The Dallas Mavericks haven’t played basketball since March 11th and with the NBA returning in July, it’s time to look at what’s happened in the hiatus.
One hundred and six days ago the Dallas Mavericks won their last basketball game before the pandemic we’ve all become far too familiar with shut the league down. Over a HUNDRED days with no basketball played, no playoffs discussed, no offseason to prep for, no draft positions announced, nothing. In this one hundred plus days, everyone’s life has changed, no matter who you are. The only way to look at what’s happen is through the way each person experienced this unique time.
For me, I was sitting in a hospital room for the 7th straight day when I heard Mark Followill announce on the Fox Sports Southwest telecast that the league would suspend play indefinitely with the most uncertain of sign offs I can remember. I had been watching the game to have some sense of normalcy while I was in the hospital dealing with my newborn twin baby girls being in the NICU, which was as far from normal life as I could imagine at the time. We were sleeping for 45 minutes at a time and then tending to our babies for 2 hours and repeating this cycle for, at this point, 7 days. It had been a grind and a good basketball win was just what we needed. However in the small window of time that we’d been confined to the hospital, a pandemic had crossed the globe and brought Covid 19 to our country so veraciously that it shut down all sports leagues in a matter of days! Knowing that the brief escape sports provided me was leaving was both a shock and the last thing I needed to hear in that moment.
However, as the next few days progressed, the Mavs, amongst many other teams and athletes, showed why we love sports in the first place. Seeing Mark Cuban make appearance after appearance stating that his primary concern is the health and wellbeing of everyone and saying that he would be paying arena staff himself to support those who would be losing incomes from the season ending made me proud of my owner. In addition to that, players like Luka and Dwight opted to use their platform to educate their fans about the new concept of “social distancing” with this video:
A few days later, my wife and I were allowed to take our girls home feeling so grateful that they were happy and healthy enough to finally go home. On our way out, we said thank you to each of the nurses who had helped take care of our babies during our nearly 2 weeks stay knowing that words were hardly enough to properly say thank you.
In a similar vein, as the world saw the burden being put on healthcare workers, Mavs Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell teamed with Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to help support childcare for frontline healthcare staff. And then a few days later, the Mavs players and coaches rotated providing meals to hospitals, testing sites and healthcare facilities working overtime to keep this community safe while supporting local businesses at the same time. After weeks of fearing the world we were coming home to, seeing our sports figures support their community was a welcome sight that basically said ‘we can all get through this together’.
While the world learned on the fly how to live some version of the life they knew just a few weeks ago, I found that life was much easier if I got my 2 year old daughter active during the day by running her through the backyard daily.
Similarly, the Mavs coaching staff sought to keep kids active while being stuck at home with instructional videos on basketball fundamentals like this:
Watch as Coach Ben shows us how we can pass, shoot, & dribble all starting from one key position! ⛹️♂️⛹️⛹️♂️ #JrNBAatHome #NBATogether pic.twitter.com/j3cZiivsui
— Mavs Academy (@MavsAcademy) April 6, 2020
I, by no means, was teaching my toddler basketball fundamentals, but the Mavs saw a need to engage children in a world that had become suddenly more sedentary and addressed it for their community.
As April and May brought some semblance of “new normal” to my chaotic household, where we were swabbing everything down with Lysol and using more hand sanitizer than we’d done in our entire lives, the Mavs focused in on the home life of their littlest fans, launching a “Mavs Fit” initiative in partnership with Scottish Rite for Children to reinforce good health and active lifestyle pointers that would keep kids healthy during this prolonged pandemic.
They also instituted a Reading Challenge with Whataburger to keep young minds engaged during the absence of a normal school environment with over 2.8 million minutes read across the Mavs fanbase in just over a month.
In June, as households across the country engaged in difficult conversations and found the courage to stand up for the injustices committed against the black community in this country, the Dallas Mavericks stood with those who sought change to this issue.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) June 3, 2020
Mark Cuban as well as Dallas Mavericks Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber and Justin Jackson attended a prayer gathering in Dallas for Justice Against Racism at the end of May and through June has been very vocal that he wants to be an active part in changes to systemic injustices that have been brought to light in this country.
He spoke to The Ticket radio station on the subject and the transcript of that conversation was published by the Dallas Morning News below.
Mark Cuban discusses his increased awareness on systemic injustices, support for player protests and more http://t.co/fxuXD8CQU0
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) June 21, 2020
And as every human in this country is either going stir crazy or cautiously and slowly re-enters the world, news came down that the NBA is planning a return by the end of July! As summer madness set in, the NBA gave the glimmer of joy that only sports can provide by saying that basketball WILL be back, albeit in a somewhat UNIQUE fashion, the details of which are available from DALSportsNation’s own RC Takes.
As we all wonder how much our lives can return to normal, a huge piece of every MFFL’s life returns right as we needed it most. By the time the NBA is playing actual game action, over a 1/3 of a year will have passed since the last regulation buzzer rang out, which is longer than most of us have ever been without basketball in some form or fashion.
Sports might not be the highest of concerns, as we have all dealt with matters of greater community importance, but it does offer us something to root FOR instead of something to root against. Basketball will offer the community that the Mavs have been tending to over these past 100+ days a new rallying point as well as some potential feel good stories we all sorely crave.
As for me and my newly grown family, my new daughters are already wearing Mavs onesies and I can’t wait to show them what our team is made of. My toddler got to know Boban and Maxi and Luka 3 months ago before play stopped, and I cannot wait to let her get to know the rest of the guys over the last bit of this bizarre season.
Mavs are making the playoffs for the first time in 3 years and it’s going to be great to see playoff basketball in….AUGUST?!?!
Weird. Oh 2020…
Featured Image: Smiley N. Pool/Dallas Morning News