DALLAS — It’s 8 a.m. after the Mavericks’ second-to-last home game of the season, and you have never seen their practice court quite like this. There’s a energetic four-on-four game going on, but something’s different about the players. They’re too short. As it turns out, they’re fourth grade boys.
The next thing you notice is the sleeping material neatly stacked all around the court. They slept here overnight, as part of the Bedgear Arena Sleepover, thanks to contest winner Julia McGuire. McGuire won 50 tickets to the Mavericks-Spurs game the previous night, a meet-and-greet with Devin Harris, a tour of the locker room, and then a night sleeping on the court with Bedgear blankets and pillows. The morning scrimmage these kids are playing might not be the most competitive game that has ever happened on this court, but you can’t knock their hustle as they zoom up and down.
“They didn’t even know what to expect and just to be able to say they slept here, where the Mavericks have practiced, is very cool,” McGuire said.
McGuire was one of more than 1,450 fans who entered the sleepover sweepstakes, and she brought her 4th grade son, 8th grade daughter and their friends along. When she first received the email, even she was a little bit surprised.
“I received one email, and I wasn’t sure what it was,” she laughed. “Finally, got one and was like, ‘Oh, wait, maybe this is a legitimate thing.’”
After the game ended, and after the locker room tour, and after meeting and playing knockout with Devin Harris, the kids finally went to sleep around 2:30 a.m.
“Once they all crashed they actually did sleep a solid five hours,” McGuire said with a tiny sigh of relief.
But the most surprising part is that you could get the 4th graders away from the Whataburger breakfast on the side of the court the following morning! Even that wasn’t enough to keep them off the court and spending their morning impersonating NBA stars.
It makes sense that Bedgear has partnered with the Dallas Mavericks this season, one of several professional sports teams they’ve connected with. Imagine the grueling travel schedule that NBA teams face, and how often they have to adjust to new hotel environments and 3 a.m. plane rides. When they are home, the Mavericks want them to have the best sleep possible — so that’s why they turned to Bedgear.
Though McGuire is a Mavericks fan, she had never really though about how tough it might be to be in that position. Going to the arena sleepover made her and the kids think about it differently.
“I definitely appreciate it more,” she said. “They just never know when they’re going to be able to catch those naps and get a good night sleep after a game because they’re just going, going, going.”
We describe NBA athletes as “superhuman” and “out of this world,” but the truth is they often have the same sleep problems we do. It applies for the last player on the bench as well as the most famous player in the world, LeBron James, who had the worst time trying to sleep after losing the 2011 Finals to the Mavericks.
"I just felt like sleep wasn't important and the only thing that mattered to me was how I was going to try to get back up there and win," James told CBS Sports last year. "It was very difficult to get sleep, because my mind was racing so much that it didn't allow me to go at ease.”
Each Maverick doesn’t just get Bedgear sheets and pillows — they received what Bedgear calls a personalized performance sleep system, which tailors the gear for each player’s sleep position and body frame.
If you watch Shark Tank, you know Mavericks owner Mark Cuban appreciates innovative, creative companies. Of course he loved Bedgear, too, because he’s always looking for a way to give his team an advantage.
“We are always looking for innovators that will help enhance the Mavs' performance — whether it's physical, mental or some combination of both,” Cuban said in a statement. “Sleep is such an important part of an athlete's life, especially when we travel and have back-to-back games, and I'm excited to see how the guys react to the products and program.”
The Bedgear arena sleepover was a good reminder of what it’s really like to sleep like the Mavericks, and now McGuire and the other participants know all about that.
Still, no one there was complaining too much about taking on an NBA player’s schedule for a day, and the Bedgear seemed to work wonders.
“It was just a really good time,” McGuire said.
Video and photos that appear in this article are all courtesy of Bedgear.