“Isn’t this a sports blog?,” you may ask. Yes, yes is it is, and I want to include everyone. Tomorrow I have an interview with the Special Olympics, an organization that is very dear to my heart. I want to use this blog to tell my story of how the Special Olympics and its athletes have had an affect on my life.

In Matthew 5:1-12 Jesus tells the disciples who all to love. Verses 3-10 really stick out to me:

   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

These people that most of humanity ignores-people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, homeless, lame, mute- Jesus says the Kingdom belongs to them. So why shouldn’t we love them? I love the Special Olympics because their mission is to include people with intellectual disabilities. There are over 200 million people worldwide with an intellectual disability and the Special Olympics is trying to reach out to every single person through sports.

My personal story begins when I was six months old and Ronnie Sanchez moved in with my grandparents. His mother and stepfather had recently passed away and he moved to Texas because my grandmother was his guardian. Ronnie had Down Syndrome. I obviously don’t remember him moving here, but I don’t remember my life without him. My family raised every grandchild around Ronnie. He looked different to me, but I never treated him differently. Ronnie may have been slow when it came to learning and reading, but he had great one liners and was a fantastic bowler! There are many misconceptions about people with Down Syndrome. Ronnie defied all of them. Doctors told him he wouldn’t live to be a teenager, but he lived to his 60’s. Many employers wouldn’t hire someone like Ronnie, but he held a job for as long as I could remember.

I learned a lot through Ronnie and could never thank him, or my family, enough for sharing his life with me. Ronnie taught me how to love unconditionally and without prejudice. He taught me to be myself and not be afraid of what others think. Through him, I learned to be accepting of everyone and to be compassionate toward people like him. When he passed away four years ago, a piece of my heart died with him. He had me wrapped around his little finger! His impact on my life didn’t stop because he was no longer in my life. Ronnie’s memory lives on in my heart and my desire to work with people with intellectual disabilities.

Many people like Ronnie learn through sports. They learn how to focus, gain courage and social skills and learn to be exceptional in a sport. Ronnie participated in sports leagues through his job, similar to Special Olympics. When I was in junior high and high school, I volunteered with the Special Olympics. Those few days were the highlight of my year! Seeing the smiling faces of the kids and adults when they crossed the finish line melted my heart. And they gave the BEST hugs! In college, I was a member of Best Buddies. My buddy’s name was Paula. She was around the age of Ronnie when he passed away and, because of that, she immediately had my heart. It was like I could continue my relationship with Ronnie through Paula. We hung out once or twice a week. I would pick her up from her apartment and we would do crafts together or just talk. She was definitely a blessing in my otherwise crazy college life. During my junior year, I tried to make a bocce league for people with special needs that would meet and play on the Baylor campus. Student Activities never responded to my request. During my senior year, I had the chance to work with the Baylor Lady Bears. In my head, I had this huge dream of creating a basketball league for people with intellectual disabilities. I thought, through my connections with work, I could have players act as coaches for this league. My plan never got off the ground though.

Now I’m making a complete circle. Tomorrow I interview for an associate position with the Special Olympics. I’m more excited about this than I was for a job with ESPN (obviously, this is where my heart is)! Tomorrow I have the chance to have a job where I combine both of my passions: sports and people with intellectual disabilities. I want to think that Ronnie is looking down on me and smiling. He knows I would be perfect for this; almost like I was born for this job.

To me, the Special Olympics means compassion, inclusion, courage, acceptance and absolute joy. The athletes feel all of these things, and the volunteers feel the same. The volunteers are there to make a difference for the athletes, but the athletes are actually making more of a difference on the volunteers’ life. To be a part of such an amazing organization would make me incredibly happy and fulfilled. Loving on the athletes would be the greatest joy in my life. I really hope and pray I can make these feelings known tomorrow in the interview.

Last night, the Baylor men’s basketball team suffered a 92-74 loss at Kansas, their first loss of the season. To many, this would be no big deal. It’s just one loss, right? Wrong! This was also Baylor Athletics’ first loss since October 30. That’s right, the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams combined to go 40-0 since November 1.

Just last summer, when the Big 12 was going through major changes and maybe even possibly dissolving, Baylor was left out of the BCS conversation. Texas, Texas A&M and OU were all ready to jump ship and leave the Big 12 for other conferences. Baylor was left in the dust, as many conferences overlooked them because the football program hadn’t been very successful. Baylor then gained national attention when Texas A&M announced their admittance into the SEC and Ken Starr threatened legal action. Many thought it was uncalled for and ridiculous, but Baylor was just looking out for their best interests and the school’s future. Baylor was repeatedly called “irrelevant,” “the little brother,” and “nobody cares about little ol Baylor.”

