Turning the Thing Around (again)

Two Friday nights ago, while scouring the internet for new and exciting content, I discovered that the Mavericks were playing the Lakers just four train stops from my mother’s house. I debated whether or not to go, but then figured it couldn’t hurt to at least see if I could get in the building for less than 30 bucks.

I was hoping to find a ticket for 20, but ran upon a deal I couldn’t pass on– an upper terrace seat (worth 70 dollars) for 30 dollars. Some scalpers were trying to get rid of $30.00 face value seats for up to 200 dollars. I just kept walking.

I hadn’t been to a Mavericks game since they’d played in the old Reunion Arena, back when Ross Perot Jr. owned the team (coincidentally, the first basketball game I ever attended was with my father was the 1984 playoff game against the Lakers–the only won they won that series).

By the time that Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks fifteen years ago, I was no longer living in Dallas. The Mavericks were a joke of a franchise, and the punchline of many jokes. Even people in Dallas took the time to ask the query, “Who’ll win more games this year, the Cowboys or the Mavs?”

Their ineptness led to my detachment (why in the hell would I invest my joy into a bad product?) and my detachment led me to watch other teams in the NBA, and not become a homer for any team (I think it worked out for the best).

Mark Cuban is not only one of the best owners in sports, he is also a glaring example of how one person can change the culture of a whole city. The city of Dallas doesn’t suck as much as it did when I was growing up there, and I’m sure Mark Cuban has at least a little bit to do with that.

Ever since Cuban bought the Mavericks, the city of Dallas has gotten a new basketball arena (they share the venue with the hockey team), a light rail that runs towards the outskirts of the city, and a massive growth of skyscrapers and condominiums downtown.

All that can’t be accredited to Cuban’s purchase of the Mavericks, but you also can’t tell me that the success of the franchise over the past 15 years has nothing to do with the city’s economic growth.

One of the things that makes Mark Cuban one of the best owners in sports, is that the man has attention for details. The American Airlines Center is one of the nicest venues you could ever attend an event.

It feels like a luxury hotel with a basketball court and stadium seating. Everything is immaculate, and state of the art. You will not find a single piece of trash lying on the ground, or in the arena.

The arena staff I encountered were all courteous and professional. I’ve even heard visiting players like Shaquille O’Neal say that the visiting locker room at the AAC is one of the most hospitable stops in the NBA–with a post game spread that resembles a luxury cruise buffet.

Pregame was pretty hype. The Mavs’ announcer worked hard to keep all the fans engaged. The Mavs were introduced to “Eminence Front” by the Who and fans got into that (I’m a little shocked that no rapper has ever sampled that intro and spit bars to it–I’m sure its a hard sample to clear). There were cool graphics up on the Jumbotron, and the two massive scoreboards.

The game didn’t live up to the hype though. It was the day after Christmas, and it seemed like everyone was hungover; including the fans who could barely muster any audible advantage for the home town Mavs.

Kobe sat on the bench wearing a really nice black suit (another reason why the 200 dollar asking price was laughable), and the flow of the game was really klunky. There were a lot of “Sportscenter” worthy moments, with lobs and deep 3 pointers, but the flow was just off. Both teams were in the 70’s at one point into the 4th quarter.

On balance it was still fun. Mark Cuban understands that NBA games are a product, and everything revolving around the team shapes the perception of the product. The Mavs’ drum line, the dancers, the DJ, the PA guy, and arena staff are as part of the product as the basketball team.

Mark Cuban’s comprehensive approach to handling the team (from hiring the right coach and general manager to the way he takes care of his players) is why he is one of the most innovative owners to ever buy a sports team.

Major League Baseball made a serious mistake by not selling Cuban one of their franchises. Cuban is one of the reasons why the NBA is such a progressive sport, especially compared to the NFL and MLB.

Even the most casual of fan can have a good time at an NBA game, and the reason is because the NBA is always looking forward, not in the past like baseball–a sport steeped in archaic rituals and traditions.

If you haven’t figured out what separates good franchises from bad ones, don’t focus solely on the players. Go directly to the ownership group, then look at who gets hired for drafting and personnel decisions, then watch their track records with head coaches.

In any successful organization, it all starts at the top. Being a great leader/supervisor/coach means having the confidence to hire smart people to work on your staff and allowing them to do their jobs. This is what separates the bad, mediocre, and good from the great.

Big shout out to Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks arena staff, and all those Mavs’ fans out there who stuck with the team even when they were the laughingstock of the league. The NBA is more fun to watch now that they are good again.

These games tho:

Monday

Wizards-Pelicans
Anthony Davis continues to have insane stat lines and the Wizards continue to have entertaining games against the West. I’ll check out this game until the Los Angeles “Cakeshow” rolls into Portland and the Thunder-Warriors Part Duex commence. I feel confident that this will be the Good Ass Game of the Week.

Tap that Vein Tuesday begins and ends with Cavs-Rockets. Tuesday would be a good night to rest up if you were recovering from a hernia surgery. As the cops used to say back in the day, “Move along now. Nothing to see here.”

Wednesday

The LOL Lakers versus the Clippers. It is always fun to watch the Lakers lose to their housemates.

Thursday
Miami vs. Portland You sure you’re recovered from that hernia surgery? “Tap that Vein Tuesday” has now become “Tap that Vein Thursday”

Friday

A slew of Good Ass Games. The Grizzlies beefy front line are going to put a hurting on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.

Bulls-Wizards give us a playoff preview of could only be a handful of possible interesting match ups in the East. I’ll tune in until the Phoenix-San Antonio and Cleveland-Golden State games begin.

“Psssst. Take you out on Friday? Nah baby, I need to be in bed recovering from hernia surgery (wink.wink.) The doc says I should do nothing that doesn’t involve lying in bed and watching hoops.

Saturday

Dallas vs. Los Angeles Clippers Battle of two of the best point guards in the West. Can’t wait!

Sunday
Grizzlies-Suns
Cleveland-Sacramento
Portland-LOL Lakers

“Oh baby. You’ll never believe this. Doctor says I can do non-basketball related things again. It’s a Festivus Miracle! We should go out and celebrate. You should grab your wallet in case I somehow lose mine. Grab your keys too, doctor says I can’t drive.”

Buster(s) of the Week award goes to:

The New York Police Department for showing mad disrespect to the city’s mayor, police commissioner, and the families of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, by turning their back on the mayor during his eulogy for both slain officers. #Maddisrespectful.

These men have to understand that they are supposed to be the pillars of our society. It doesn’t make poor or citizens of color feel any less distrust towards the police. I don’t see any good coming out of this situation and their behavior. It just isn’t right.

Enjoy the games and don’t be foolish with ya money!!!

Peace.

BM

@clickpicka79
bobbymickey@gmail.com

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