It's pretty easy to make an argument that 2011 was the most remarkable sports year that Dallas-Ft Worth has ever experienced. Here are the 20 primary reasons:
No. 20 - Mavericks re-sign Dirk Nowitzki / Mavericks trade for Tyson Chandler - There was some anxiety surrounding the Mavericks' attempt to hang onto Nowitzki, but the German stuck with the team that drafted him and took less than maximum money to give Mark Cuban more wiggle room. The Chandler tradewas met with a big round of yawns, thanks to the overhyping of the "Dampier trade chip" but turned out to be one of the best trades in DFW history.
No. 19 - Texas beats Texas A&M in the Aggies' last Big 12 game - The end to one of the Aggies' most disappointing seasons (and that's saying something), which saw them complete their fall from the Top 10 and possible National Championship contention to 4-5 in their final Big 12 season, came on a Justin Tucker 40-yard field goal.
No. 18 - Rangers win Yu Darvish bidding - As 2011 ends we don't know for certain whether Darvish will sign with the Rangers, and we certainly don't know how good he would be for them if he does come. The mere fact that the Rangers placed the highest big for the Japanese ace was quite the exciting moment all by itself, and Rangers fans have spent the better part of December with images of a long term ace dancing in their heads.
No. 17 - Cowboys blow big 4th quarter lead against the Jets / Cowboys blow big 4th quarter lead against the Lions / Cowboys blow 4th quarter lead against the Patriots / Cowboys blow big 4th quarter lead against the Giants - We won't know until the first day of 2012 whether they can come back from blowing five fourth quarter leads to win the NFC East.
No. 16 - TCU wins the Rose Bowl - Andy Dalton capped a brilliant college career by leading TCU to the apex of their successful era (so far), a 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
No. 15 - Rangers win Division Series over the Rays - After losing Game 1 in a blowout, the Rangers win three straight tight ones to win the third playoff series in franchise history.
No. 14 - Mavericks beat the Blazers in six games - Many picked Portland to beat Dallas in the first round, so when the series went 2-2 things felt a bit dire. The two hard fought victories to close out the series were a hint of the kind of character this team would show in their playoff run. The six games matched the Finals for the furthest anyone pushed Dallas in the playoffs.
No. 13 - Stars announce new owner - This one really deserves to be higher if we were going on pure significance. The last of three major franchises to detach itself from Tom Hicks' leach-like grip, things are finally looking up for the Stars now that a guy named Tom Gaglardi is attempting to right the ship and inject some life into what had become one of the deadest arenas in North America.
No. 12 - Mavericks celebrate their first championship - It's been a long time since the city of Dallas has been as happy as it was on June 16 when a quarter of a million people celebrated the Mavericks' first championship and the first major championship of this century for DFW. The celebration inside the AAC afterward was as memorable for me as the one four days earlier.
No. 11 - Rangers win Game 5 of the World Series - Deja vu was the vibe around town as the Rangers' playoff run seemed to mirror the Mavs'. Mike Napoli's two-run double to win Game 5 was certainly cut from that cloth.
No. 10 - Texas A&M leaves the Big 12 - The Aggies came very close to single-handedly blowing up the current conference makeup of college football. In the end they didn't do that, but they did make a historic move away from their siblings with whom they've competed for over a century.
No. 9 - Rangers beat the Tigers on Nelson Cruz walk-off grand slam - In what should be remembered as the series of the huge Nelson Cruz home run, the most memorable was his walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 11th in Game 2. If you've already forgotten, he also hit a solo shot in Game 1 that was the winner in a 3-2 game and polished the Tigers off in Game 4 with a three-run shot, also in the 11th.
No. 8 - Mavericks make up 15 points in the last five minutes in a WCF back breaker - It's amazing that this comeback can actually be overshadowed by another one in the same playoff run because it was one of the more amazing things any of us have ever seen. One of my favorite aspects looking back is that John Hollinger decided that the narrative of that game should center around ... the Thunder and their championship path. Keep at him, Chuck.
No. 7 - Robert Griffin III wins a Heisman Trophy - As prolific as he's been, as impressive of a person as he is, and as much as he's done for a nearby program, RG3 seems to have flown largely under the radar for most of his college career. A Heisman means that he won't do that any longer, and after he's picked in the top ten next April he may well become a household name across the country.
No. 6 - Cowboys Stadium hosts DFW's first Super Bowl - A week that promised to be something of a coming out party for the area turned out to just be a big mess. Most of the problems were brought about by the fluke week-long snow storm, but seat and ticket issues continue to haunt Jerry Jones and the NFL.
No. 5 - Dirk Nowitzki overcomes a bad fever to hit the clincher as the Mavericks win Game 4 of the NBA Finals - A sick Dirk had one of the worst playoff performances of his career, but his teammates kept it tight enough for their guy to win it late with a driving basket.
No. 4 - Mavericks finish a four-game sweep of the Lakers with a 36-point win - Along the way to their first title, the Mavericks dispatched the champs and ended (for now, at least) Phil Jackson's career in very unflattering fashion. The bow on top was a Game 4 humiliation that cost Andrew Bynum the first four games of this season.
No. 3 - Mavericks come back for Game 2 win in the NBA Finals - The most memorable game in Mavericks history should be Game 2 in Miami where Dallas overcame a second 15-point fourth quarter lead and turned what could have been an easy series for the Heat into an all-out dogfight.
No. 2 - Rangers are one pitch away from winning their first World Series but lose Game 6 - As exhilarating as the NBA Finals were for the Mavericks, the World Series was at least as gutwrenching for the Rangers. Just like the Mavs, the Rangers reached the absolute doorstep of their first championship in a tortured franchise history. Unlike the Mavs, they couldn't make that one final play.
No. 1 - Dallas Mavericks are NBA Champions - The Packers made the playoffs in the final week and won the Super Bowl out of the Wild Card, but the Mavericks were still the most unexpected champion of the year. They exorcised demons and overcame improbable odds so frequently that no fiction writer would have dared write such a fairy tale story line. Back in Miami, where they had handed away their golden championship opportunity five years earlier, with their one change of clothes - black, they broke the Heat's will, spent an unforgettable night in South Beach, and brought home DFW's first Larry O'Brien trophy.