Friday night was the first opportunity for fans to see all the new faces on the Mavericks in person. The AAC hosted the annual Mavstoberfest where fans are invited, free of charge, to come and watch the Mavericks go through basic offensive drills eventually culminating in a quarter-long scrimmage. Dallas has been doing this for several years now and it is a great way to connect with the fans. I may be somewhat biased in favor of this event, though. The first time I ever saw the Mavericks in person was when they held an event like this, it was not called Mavstoberfest yet, at my college. They invited the students to come watch them practice and scrimmage and was just a simple joy. Also, Jason Terry really knows how to work a crowd.
Not all the players participated on Friday. Devin Harris and Shane Larkin, both recovering from injuries, did not participate. Harris, though, is out of his walking boot. Also, it was announced early in the day that Jose Calderon would only take part in drills and would not scrimmage. When Rick Carlisle introduced Calderon, he mentioned that the team hoped to have him as a full participant in Sunday's practice.
Before the players came onto the court, fans were entertained by the fan cam on the jumbotron which featured a bevy of children dancing to Jay-Z's entire pop catalog. The Mavs ManiACCs were also patrolling the sidelines tossing beads and t-shirts into the crowd. I have never fully understood the appeal of free plastic beads and t-shirts. That is not to say that I have never zealously coveted them, though.
Once the players did take the floor, they began stretching exercises. A few minutes in, Carlisle began introducing the players. Despite all the controversy, if you can call it that, that Monta Ellis has surrounding him, he received an enthusiastic ovation from the crowd. The fans also warmly welcomed back Harris. And, of course, Dirk Nowitzki was greeted with an uproar.
Offensive drills consisted of both full and halfcourt drills. Some were 3-man and others were 5-man sets. The most interesting drill they did was called cutthroat. This consisted of three teams of five playing continuously. Two teams would play on one end of the court. If one team scored, the other would then take the ball out of bounds and then advance it to the other end of the court where the third team waited to play defense.
While the team was playing cutthroat, it appeared that Dirk injured his left thumb. He was tended to by trainer Casey Smith on the sideline who taped it up. It didn't appear that it was anything serious as Dirk continued to play.
Finally it was time for the scrimmage. The Blue Team consisted of Renaldo Balkman, Vince Carter, Samuel Dalembert, Wayne Ellington, Bernard James, Ricky Ledo, Shawn Marion, Mickey McConnell, and Fab Melo. The White Team, coached by a kid from the Make A Wish Foundations, had DeJuan Blair, Jose Calderon (who did not play), Jae Crowder, Devin Ebanks, Monta Ellis, D.J. Kennedy, Gal Mekel, Dirk, and Brandan Wright on it.
McConnell, a rookie out of St. Mary's, ran point for the Blue Team as they took an early lead and never looked back. It was a blowout as the Blue Team won by 16 points. The score is not what matters though. What matters are the show and the interaction with the fans.
Mark Cuban has cultivated a strong and dedicated fanbase through events such as these. They forge a personal connection between the fans and the team. This is imperative if a team hopes to garner the support of a city or community. These are people that shell out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to attend a game if they can even afford to go. Perhaps events like Mavstoberfest will be the only opportunity for some to see the Mavericks in person this season. And that is what makes events like this so important. Plus, it is just damn fun.
Some takeaways from the evening:
- If Dirk and Monta get on the same page, it could make for an interesting two-man game.
- Jay-Z has a lot of songs.
- Michael Finley sat next to Cuban at the end of the scorer's table throughout the evening.
- The Mavs have a new bench with fancy cushioned seats. Phil Jackson would be jealous. The away team will still sit in basic folding chairs.
- Sean Heath, the Mavs' P.A. Announcer, called Crowder "The Beast" at one point. Is this a thing? Really? If so, it needs to stop now.
- The Mavs have their own version of Blurred Lines. Seriously.
- After the scrimmage, the rookies had to sing happy birthday to Calderon and Wright.
- The Mavs Dancers are good at dancing.
- Seeing Fab Melo in person is kinda cool.