After the 2011 football season and the 2011-2012 basketball season so far, I bet those same people are now shaking their heads and eating their words. Thanks to the “Baylor Big Three,” Robert Griffin III, Perry Jones III and Brittney Griner, Baylor fans can be proud of a great athletics program that is featured night after night on SportsCenter. The football team finished the season with a 10-3 record and a record-breaking 67-56 win over Washington in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy and is projected to go in the top 10 in the NFL draft, possibly even before Andrew Luck. The women’s basketball team is currently ranked number one in the country and has earned a perfect 17-0 record. The men’s team is now 17-1 after last night’s loss to Kansas and boasts multiple NBA prospects. Baylor is the ONLY school in the country to have their football team, men’s basketball team and women’s basketball team ranked in the top 15 in the coaches poll. Still think Baylor is irrelevant?

It’s definitely been a long and strenuous road for Baylor fans. Baylor athletics has risen from the ashes, especially the men’s basketball team. In 2003, Carlton Dotson murdered his teammate, Patrick Dennehy, and then the staff covered up multiple NCAA infractions. This marred not only Baylor Athletics, but also Baylor University. For years, the men’s basketball team suffered setbacks from the scandal. But, with the addition of Scott Drew, the men’s basketball team reached the NCAA Tournament in 2007-2008 and is projected to go to the Final Four this year after the addition of Quincy Miller and Brady Heslip, as well as the return of Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy.

For years, the only thing to cheer about was the Baylor Lady Bears. Two years after the scandal, Kim Mulkey led her team to a national title. Every year since, Mulkey and the Lady Bears have consistently dominated other teams. When Brittney Griner enrolled in 2009, she was immediately a big hit on and off the court. Standing at 6-8, Griner towered over everyone else on the court and became a blocking machine. She can also dunk, a rare feat for a woman. Last year, the Baylor Lady Bears were projected to win the national title, but they fell short in the Elite Eight, losing to Texas A&M. This year, Griner has more experience under her belt coming into the 2011-2012 season. She was the only collegiate player to make the USA basketball team and played on the 2011 European Tour. Add that to Odyssey Sims’ gold medial-winning performance with the USA Basketball team at the World University Games and you’ve got a recipe for a national champion-caliber duo.

After Robert Griffin III announced he was leaving Baylor to go pro, many people said Baylor football would slip back into obscurity. Not so fast, my friends! Coach Art Briles has consistently recruited some of the best players to Baylor. He notoriously persuaded Griffin to follow him to Baylor after initially committing to Houston. Second string QB, Nick Florence, shows promise to follow up Griffin’s winning performance. After Griffin sat out the second half of the Texas Tech game with a possible concussion, Florence scored 21 unanswered points and led Baylor to victory. Oh, and let’s not forget that Baylor announced plans to build an on-campus football stadium. The new stadium will definitely help with recruiting. Things are looking up for Baylor football.

As for basketball, both men’s and women’s teams look stacked for the future. The men’s team has consistently recruited some of the nation’s best players. Pierre Jackson is already being touted as a top 3 PG in the Big 12 in his first year. Many analysts have compared this year’s women’s team to UConn teams of the past because of their total domination of the competition, with margin of victories averaging 89-52. Coach Mulkey has continued to recruit the nation’s top players including; Odyssey Sims, Brittney Griner, Sune Agbuke and Jordan Madden.

#1, #3, and #12 sound REALLY good! 2011 was, as Robert Griffin III would say, “unbelievably believable,” and I can’t wait to see what 2012 brings!

LeBron James and Tim Tebow may play two different sports, but they are eerily similar. Both are polarizing athletes that people love, or love to hate. Both are mocked and ridiculed in the media and carry heavy pressure from their respective teams and fans to perform well.

James has been ridiculed for his production, “The Decision,” and also the early celebration when the Miami Heat announced the Big 3 at the beginning of the 2010-2011 season. Most people hate LeBron because of his decision to leave Cleveland. The way he did it and how he severed ties with the team that signed him and joined a “Super Team” didn’t sit well with Americans. James has also been mocked for disappearing in the fourth quarter and being a disappointment. And his greatest disappointment in the 2011 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, where he was completely unproductive in every fourth quarter. Last year, LeBron James was the most hated athlete in the country. His doubters range all ages, race and state in the country.

