Welcome to the refreshed Mavs Moneyball! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Growing up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I wasn’t exposed to professional basketball much. In fact, we don’t have any major professional sports teams in the state.
Around here, people love their Southern Miss Golden Eagles (As a proud alumnus, so do I), and there are a whole lot of New Orleans Saints fans, with the Superdome only a 2-hour drive away. This is, and will probably always will be a football town, and that’s ok!
But deep down, I always had a yearning for basketball.
My love of basketball started with my grandfather (“Pop”) when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Every year, I’d go to Pop’s house sometime in mid-June and spend multiple nights there watching the NBA Finals with him. At the time, it didn’t matter what teams were playing. All I knew is that I loved every minute of what I was experiencing. The pace of the games, the pleasing visual of a perfect swish, the tight competition, I loved it all.
My passion for the Dallas Mavericks started 7 hours away from home, in the summer of 2006, on what was supposed to be a routine business trip. About twenty years ago, my dad started a utility/equipment trailer business that’s still going strong. In the earlier years of the business, my dad would have to make numerous trips to Texas, usually just outside of the DFW area.
On June 1, 2006, after picking up a pretty big load of trailers, my dad, my brother and I were making our way through Dallas and noticed a billboard that informed us that there was a Mavs game that night. After a little persuasion from my brother and I, my dad took the exit for American Airlines Center.
New to this experience, we had no idea how to obtain tickets, but luckily we ran into a very nice guy at a red light (he was a scalper, but don’t tell anybody), and we got our tickets from him. It was at that point that we realized this wasn’t just any game. This was Game 5 of the 2006 Western Conference Finals. Not only that, but Dirk Nowitzki proceeded to torch the Phoenix Suns that night for a massive 50 points. Talk about lucking up, right?
To make the hype even greater, Dallas went on to face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals that year. I wasn’t able to attend any of those games, but I did watch every one of them from home. Unfortunately, the only clear memory I have from that series is Dwyane Wade throwing the basketball as high as he could after a series-clinching win in Game 6 on the Mavs home court. Now being fully invested, that was a really bad first heartbreak to experience.
The following year, I was on top of the world when Dirk led the Mavs to league-best 67 wins, only to have my heart ripped out by the “We Believe” Golden State Warriors. I watched most of that series from my best friend’s house, and to this day, we still can’t figure out how Baron Davis and the others just could not miss a shot.
As good as my first MFFL experience was, the following years were big let downs, until they made it back to the Finals again in 2011. Not only was I excited that it was a rematch from the 2006 Finals, but the Heat had become villains now being that LeBron James and Chris Bosh had signed with Miami prior to that season.
This time, I was fortunate enough to go to one of the Finals games with my siblings and my girlfriend (now my beautiful wife, Amy, also a MFFL). It was Game 4, and the Mavs were in a 2-1 series hole. Dirk had a 102-degree fever, and things weren’t looking very good for Dallas. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it was as exciting as ever. Playing through his illness, Dirk scored 21 points to help the Mavs overcome a 9-point fourth quarter deficit to win 86-83 and tie the series at 2-2.
We all know what happened from there. Dallas went on to win the NBA title, getting revenge on the team that had broken their hearts 5 years prior. It was awesome, and thinking about it to this day just makes me feel good all over again.
Since that time, Amy and I don’t go to many Mavs games in Dallas, but we do go see them play the New Orleans Pelicans 2 times per season at the Smoothie King Center. During our time going to Mavs games in New Orleans, we’ve been blessed to meet people like Mr. Andre (read a cool story on him here, written by the great Dwain Price) and even the G.O.A.T. himself, Dirk.
Being a MFFL is more than just rooting for a team. You become a part of an entire community. You become a part of a new family. Win or lose, it’s all about just having a good time.
Basketball is just a game, but for a lot of us, it’s a release from things that happen in the real world, whether it’s our jobs or other personal problems, for at least 48 minutes.
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