If the Miami Dolphins can conjure up a quarterback and an offensive line, Ricky Williams will set rushing records for years. Combining speed and agility with Riggins-esque old-school muscle, Williams was the only moving part in the Dolphins' offensive engine last season. Williams's personality also makes him more interesting than your average hunnerdtenpercent-givin' jock: The 230-pound Heisman winner has dealt with social anxiety disorder all his life, and at one point only consented to interviews while wearing his helmet and Vaderlike visor. The eerily soft-voiced bruiser was also, for a time, unable to leave his house for fear of having to interact with people who recognized him. But a well-documented recovery (thanks to therapy and medication) and a trade from New Orleans to Miami in 2002 have resulted in a more confident Williams, on and off the field. Now all the Dolphins need to do is fire their coach, shore up the defense, and bring in the aforementioned QB and offensive line.

The Florida Panthers are a mediocre team with an outstanding goalie. Despite tepid group play all around him, Luongo has been stellar this season, racking up six shutouts by late February, when he led the National Hockey League in saves and was second in the league with a stingy .934 save percentage. Luongo has gotten better over three seasons with the Panthers, turning himself into one of the league's top goalkeepers. Unfortunately (and like Miami's biggest sports star, Ricky Williams) Luongo isn't getting a lot of help from a young, inexperienced Panthers defense. Part of Luongo's one-step strategy for filling up the net: Be big. At six feet three inches and 205 pounds, there's simply not much space to squeeze a puck around him.

Good & Funky may well live up to its own hype as "Miami's hippest charity." In the thrift store's "premium" department you'll find designer bags, little black dresses, and Fifties modern lamps. But if you're looking to give rather than get, Good & Funky still is a good stop. Proceeds earned from the sale of your donations go to Grubstake, the nonprofit organization that runs the shop. Its mission: "To help women in distress establish a new home and make a new start." Your rarely worn suit could help a recovering addict land a job. That pair of pajamas you never mailed to your nephew up north might comfort a little tot reunited with his mom fresh out of rehab. Grubstake accepts furniture, computers, and cars as well -- anything that might help a woman and her family get back on their feet. But Good & Funky doesn't discriminate. Some women in distress might remain that way for a while, but they still need clothes. So there's a chance you might see last New Year's Eve's lamé camisole out on Biscayne Boulevard adorning a working girl who hasn't yet quite got up the gumption to quit. Drop off your goods or call for pickup.

Good & Funky may well live up to its own hype as "Miami's hippest charity." In the thrift store's "premium" department you'll find designer bags, little black dresses, and Fifties modern lamps. But if you're looking to give rather than get, Good & Funky still is a good stop. Proceeds earned from the sale of your donations go to Grubstake, the nonprofit organization that runs the shop. Its mission: "To help women in distress establish a new home and make a new start." Your rarely worn suit could help a recovering addict land a job. That pair of pajamas you never mailed to your nephew up north might comfort a little tot reunited with his mom fresh out of rehab. Grubstake accepts furniture, computers, and cars as well -- anything that might help a woman and her family get back on their feet. But Good & Funky doesn't discriminate. Some women in distress might remain that way for a while, but they still need clothes. So there's a chance you might see last New Year's Eve's lamé camisole out on Biscayne Boulevard adorning a working girl who hasn't yet quite got up the gumption to quit. Drop off your goods or call for pickup.

With 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline to protect, it's nice to know the United States Coast Guard has more than 200 years' experience doing its job, especially considering that the Turkey Point nuclear plant and the sprawling, wide-open Port of Miami offer tempting targets to terrorists. Since 9/11 the Guard has mobilized reserves, mounting its largest defense since World War II. Miami is receiving extra attention, and not just because historically we've been a swinging door for smugglers and migrants. The main reason Miami gets bonus protection -- more cutters, more Port Security Units, more helicopters -- is that so many desperate souls try to sneak into South Florida from their native lands of Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. With all that going on over the years, the Guard has had ample opportunity to practice the tricky business of monitoring the open ocean and the nearly infinite approaches to the mainland. Local Coasties were ready to take on terrorists even before the jihad began in force. No wonder the Department of Homeland Security celebrated its first anniversary at Bayfront Park.