Then there’s Tim Tebow, who suffers from a different kind of hate. He is hated because of his faith and lack of orthodox NFL abilities. He was told from the very beginning that he would never make it in the NFL. His throwing mechanism wasn’t suitable for the NFL, so he trained for weeks and tweaked his throwing motion. The same ESPN analysts who are praising him now, doubted his skills and ability to succeed two  years ago. Tebowmania now has swept across the country and people either love him, or hate him. Tebow is open about his faith and charity work, leaving people to doubt is he’s being genuine. “Tebowing,” otherwise known as praying, is a frequent thing to see on the sidelines when Tebow makes a great play and at the end of a game. Doubters believe Tebow’s Christ-centered pre- and post-game prayers, press conference quotes and media interviews are mainly for attention. Even Charles Barkley spoke out this week that ESPN and other media outlets need to stop focusing so much on Tim Tebow and need to move on.

These two men are hated for different reasons: LeBron for leaving Cleveland, joining the Miami Heat and not producing, and Tebow for praising the Lord for his skills and winning a game.

Both men have the chance to win a championship this year. LeBron James and the Miami Heat are the early favorite to win the NBA Championship this year. They have produced early, jumping to an 8-3 record and third place in the NBA. Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos are in the playoffs for the first time since 2005 and stunned the Pittsburgh Steelers, and America, in the first round. Saturday night they have the chance to upset the New England Patriots and be one step closer to Tebow’s first Super Bowl and the Broncos’ first appearance since 1998.

If one, or both, men win a championship, who will shake more doubters? Will the man we love to hate gain more love with a championship ring? Or will the nice guy with a big heart shake the doubters when he proves he can win it all?

In my opinion, LeBron James would shake more doubters. Many analysts thought James would already have a ring by now. When he joined the Heat, he promised “not one, not two, not six, not seven…” championships. They had their chance last year against the Mavericks, but failed. I do believe James will have multiple rings by the time he retires. He could, in fact, win his first ring this year. When he does finally win a ring and become a Champion, many doubters will be put to rest. I’m sure there will still be many doubters and haters, but there are just as many who would respect him after the win.

If Tim Tebow wins the Super Bowl, Tebowmania will be at an all-time high, which could cause more hate for the young quarterback. At the same time, his followers and supporters would grow at an alarming rate. Americans love a good guy and a Cinderella story and Tim Tebow is exactly that.  He loves the spirit of competition, but realizes there is more to life than football.

I just don’t feel like Tebow hatred is on the same level as LeBron hatred. They are two different guys with two very different stories. Both men would gain respect, but I feel like Tebow is already respected by so many people, while more people hate LeBron rather than respect him. With a championship win, LeBron James has more to gain. He will finally shake the “fourth quarter disappearing act” persona. He will prove he has what it takes to be an NBA legend and join the likes of Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

What do you think?

Following Sunday’s Denver Broncos win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, I was checking my Twitter timeline and came across a re-tweet on a Denver Broncos page. The tweet was from the VP of Marketing and Communications at Texas A&M. Below is the tweet:

