Sports Top 10s

The year in sports, CenTex style

Dennis Johnson
Dennis Johnson (Photo by John Anderson)

In a year that was full of loss and disappointment (the tragic deaths of Mike Coolbaugh and Dennis Johnson, the Mitchell Report), there was never a shortage of sports stories and events to remind us of why we love these childish games so much. The numbers on the scoreboard are meaningful, but the tales and people surrounding them are often of greater importance and have a remarkable impact upon our lives. What follows is a list of 10 notable sports happenings of the last year that may have caught the attention of Austin-area sports lovers. Enjoy, and good luck in '08.

1) In January the Austin Toros mascot, Da Bull, had his 15 minutes of fame, appearing on ESPN's Cold Pizza after being suspended for two games and assessed 50 hours of community service for running onto the court with 0.4 seconds remaining in a game against Colorado and hanging from the rim, colliding with a 14ers player in the process. The Toros also inked a deal with the San Antonio Spurs later in the year, becoming their sole minor-league affiliate.

2) Director Bob Ray and producer Werner Campbell debuted their feature-length Roller Derby documentary, Hell on Wheels, at the Paramount Theatre during South by Southwest Film 07 in March, bringing the two local feuding leagues (Texas Rollergirls, Lonestar Rollergirls) together to share in their accomplishments and success. Austin is truly the birthplace of a new era for Roller Derby.

3) University of Texas women's basketball coach Jody Conradt retired in March after 31 years with the program, 900 wins, and a national championship in 1986. Duke's Gail Goestenkors scored Conradt's old gig.

4) Kevin Durant made it official in April, by declaring for the NBA's '07 draft. He goes on to be picked No. 2 overall by the Seattle Supersonics.

5) On June 28, Craig Biggio became the 27th big-league ballplayer to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. He was the ninth to do it all with one team (the Houston Astros). Biggio ended his career with 3,060 hits, good for 20th all-time. Thanks for the memories, Bidge.

6) The critically acclaimed and locally shot TV series Friday Night Lights debuted its second season on Friday, Oct. 5. If you have not given this show a chance, run out and pick up season one on DVD and enjoy one of the finest sports dramas ever.

7) On Oct. 12 the Austin Wranglers announced that they were moving from the Arena Football League proper to the minor-league ArenaFootball2.

8) Causing consternation citywide, the Packers vs. Cowboys game on Nov. 29 was broadcast exclusively on the NFL Network, thereby excluding local Time Warner customers. Cowboys fans freaked out, and area sports bars celebrated Christmas early.

9) On Dec. 13, in front of a national TV audience (the NFL Network again), the Houston Texans' Mario Williams had his official coming-out party, sacking the Broncos' Jay Cutler 3.5 times and quieting the "bust" talk that has been surrounding his career.

10) UT's football squad defeated Arizona State handily on Dec. 27 in the Holiday Bowl, 52-34, extending their bowl-game winning streak to four.

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Dennis Johnson, Mike Coolbaugh, Mario Williams, Jody Conradt, Hell on Wheels

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