Best Dolphins Player 1999 | Zach Thomas | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
For years the Dolphins were an offensive showcase. Of course a weapon such as Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino can be hard for a coach to ignore. Jimmy Johnson, though, never lost sight of his primary pledge to improve the team's defense. Mission accomplished. The Dolphins now possess one of the best defenses in the league. No defender better personifies the team's newly stingy soul than linebacker Zach Thomas. Since joining the Dolphins as an unheralded rookie two seasons ago, he has emerged as all-NFL, all-Madden, and all-important to a team that still hasn't won the Super Bowl Johnson promised three years ago. Management recently rewarded Thomas with a five-year, $22.5 million contract. Some of that money will replace the cash the player lost in January when he was mugged in New York City. Considering Thomas's imposing build, the bandit who blindsided him (he suffered bruises and needed five stitches in his lip) must be an all-pro in the criminal community. Best Moxie by a Mugger?
If it was in the news, José Quiñon was on the case. In fifteen years as one of Miami's top criminal defense attorneys, Quiñon defended a dizzying roster of Miami marauders. From Operation Court Broom to Operation Greenpalm, from Gutman to Gary, from oft-indicted Hialeah potentate Raul Martinez to Cuban American National Foundation president Pepe Hernandez. For a short while Quiñon even represented the defrocked basketball team at Miami High School. Then he had to go to a Grove nightclub and share margarita-flavored kisses with Esther Hernandez, wife of high-profile client Humberto. The illicit relationship cost "Q" at least $242,000 in legal fees paid by the former Miami city commissioner, and an awful lot more in reputation. It could even lead to his disbarment. Along the way it produced this joke: Why did Esther Hernandez cry when her husband was convicted of voter fraud and money laundering? Because her boyfriend lost the case.
Tough couple of years for the 36-year-old Hialeah native. Now that she's awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in April to federal corruption charges, the great irony is this: She's in a tight spot, facing up to ten years in prison, because some of her pals wanted to help her out of a tight spot. After being elected to the Hialeah City Council in 1993, Rovira earned a reputation as a close ally of Mayor Raul Martinez. Sadly her third marriage ended with a contentious divorce in 1996; she got custody of her two children but lost her banquet-hall business. In July of that year she got a job with the Port of Miami, for $39,799 per year, as an "international trade specialist." But as the investigation of former port director Carmen Lunetta heated up, Rovira's post was revealed to be among the alleged "no-show" jobs Lunetta had doled out as favors to his political allies. In mid-1997, then-County Manager Armando Vidal fired her. Her fourth marriage went into the crapper in early 1998. In her search for new work, she turned to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, applying for a teaching position (with a résumé that included the port job). She was hired as a replacement social studies teacher for the 1998-99 school year, but federal prosecutors cut short her teaching and political careers in November, arresting her as part of the port scandal. The school district allowed her to resign, and the governor suspended her from the city council. A phrase Rovira might want to incorporate into her lexicon once she gets out of the slammer: "Don't do me any favors!"
Courtesy of Books & Books
Miami may not have much of a reputation as a haven for bibliophiles, but you'd never know that from spending time in the backroom of Books & Books's Coral Gables store. John Grisham may rule the Beaches, but the caliber of talent holding court in this intimate spot is strictly topnotch. Week after week store owner Mitchell Kaplan shepherds authors here and in his Lincoln Road shop from around the nation, where they read from their work, scribble their John Hancocks, and best of all, banter directly with the audience. Ever wonder what makes Robert Stone tick? What makes Salman Rushdie run? Just where does Elmore Leonard get those twisted ideas? Here's your chance to put the question to them, face-to-face. With an admission price that's (almost always) zip, you've got one of Miami's best bets for highbrow, low-budget entertainment.
All he did was rush for more than 1000 yards in two straight seasons. All he did was gain a mind-boggling 299 yards and score three touchdowns against top-ranked UCLA. All he did, basically, was put the Hurricanes back on the map. The importance of the victory over the Bruins, a game in which James was the winning difference, cannot be overstated. When the final gun sounded, wide-eyed high school blue chips across South Florida decided then and there they were going to be wearing Canes colors next season. UM's subsequent recruiting class is considered the best in head coach Butch Davis's tenure. James didn't just help his team win a big game. As much as anyone, and more than most, he turned around an entire program. Enjoy the pros, son. Miami will be thanking you for years.
There is little doubt that losing in 1994 made Jeb Bush a better candidate for governor in 1998. It also may have made him a better person. Bush worked hard this past year to broaden his appeal to the people of Florida, reaching out to black voters and listening to their concerns. He also tempered his rhetoric, talking less about hot-button social issues such as abortion and school prayer, and concentrated instead on education and criminal justice. Needless to say, the voters responded. Bush's victory over Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay was resounding, and the early days of his administration have shown promise. Bush always said he left Texas and came to Miami in the Eighties to make a name for himself and to create his own opportunities. He's done that. Now it's time to see what he'll do with them.
Ho hum. The best jai alai player in Miami? Michelena. Still. As always. Forever. Since he debuted as a rookie in 1983, the Basque native has dominated his curious sport like no other athlete in the city. Marino? Mourning? No, Michelena. At age 37 he's not quite a world champion anymore, but he does have a world cup title on his résumé, along with nine Miami Jai Alai triple-crown titles. After all this time, he remains the man on which the smart money is bet.

