By Mark Nagi

Travel is good for the soul.

This was never more evident than during the pandemic. The trips that we took for granted were missing. So many events, so many games, so many opportunities for new experiences were gone in an instant.

And while we aren’t completely back to pre-March 2020 levels of an open society, we aren’t that far away.

Recently I was asked to go to Dallas to attend a conference and didn’t have to think twice. I’ve been there a couple of times over the years. Once to cover the Vols at the 2004 Cotton Bowl and once more to work at an Indy Car race. It’s a cool city and I wanted to explore a bit.

There was some downtime on the first day of the conference, so I took about an hour and made the short walk from the hotel to Dealey Plaza. On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade drove through town. Now, over 58 years later, his shooting brings forth a wide range of emotions.

On any given day you’ll find conspiracy theorists on the sidewalk or next to the grassy knoll selling pictures and DVDs as they explain to anyone that will listen that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone.

The Warren Commission Report, an FBI investigation and decades of scientific analysis concluded that there was one gunman, and it was Lee Harvey Oswald, but that hasn’t stopped people from believing that there was a conspiracy. It was the Russians, or Fidel Castro, or the mafia, or some other person/group.

Visiting Dealey Plaza is like going to a crime scene. The ghosts from that awful day haunt the air.

Following day two of the conference, I chose a completely different pursuit, from American history to American sports.

The Los Angeles Lakers were in town to play the Mavericks, which meant I had a chance to watch LeBron James. The Lakers are terrible, and James/team management did an awful job developing the roster, but LBJ is one of the best to ever play the game. Like him or hate him, it’s hard to argue that he’s not on the shortlist of top NBA stars of all time.

I plopped down a few bucks on Ticketmaster (when I’m elected supreme ruler, I’ll do away with Ticketmaster fees) and made the mile walk to American Airlines Center.

Back in 1998, I saw Michael Jordan play at SkyDome in Toronto. He was expected to retire following the season and I wanted to make sure I saw him play at least once. A simple google search shows me that he scored 33 points, including the game winner with 5.4 seconds remaining in a 102-100 Bulls victory over the Raptors. I called up the game on YouTube, and it brought back so many memories. Me and an old fraternity brother drove through a snowstorm to get to the game.

I was hoping this chance to see LeBron would give me some moments to remember as well.

There were tons of Lakers jerseys present among the Mavericks supporters at the restaurant where I had my pregame meal. As I watched any of the big screens previewing the game, I saw this on the bottom line graphic.

  1. James. Out (ankle).

Soooo, yeah. That was depressing. A sprained ankle kept James from suiting up. Hopefully, I’ll have another opportunity sometime soon.

As for the game itself, the Mavericks destroyed the Lakers 128-110. I felt like the “old man yelling at cloud,” as I watched both teams run up and down the court without playing defense.

Dallas was led by a player named Luka Doncic, who looks like a beer league grinder but is on his way to being a Hall of Famer. 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in less than 30 minutes of action. He was worth the price of admission.

On the final day in Dallas, I had dinner following the conference at Press Box Grill and was done a solid by the bartender as I brought home a sweet Dallas Cowboys pint glass. It’s a sweet memento.

Yes. I’m a Cowboys fan. Don’t judge.

It was a great trip in a great city with some history and live sports mixed in. I’d recommend doing the same whenever the opportunity to travel arises.