The Dallas Mavericks tipped off Mavstoberfest on Friday, their annual "Fan Jam'' that gives the die-hard Mavs enthusiasts a chance to get up close and personal with their favorite players.
Doors opened at 4 p.m., with several autograph sessions of players past and present. Rolando Blackman, Derek Harper and Brad Davis got things going, then made way for the likes of Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and of course, Dirk. Lines to enter the stadium began to quickly build, with kids and parents alike looking to grab a signature or photo of their basketball heroes.
The fun and games continued ... with a simulated game, a scrimmage featuring the 17 healthy training-camp Mavs.
The highlight of the evening culminated with fans getting the chance to see portions of a live practice and player scrimmage. At 6 p.m., 105.3 The Fan’s Chris Arnold warmed up the crowd, then handed the mic off to coach Rick Carlisle who was met with a very audible roar from the everyone in the building.
The practice portion started off with a few full court drills, as players ran the floor weaving around teammates and setting up offensive sets once getting there. Most of the plays ended with someone coming off a screen and pulling up at the free throw line, or making the extra pass for an easy layup in the post.
Once the players were warm, the Blue/White scrimmage took center stage. Carlisle coached the Blue, while a young fella named Jalen Houchins (who said he one day wanted to take Coach’s job) handled the White. When the boy was asked which team he wanted to coach, he made his Make-A-Wish clear: “Whatever team Dirk is on.”
Despite this being a scrimmage, Dirk was already in mid-season form as he barked at the referee over a blown call involving Brandan Wright. He could also be heard from across the court cheering on new teammate DeJuan Blair, who made a spin move in the paint that elicited a “Good move, Blair!” from The UberMan.
Maybe Dirk's shot wasn't quite in mid-season form, though ...
"This is my sixth (year) here and he never makes any shots in this (scrimmage),'' Carlisle said. "I think he made one which is good."
Shawn Marion stood out for the Blue squad, scoring a few early baskets and showcasing his typical high energy aided by a pair of flashy gray sneakers. Vince Carter knocked down a couple 3-pointers, picking up where he left off last season from behind the line.
The White team showcased the type of speed Monta Ellis possesses, as he got to the basket in what most would call a “blur.” Not to be outdone, Dirk drained a jumper from the right elbow (his only one?) among the flashes and clicking of many smartphones as the scrimmage was coming to a close.
Rookie Ricky Ledo seemed in his element in a loosely controlled workout. Carlisle said the kid needs to work on his "judgment,'' adding. "It’s going to depend on his ability to keep it simple. ... This is really the infancy of his career."
As the night ended, the team gathered at midcourt one last time, and Carlisle lead the arena in singing “Happy Birthday” to Jose Calderon and Brandan Wright.
Calderon, Devin Harris and Shane Larkin didn't participate in the scrimmage due to injury. But everyone joined in for the finale: As the players walked off the floor, they executed a Fan Jam tradition, showing Mavs fans their gratitude by throwing their warmups, wristbands and even signed basketballs into the stands as the thousands of fans erupted with appreciation.
"Hope everyone had fun tonight at the AAC,'' Marion tweeted later. "Thanks for coming out!''