Jason Cook (@jason_cook)
“FYI #Broncos, the 12th Man belongs to Texas A&M. We saw the flag today and will defend our trademark. #TAMU #gigem”
  So, I did some research on the matter. Texas A&M filed to have the phrase trademarked in September 1990 and the passage of the Federal Dilution Trademark Act of 1995 allowed A&M to sue the Seattle Seahawks in 2006. Last year, the trademark was extended until 2020. They began sending “cease and desist” requests in 2004 and also to the Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears for their usage of the “the 12th Man.” In May 2006, Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks settled out of court. I’m assuming the Seahawks pay some sort of fee because they still fly a “the 12th Man” flag (as seen to the left).
     The Denver Broncos have been flying a “the 12th Man” flag at Sports Authority Field for a number of years. Nobody knows for exactly how long. I guess Mr. Cook just happened to be watching the Denver Broncos game yesterday, saw the parachuter with the flag and decided to send a threat to the Broncos via Twitter.
     Sure, A&M has every right to protect their trademark. But, NFL fans across the country are going to recognize the number 12 and “the 12th Man” as a reference to their fan base, not Texas A&M University. But, since it’s trademarked, I guess these teams across the country will have to give in to Texas A&M. Just from reading Broncos forums, I can tell this wouldn’t go over well with fan bases across the country.
I have two issues with this:
1.) Was Twitter the appropriate venue to threaten an NFL franchise over the use of the “the 12th Man?”
2.) How should the Texas A&M alums now playing for the Broncos feel?
1. First of all, I thought the Twitter account was fake and somebody was trying to be funny. Whenever I found out Jason Cook was legitimate, I had a laugh and then did my research. Mr. Cook, Twitter is definitely not the appropriate place to threaten legal action. The more appropriate thing to do would be to send a “cease and desist” letter via certified mail. Contact Ken Starr if you need lessons on how to write one. Mr. Cook made Texas A&M the laughing stock of the country Sunday night. Many teams, collegiate and professional, use the “the 12th Man” or “12” to reference their fan base. Is Texas A&M going to seek out every team and threaten them over a social networking site? Definitely not the best way to seem professional.
2. There are two Texas A&M alums on the Denver Broncos roster:  Von Miller and Ty Warren. What are they to think? I’m sure they were thrilled the “the 12th Man” phrase and flag they cherished in college was also used in their professional stadium. The first thing I thought was A&M could use these alums as ambassadors for the school and embrace the “the 12th Man” flag flown over Sports Authority Field. But, A&M would rather sue over the usage instead of trying to make a good name for themselves in Colorado and with Broncos fans. I understand protecting your brand and whatnot, but “the 12th Man” is a common phrase used widely across sports.
It all comes down to money, and as Big 12 regents and administrators know, A&M will give up their traditions for the right price.

As a Mavericks junkie, I follow the majority of sports blogs as well as players and personnel on Twitter. One of the many Mavericks I follow is Delonte West, one of the newest faces in the organization.

On the outside, Delonte West is a tatted man who carries a rough and tough attitude. But, on the inside, he’s struggling with past issues that is highlighted by Bipolar Disorder.

Following non-basketball related questions asked by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, West took his frustrations to Twitter over the weekend. West said he didn’t like being viewed as a “sideshow” because of his past troubles. In 2009, West was arrested after police found guns in a guitar case during a traffic stop. West also tweeted that because of his past, he was unable to qualify for an apartment and has been sleeping in his car or in the American Airlines Center team facilities. He also is unhappy about his pay because of all the fees his salary goes toward paying. The next day, his tweets were deleted and he was apologizing to the Mavericks organization, fans and media.

Because of his past record, West was not allowed to travel with the Dallas Mavericks to the White House to meet the President. Instead, he went home to see his family (in the D.C. area).

Personally, I feel awful for Delonte West. This guy needs a hug! And some help. His 2009 arrest was a cry for help, as he disappeared mid-season from the Cavs. The medicine he takes causes drowsiness, which is the reason he was pulled over. Bipolar Disorder causes people to suffer from short-term bouts of manic depression. These periods can last up to a week. Any other time, the person acts and functions normally. West simply was going through a bout of depression in 2009 and that small bout changed his life forever.

So, from now on, West won’t be allowed to meet the President when his team wins the NBA title, an honor NBA players dream of. But, even bigger than that, West can’t find a home. Many people think being a professional athlete brings a glamorous lifestyle. Delonte West is a sad example of that not always being true. He isn’t crazy. He can’t help he suffers from a sometimes debilitating disorder.

What boggles me is that the judicial system came down so hard on him. I understand he had guns on him, but is he really expected to hop from one hotel to another the rest of his life? He wasn’t planning on using the guns or to kill anyone. This one mistake has changed his life and there’s nothing West can do to change it. Instead of moving on from the incident, West is continuously reminded of his past and the things it hampers him from doing.

It hurts my heart to see people struggle like this. I wish there was a program people could go through in order to work through their problems and then to have the infraction removed from their record. If the person has learned his/her lesson, why should they have to suffer because of it the rest of their life?

Delonte West is in my thoughts and prayers. The  man is obviously suffering and hurting and needs some lifting up and encouraging words. Although hiis life and personal well-being comes before his career, I hope basketball is a great therapy for him and will keep him on the straight and narrow.

So everyone in America knows Lamar Odom was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks. Not only did Dallas get Lamar, but we also got the Kardashians! And the media frenzy and reality shows that come with that family.

