy salary-cap issues.