It's been five years since county commissioners, in a politically charged vote, selected Armando Vidal as their county manager over Cynthia Curry. At the time Curry was seen as the big loser. What a difference five years can make. Today the county is racked by scandals and mismanagement. Commissioners have been arrested, department heads indicted, and Vidal, fired by the mayor who helped install him in the first place, is now working for the City of Hialeah. And Curry? Well, she is doing just fine, thank you. She came through the county manager selection process with her dignity intact and left the county to become a vice-president for business and finance at Florida International University. She was tapped by the governor to serve on the Financial Emergency Oversight Board keeping an eye on the City of Miami. She led the county's successful effort to have a portion of Miami-Dade designated as an empowerment zone, making it eligible for tens of millions of dollars in state and federal aid. And earlier this year the 43-year-old Curry left FIU to open a company with her husband, CWC & Associates, which will pursue business opportunities in South Florida. "I'm at that maturation point in my career where I need to do this," Curry recently told the Herald. "I've always wanted to be ultimately responsible, and this does it."
Forget Demolition Man. This 25-year-old reliever (a Florida native) is the unheralded star of our mediocre team. He works hard, pitches at better than 90 miles per hour, and closes games as easily as some people close their garage door. This past year he put up numbers that placed him among the National League's ten best relievers, and this year he's even hotter. The guy is a bargain by professional baseball standards -- a one-year contract worth $735,000. On top of that, he's a likable fellow. With the Marlins frequently falling behind in the early innings, new owner John Henry needs something that'll keep fans in their seats. Mantei is the man for the job.
She's 36 years old, has been a staff sports writer with Miami's Only Daily since 1983 and a columnist for the past five years. Her columns touch on all sports, at all levels of competition, and are marked by a directness and clarity of thought often lacking not only in the sports pages but throughout the paper's other sections as well. Four times she's been honored by having her work appear in the prestigious annual anthology The Best American Sports Writing, most recently in 1998 for a compelling article on the life of tennis star Venus Williams. Robertson deftly zeroed in on Williams's father:

"After declaring that 'any father who lets his daughter turn pro at fourteen should be shot,' he entered fourteen-year-old Venus in her first pro tournament just before the Women's Tennis Association raised the age of eligibility. Although he says, 'I'm holding the reins tight until she's eighteen,' he insists Venus made the decision to go pro herself.

"He preached the importance of education and a normal life for his kids while pulling them out of school and enrolling them in a tennis academy in Florida. He criticized controlling parents while supervising everything from Venus's forehand to her interviews to her trademark beaded-cornrow hair style. He lambasted parents for 'prostituting their daughters' by turning them into marketing commodities, then negotiated the contract with Reebok, rumored to be worth two million dollars."

One more sample, this from an article on Mike Tyson's reinstatement to boxing:

"We cannot resist a peek into the lives of our national bad boys, lives seemingly dictated by uncontrollable urges and self-destructive searches for risk. During Smut Summer '98 we watched President Clinton and Tyson squirm on TV, read about Clinton's grand-jury testimony and Tyson's psychiatric tests, and found out that the president and the former heavyweight champion weren't really two of the strongest men in the world.

"Those were illusions we can live without. The antihero is harder to revere, but easier to forgive.

"Tyson read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment in jail. He figures he has paid his price. Everyone deserves a second chance. Okay, maybe a third or fourth.

"But in Tyson's case, when will we stop counting?"

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®