I’ve been a Mavs fan since the day I was born. Literally, I grew up watching the Mavericks and remember hearing about the terrible seasons before I was born. My first sporting event was a Mavericks game at Reunion Arena. You know, when it wasn’t popular to be a Mavericks fan because it was a great season if they could win half their games.

Skip to 2012.

The Dallas Mavericks, after 31 years, have just won their first NBA Championship. Following their celebration, the NBA announced a lockout. Once the lockout was lifted, a crazy free agency period ensued that brought Lamar Odom and many other new faces to Dallas.

Don’t get me wrong, Lamar is a great basketball player. But, he just does NOT want to be in Dallas. From day one, he was overly sensitive about the trade. Dude! You’ve been playing NBA basketball for 12 years. You should know that this is about business, not feelings. Grow up, put your big boy panties on and play basketball. You play for the Champions now! Being ejected in your first game after whining with an official is not acceptable in Dallas. We don’t whine. We just play ball. Yea, you’re getting better as each game goes by, but the attitude has got to get better! Last year you won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. I’m pretty sure that’s who Mark Cuban was expecting to get this year. Tonight was the first glimpse of, hopefully, a better attitude and mindset about playing in Dallas (15 points, five rebounds, two steals).

Now, regarding the Kardashians….Why are they even famous? For being pretty? For Kim’s sex tape? I’ll admit, if I had to pick a Kardashian I’d be ok with living in Dallas, it’d be Khloe. She seems pretty cool. But, when ESPNDallas writers and Mavericks blogs start reporting on Kim Kardashian coming to Dallas to see Khloe, I have a problem. When did this become sports news? If anything, that story should be on TMZ or E! When reporters start reporting that as “news,” they lose credibility with me. I read Mavericks blogs to learn about the Mavericks, not to know when and where Kim will be in Dallas and if she’ll be sitting by Khloe at the next game. I love the Mavericks because they have that small-town feel. I’m afraid with all the media frenzy and cameras, my beloved Mavericks will turn into the Lakers. I’ll hate the day when TV cameras focus more on the celebrities on the sidelines than what’s going on on the court. Or when celebrities, like the Kardashians, receive more time on the jumbotron than fans and players.

Let’s get real: NBA basketball is not a fashion show. It’s not a social scene. It’s a game. A sport. It’s about the ten players on the court fighting for the ball in each possession. It’s about five players on offense and five players on defense. Teamwork. Winning.

As you can tell, it angers me how much the Dallas basketball scene has changed/is changing since the Mavericks won the Championship. I’ll take the national attention, but only the good kind that’s deserved. ESPN and other news outlets can report all they want about the struggles so far in the season and how the Mavericks are growing with the new players as each game passes. Or that Dirk has just played in his 1,000th NBA game. But, when I start seeing headlines about the Kardashians on respected sports sites, I lose faith in the area of writing I love most. And the reason I earned my degree in journalism. Being a sports journalist means you report on the players, injuries, key match-ups, the fans and the outcome of the game. Celebrities don’t deserve a place in a sports story, or highlights. I understand that things are different because there is a reality show being filmed between games, but the Kardashians should NOT intertwine with Dallas Mavericks basketball stories, recaps, highlights, etc.

Call me a hater, but I think the Kardashians deserve only a few seconds on the jumbotron so they can wave to their Dallas fans. But after that, move along, camera man. And include them in write-ups? Forget about it! Focus on the players and the game. I’ll take Lamar as a Dallas Maverick, but leave the Kardashian Krew in LA. Lamar is a good fit for this team once he gets used to the adjustment. If Khloe truly loves basketball and is supporting her husband, fine, I’ll gladly welcome her to the American Airlines Center. But, if the reality tv show starts interfering with the Mavericks’ success, I’m sure I won’t be the only Dallas fan with a problem.

Ok…I’m done with my rant. lol I’m just sick and tired of seeing too much of the Kardashians during the game telecasts and when I’m reading online. Like I said on my Facebook earlier this week, I’ll never understand why reporting on them is considered a sports story. I don’t “Keep Up With the Kardashians” and neither should sports writers/websites. I’m sure I’m not the only Dallas fan who feels this way…..

 

My Top Sports Moments of 2011

Posted: December 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s the last day of 2011, and like everyone else, I’m making some sort of “Best of 2011” list. As many of you know, I’m a huge sports nut and have had the privilege of working for many teams, both professional and collegiate. So, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite moments in sports in 2011, including memories from my time with Baylor and the Mavericks.

