Now before you begin reading this next installment, click to play the song below. It'll all make sense in a couple of minutes.
So Arena #24 would be my final stop in Texas, to visit the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. When I began to write the Dallas Mavericks, I feared that they would be one of the more difficult teams to contact. This was far from the truth as Matt Miller got back to me almost immediately after I sent my email and followed up with me on multiple occasions.
My first goal in Dallas was to meet Mark Cuban. Unfortunately however, he was out of town for this game so I'd be cheering the Mavericks on without him.
When I first set foot in the arena, I was amazed at the size of the place...it felt bigger than any of the others I had visited. Right off the bat I noticed that the "cheer sticks" were on every seat before the fans even came in. Great idea by the Mavericks! Of course this is an added expense to them, but rather than having fans fight over these or some fans receiving preferential treatment, everyone in the arena got to annoy the person in front of them with these.
Matt showed us around the concourse, which included a gift shop with talking Mark Cuban & Dirk Nowitzki dolls.
Keep your eye one the floor. From the domes above you can make out designs of a basketball player/hockey player/etc.
To the angry reader who doesn't like to see me eating out at the basketball game, you might want to close your eyes and scroll down now. The Mavs treated Shea and I to dinner at the Jack Daniels restaurant.
From the restaurant, you have a variety of great foods (including Dr. Pepper wings) and great views. On one side, you can view the players running past as they take the court. **Note that this sign is highly appropriate for this game as the Houston Rockets would be going for consecutive win number 17.
On the other side, you can watch the Mavericks on their practice court.
On this end of the court, we see Devean George and on the opposite end, new Dallas Maverick Jason Kidd.
After dinner, we went courtside to be interviewed my arena MC Chris Arnold. Great interview and received quite the reception from the crowd.
Now, before I get more into the game, allow me to explain the music. Prior to the game I was offered the opportunity to participate in the arena karaoke competition. Now I'm not entirely naive, knowing that I have a pretty monotonous tone and don't speak with a lot of animation, so I passed the opportunity onto Shea, who was previously in a band and brings some excitement to the table when he speaks. The contest occurred at the end of the 1st quarter and the song would by "Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. Unfortunately the odds were stacked against him from the start as he would be competing against a beautiful local newswoman.
I took this picture from afar, but you can spot him next to Chris in the grey sweatshirt. Now to his credit, I also thought the words would light up as you were supposed to sing them. However they did not and the song was 2 lines into it before he realized it had started. The crowd started booing. Then they started booing louder. At this point, most would have ran out of the arena, but Shea kept his composure. The newswoman however had the entire newsteam up there singing with her during her turn. Hmmm, blond hair, breasts, seeing her practice the song over and over again before the start of the game, and a well known newsteam - doesn't take a genius to know who won here.
A view of the scoreboard and of the court.
Some of tonight's broadcasters. Former Maverick Derek Harper on the local network and then Marv Albert, Reggie Miller, and Mike Fratello on TNT (sitting 4 seats away from me).
Our seats were second row courtside, across from the Mavs bench. You could clearly see me several times on TNT. Former Mavericks owner Donald Carter sat nearly right in front of us.
The Mavs have two mascots. "Champ" is probably the more well known one.
But the athleticism of "Mavs Man" is pretty darn impressive. And Yes, he completed that dunk.
The Mavericks entrance was one of my favorites to date. They started by dimming the lights and you could see blue chemical/neon lights glowing in the crowd. The Mavericks dance team did a feature in the middle of the court before the players were announced. My favorite part was when they announced Jason Terry and he came out with the "airplane wings" raised and slapped hands with some of the fans near us before returning to his teammates.
So the Rockets had won 16 straight. 5 straight without Yao. I thought the Mavs would end the streak on this night, but I quickly found that Dirk Nowitzki would be out for night's game because of suspension.
Josh Howard looking to get to the basket.
McGrady took the head fake and Kidd gets an open look.
Jerry Stackhouse happy to still be in Dallas...rather than New Jersey.
Some fun people at every Mavericks game. About 2 hours before the game, fans can show up decked out in Mavs gear/costumes/etc and a select few are chosen because of their team spirit and given free standing room tickets. In the picture below, you see the ManiAACs, who are "cheerleaders" of sort, but don't really worry about their hair or the amount of calories that they take in each day.
McGrady looking to attack the basket while Dampier and Terry are looking to help Howard contain him.
Mt. Mutombo still getting the job done after all these years.
Rafer Alston from the corner.
Shane Battier from down town
After catching a pass from Alston, McGrady dunked it home to seal the victory in the 4th quarter.
The fourth quarter wasn't all that exciting as it was all Rockets and they pulled out the victory 113-98. 17 straight.
Reggie Miller interviewing McGrady after the game.
I also wanted to show some of the items that Matt gave us...most importantly an actual autographed photo of Dirk Nowitzki and a seat topper from the NBA Finals.
Also included in our gift bags were some Sharpie markers. I didn't know why we needed 6 markers, but upon closer inspection, these weren't just any "Sharpie."
Each one read "The Preferred Autograph Pen of _______" and then had the signature of the player. We received one for Avery Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, and Erick Dampier.
Lastly, I caught a t-shirt before I left...unfortunately it wasn't all that exciting...just a Dallas Power House of Dance t-shirt.
The weather was terrible during my entire stay in Dallas. I'm going to have to resort to some of my old pictures (from MLB tour) to show the city off.
The most popular place for tourists is easily the Sixth Floor Museum & Dealey Plaza which is where former President John F Kennedy was assassinated. You can't take pictures in the museum, but it's a worthwhile look. My only complaint is that when I left, I couldn't stop thinking about what really happened on that day (they give about 14 different scenarios)
The sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald "might have" shot JFK from.
County Jail Records Building
The "X" painted on the road beside me is where JFK was hit by the first bullet.
The well-known "grassy knoll"
This thing that you would use if you wanted to drill to the center of the earth can be found at Lubben Plaza. Most interesting is that it rotates around this sand pit once every 24 hours.
At Pioneer Plaza, you'll find some bulls that I'm sure will be there when you visit.
One other thing to add, most of the speed limit signs on the highway look like this.
If you want to do some shopping in Dallas, check out the Galleria. Although I must warn, it's mostly high-end retailers.
Thanks to Matt Miller and Shea Sterner.