I spent a lot of my time at the American Airlines Center in 2014 and saw many things. I've written about all those things I saw involving basketball, but as we begin the final hours of the year, it seems fitting to publish an encyclopedia of everything not involving the sport. When you attend games in 2015, here are some things you should know about.
ANTHEMS: The best anthems are sung briskly with some heart. Standouts include Michael Borts (he's great), barbershop quartet Acoustix and a guy who blares it out on a saxophone whose name I can't remember his name.
BLIMP: Before the Mavericks game, a blimp circles the skies of the American Airlines Center. It always sways perilously close to the Stars banners hanging from the rafters. I fear one day that it will dislodge one of them somehow, as unlikely as that probably is, and then I spend the next five minutes trying to figure out the consequences of a 40x20 foot cloth banner falling onto fans. All I end up decided is that there's probably a ton of dust on those things.
CAMERA, DANCE: You learn a lot about a person by the extent they'll go to embarrass themselves in front of 19,000 people while trying to win a dance contest with no tangible rewards. You also learn a lot about their consumption of alcohol.
Regardless, Monta Ellis Jr. is forever the greatest dance cam participant to ever participate. Ever. This is not debatable.
CAMERA, KISS: The worst, yet I can't ever not watch. Its only redeeming moment is when a couple barges into the view of the shot and steals the spotlight from the couple the camera had intended to target. Also, a public service announcement to literally every teenage boy: you'll look back fondly on many memories of high school when you're 33, but trying to use tongue on your girlfriend when they put you both on the big screen of a Mavs game won't be one of them.
DECOR: The walls of the media room, press box and other areas are lined with huge photograph prints of events that have taken place at the AAC. You can find historic moments and gorgeous pictures of games and concerts, and when you look closer, you realize that these are updated frequently. Mike Modano's jersey retirement is immortalized on one wall, and a picture of bearded Dirk celebrating a made 3-pointer has been hanging since last year. I'm still waiting for this picture to make it up on a wall somewhere, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.
DISCO BALL: Above the Mavericks basket a little higher than the scoreboard is a large silver disco ball.I've been coming to games at the AAC for four seasons and never notice its existence until someone pointed it out last month. How did I go four years without notice a disco ball, literally one of the most obtrusive and eye-catching objects known to man?
ELEVATORS: The one that takes you up to the press box is very slow but the elevator lady who operates it is very nice. I think that's all I need to write about elevators.
ENTERTAINMENT, HALFTIME: For a blogger, halftime is a chance to scurry on down to the media room (see: MEDIA ROOM) or write a couple paragraphs of a story, so these don't take center stage for us like timeout entertainment (see below). They usually involve some man, woman, man and woman, man and man, woman and woman or SOME OTHER VARIATION of people balancing or doing tricks on tall things or tall people that look unstable. Sometimes they balance and do tricks at the same time. It's all very fascinating and basically the same thing.
ENTERTAINMENT, TIMEOUTS: Unlike halftime entertainment, timeouts are much more blogger-friendly. Here is a power ranking of what the Mavs have.
1) Whataburger Fry Toss. Absolutely the best, involving two contestants tossing three-foot Whataburger "fries" (imagine foam pool noodles) about ten feet into an oversized fry bucket. The strategy is varied, but long observation of the art has made it clear the underhanded toss with some arc is most effective. Too many times I've seen competitors lose because they toss it too shallow and it pops right out. The winner gets a chance to make a red fry for a chance at free Whataburger for a year, so of course this is the best one.
2) Mavs drum line. I love drum lines. Everybody loves drum lines.
3) Basketball skill competitions. If they're bad at basketball it's funny and if they're good we root for them.
a bunch of advertisements for #brands disguised as entertainment. Can't trick me, Statefarm Discount Double Check Insurance Policy Half Court Shot.
928,244,512) There is a competition that involves two teams of two "building a hamburger." Four or five 'pieces of the hamburger' -- which really just look like those rounds carpets you'd find in a funeral home that somehow take the shape of whatever you lay them on except these vaguely resemble cheese and tomatoes -- are stretched out in a straight line. There is absolutely no trick or skill to this -- one contestant lays at the end of the line while the other runs, grabs these hamburger-carpet-things, lays them on their partner and runs back for the next one. It's literally the suicide drill your high school coach made you run in basketball practice, and they're trying to it off as timeout entertainment.
Anyway, it ends with the contest jumping on his partner (the "bun") to complete the hamburger, and it's always the guy jumping on his wife or significant other, and I'm already cringing when one couple tells their grandchildren, "Yeah, on our first date I jumped on your grandfather here to make a hamburger."
LOCKER ROOM COURTESY: When two dozen media members are trying to get their phones close enough to hear the mumbles of a player after the game, you have to take advantage any crease or crevice in the pack. I'd like to think that we media folks -- non-athletes writing about and passing judgments about individuals who perform at the peak of the human body's ability -- play our Game 7's here.
Strategy is crucial. Injuries are inevitable. I've run perilously close to getting elbowed by Dirk because I'm at an angle outside of his peripheral vision, and one time, Chandler Parsons nearly threw his towel on me. Our own Rebecca dropped her phone into the scrum below a player while trying to collect audio, which means her career assist turnover ratio is 0:1. Starting a question with "talk about" or "how did you feel" is no different than bricking a shot off the rim, yet there are plenty of Swaggy P's in the locker room who show no shame, continuing to clank questions off the rim until night turns into day.
MEDIA ROOM: If you pay for a ticket you can get a nice meal, plus dessert and a drink. There are hot dogs at half time if you're into that sort of thing. If I miss dinner I'll sometimes go down and get one. I'm not saying they're awful, but with each bite I try to focus on something, anything else to forget what I'm currently eating. So yeah, not bad.
SEAT 14: It's the same as every other seat up in the press box, yet Mavs.com's Bobby Karalla has claimed that one as his own for some reason. It's only funny when someone else takes it before he can get there.
T-SHIRT CANNON: Fired from court level, this thing is probably a repurposed missile launcher from the Iraq wars. You'd think the press box, as far away from the action as you can be, would be a safe zone, until a loud crack of a shirt hitting the wall right beneath you snaps you out of your Dirk-just-did-something-awesome-fueled haze and makes your life flash before your eyes.
TRANSPORTATION: Parking is expensive, but sometimes, you have to make sacrifices for the people you love. Just be careful out there. The world
of public transportation is a scary place.
@tim_cato Not really AAC, but on the TRE from the way home from a Mavs game I sat across from a drunk clown who was making balloon animals.— Josh Bowe (@Boweman55) December 31, 2014