Glitzy Mavs Ball raises more than $1.3 million, shows franchise’s strengthened connection to fan base

PUBLICATION : dallasnews.com
AUTHOR : By Brad Townsend
DATE : 3/2/2019
DIRECT LINK : https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-mavericks/mavericks/2019/03/02/glitzy-mavs-ball-raises-13-million-shows-franchises-strengthened-connection-fan-base

In the latest indicator of the Mavericks franchise’s upswing, its fourth annual Mavs Ball (presented by Smith Thompson Home Security) on Friday night had to move from Deep Ellum to a larger venue.

Much larger. As in American Airlines Center.

No doubt the evening’s entertainment, Boyz II Men, was part of the allure for season-ticket holders’ and corporate sponsors’ gobbling of well over 100 dinner tables spread across the AAC’s floor level, but the Mavericks’ improved basketball fortunes certainly helped.

Shortly after Boyz II Men took the stage at 10 p.m., it was announced that the goal of raising $1 million for Mavs Foundation charities had been well-exceeded: $1.3 million.

“It’s just gotten this big,” owner Mark Cuban, pausing on the “blue carpet” for photos, said on his way into the event. “It got skinny for a while there. Now, we didn’t have enough space.

“It’s awesome. We try to do a lot with the foundation, and I think the combination of people supporting us and Dirk’s last year and Luka, the excitement’s there, and I think we just continue to re-connect with [season-ticket holders].”

Though Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t said whether his record-tying 21st NBA season will be his last, it widely has been feted as such, just in case.

Dallas’ love and appreciation for Nowitzki cannot be quantified, but Friday night provided gauges.

The first was the standing ovation Nowitzki received when he was the last Maverick introduced onstage. Later, in a jaw-dropping moment, a dinner for seven with Nowitzki at Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse was live-auctioned for $200,000.

Immediately after the first wave of bidding, another dinner with Nowitzki fetched $140,000. Amid two more standing ovations in the wakes of the winning bids, Nowitzki visibly was flabbergasted.

“We have some great season-ticket holders that are very gracious and support this event tremendously over the years,” Nowitzki had said on the blue carpet before the event, alongside wife Jessica. “We’re doing some great stuff with the Mavs Foundation. Everybody gets involved in the community, so it’s been a great thing.”

Entering Friday night, the Mavs Foundation, in its 22nd year, had granted more than $5 million to nonprofit organizations serving children, women and families in need.

According to MavsFoundation.com, the foundation has built 40 safe Learn & Play spaces throughout North Texas, including 24 basketball courts and 16 Reading & Learning Centers: “These spaces are designed to expand learning opportunities for reading and education programs, as well as provide Computer Labs and access to technology to assist teens and adults with job-skill training and other valuable tools.”

Money raised from Friday’s Mavs Ball will go to these grant recipients: CitySquare, Community Partners of Dallas, Dallas 24 Hour Club, Essilor Vision Foundation, Hope Supply Co., Hunger Busters, Jonathan’s Place, Leukemia Texas, Mission Impossible Kids, POETIC, Voice of Hope and YMCA Waxahachie.

“Season-ticket holders are here in big numbers, and they are the lifeblood of the franchise,” 11th-year Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “A lot of these people have been around for a long time. Any time we get a chance to get closer to them it’s a big win for us.”

The night included a surprise moment: Through the efforts of Carlisle and Smith Thompson Security founder Mark Thompson, Mavs Maniaac captain and one of the dance team’s original 2002 members, was presented with a replica 2011 Mavericks NBA championship ring.