With 95,000 miles of U.S. coastline to protect, it's nice to know the United States Coast Guard has more than 200 years' experience doing its job, especially considering that the Turkey Point nuclear plant and the sprawling, wide-open Port of Miami offer tempting targets to terrorists. Since 9/11 the Guard has mobilized reserves, mounting its largest defense since World War II. Miami is receiving extra attention, and not just because historically we've been a swinging door for smugglers and migrants. The main reason Miami gets bonus protection -- more cutters, more Port Security Units, more helicopters -- is that so many desperate souls try to sneak into South Florida from their native lands of Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. With all that going on over the years, the Guard has had ample opportunity to practice the tricky business of monitoring the open ocean and the nearly infinite approaches to the mainland. Local Coasties were ready to take on terrorists even before the jihad began in force. No wonder the Department of Homeland Security celebrated its first anniversary at Bayfront Park.

The tight end finished second in receiving for UM this past season, but first in catching hell for his explosive verbal slants. One somehow morphed into a long bomb. The game in question: a humiliating 10-6 loss to Tennessee. Winslow, son of NFL Hall of Famer turned TV commentator Kellen Winslow, Sr., was peeved by the cheap shots Volunteers took at his knees. Then, while tackling Winslow after a 22-yard reception, Vols tore the helmet off his head. Other witnesses said Winslow spiked the ball too hard, and refs flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the game, in which the junior caught 7 passes for 88 yards, quoth he: "It's war. They're out there to kill you, so I'm out there to kill them.... They're going after my legs. I'm going to come right back at them. I'm a fucking soldier." Now that's the fighting spirit UM pays its professional student-athletes to whip up. But Commander Coker (Larry's a coach, not an English professor) issued orders for an apology, in case Winslow's military metaphor had offended any U.S. soldiers fighting real wars. "A-N-A-L-O-G-Y! What's that spell? ANALOGY! What's that spell? ANALOGY!" Winslow blamed the refs for squelching freedom of expression. "I can't even get hyped up after a play," he told reporters. "I can't even get my crowd hyped up." But you can bet he'll get many millions of dollars when he moves to the NFL, which he's been ready to do since he was a freshman. And which he will in fact do this year.

Early last year political novices Vanessa Bravo, Cindy Miel, and Adriana Narvaez announced that they intended to oust three incumbent Hialeah city councilmen. The incumbents were toadies of Mayor for Life Raul Martinez, and so political pundits warned that the ladies would be obliterated by the well-oiled Martinez machine. But after campaigning in every nook and cranny of the county's second-largest city, the newcomers shocked nearly everyone: They trounced the Martinez acolytes at the polls by overwhelming margins. Absentee ballots, however, were another matter. The incumbents somehow managed to attract far more of those than the Hialeah Three. Bravo and Miel ended up winning anyway, but Narvaez lost as a result of the absentee count. (In a lawsuit she is claiming vote fraud; law-enforcement agencies are now investigating.) The ladies' success must have humiliated Martinez, judging from his subsequent behavior. Not a city council meeting now adjourns without him having publicly insulted Bravo and Miel.

Early last year political novices Vanessa Bravo, Cindy Miel, and Adriana Narvaez announced that they intended to oust three incumbent Hialeah city councilmen. The incumbents were toadies of Mayor for Life Raul Martinez, and so political pundits warned that the ladies would be obliterated by the well-oiled Martinez machine. But after campaigning in every nook and cranny of the county's second-largest city, the newcomers shocked nearly everyone: They trounced the Martinez acolytes at the polls by overwhelming margins. Absentee ballots, however, were another matter. The incumbents somehow managed to attract far more of those than the Hialeah Three. Bravo and Miel ended up winning anyway, but Narvaez lost as a result of the absentee count. (In a lawsuit she is claiming vote fraud; law-enforcement agencies are now investigating.) The ladies' success must have humiliated Martinez, judging from his subsequent behavior. Not a city council meeting now adjourns without him having publicly insulted Bravo and Miel.

It was a slow year for trades involving South Florida's major sports teams, but one that was executed with little fanfare turned out to be instrumental in a championship run. That was the trade for Jeff Conine by the Florida Marlins. One of the franchise's original players, Conine returned to his old club this past July, smack in the middle of a playoff chase. After years of consistently trading away good players, the Marlins finally revived trust and support among fans by acquiring a batter who was both productive and, more crucial, productive in the clutch. They had to give up nothing more than a couple of minor-league prospects. When there was a need for a timely hit at the end of close games, Conine was often the man. He played a major (league) role in the Marlins winning the World Series.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®