5. Baylor Lady Bears are Big 12 Champions

 The picture to the left is a personal picture that I took from my position on media row. I had the opportunity to work with the Athletic Communications staff for the Lady Bears and this moment was a very proud one. It was the culmination of a full season of hard work for this very special group of women. It was also an emotional moment for me because the Lady Bears were a favorite to win the National Championship and it was an exciting time. My memories from working for this team are all great. From Kim Mulkey wanting “snacks,” literally running into Brittney Griner, working with one of the greatest ladies I’ll ever know (Julie Bennett) and having the chance to help host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. I’ll never forget a moment, but this one was definitely one of the best. It was a moment of immense pride and joy. Just a happy moment for everyone involved and Baylor Nation!

4. July 25, 2011: The NFL is back

After 118 days of labor disputes, the NFL is back! This was definitely one of the best days of the summer. It was just too hard to fathom both the NFL and NBA missing parts, or all, of the season because of a lockout. After a summer full of arguing and negotiating, teams and players were ready to get back to work. The 2011 season has been a surprise so far. The Tebow craze, Suck for Luck and the rise of rookies are just a few. Tim Tebow started the season as third string quarterback and is now the starter and has led his team to 7-3 and a possible playoff contender. The Indianapolis Colts lost Peyton Maning due to neck surgeries and the “Suck for Luck” campaign ensued. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Von Miller and DeMarco Murray all began their NFL careers in 2011 and have dominated for their respective teams.

3. Baylor Football

Where do I start? I could make a list of the greatest sports moments in 2011 solely from Baylor football. Let’s start with the Heisman. Robert Griffin III is the first Baylor player to win the prestigious award. He also broke, or holds, multiple Baylor and NCAA football records. The Baylor Bears finished 10-3. They were a perfect 7-0 at Floyd Casey Stadium and finished 6-3 in the Big 12. They are also Alamo Bowl Champions. Basically, the Baylor football dominated in 2011. On top of the success of this year, Baylor announced plans to build an on-campus football stadium in the near future. Robert Griffin III will also go in the first round if he decides to forgo his senior year and declare for the NFL draft. 2011 was a great year to be a Baylor Bear and a Baylor football fan!

2. December 8, 2011: The NBA is back

I’m a huge NBA fan, so on July 1, 2011, my heart broke when the NBA began its lockout. Every day that the negotiations drug on,my heart continued to break. The Dallas Mavericks, my hometown team, had just won its first NBA Championship and wasn’t able to celebrate together. So, on December 8, I was awoken by a text in the middle of the night that the NBA had agreed to a deal. Definitely a better day for me than when the NFL lockout was lifted. I couldn’t wait to see the Mavericks raise their banner and start the 2011-2012 season defending their title, even if the team wasn’t the same as the year before.

1. Dallas Mavericks: NBA Champions

The city of Dallas had a huge reason to celebrate on June 12, 2011. Their Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals to win its first NBA title. For me, it meant a little more. I had the chance to work as a member of the NBA Communications staff during the NBA Finals. Every home game of the Finals, I arrived a few hours before tipoff to help prepare for the game and get the press box and other media areas ready. I had the chance to meet so many wonderful people in the NBA and sports world. Pictures and stories can’t begin to explain what it was like. To be able to work for my favorite team was a dream come true, even if I was only a stat runner. It’s still unbelievable that I played a very small part in the Championship run. There were moments that I had to fight back tears and control my emotions (You can’t show favoritism in the press box). But what’s even more unbelievable is that a team full of 30-somethings, and a team most sports analysts doubted, are NBA Champions. MY Dallas Mavericks!

Christmas Day was the cherry on top of my greatest sports moments of 2011. Fighting back sports tears, I watched as the Mavericks raised their Championship banner to the rafters in the American Airlines Center. Seeing Dirk and Jason Kidd fight back tears didn’t make me feel bad for crying. They were finally fulfilling their dream, and so was I, although in a different context. Both of those guys had played their hearts and bodies out for years and finally achieved their goal. I was born and raised a Mavericks fan and suffered through many losing seasons. In 1997, when Dirk Nowitzki arrived in Dallas, I knew things would be different for the Mavericks in the future. It was always disheartening to go out in the first or second round of the playoffs year after year. And the greatest disappointment in 2006. All the haters and doubters were finally put to rest on June 12, 2011. And the video below was the final celebration. Banners fly forever, Mavs fans!!