Dallas Mavs fans packed inside a local Raising Cane’s restaurant last week to celebrate the arrival of Mavs center Christian Wood, a player who has quickly become a fan favorite since he joined the franchise. Wood made a surprise appearance at the Moser Avenue Raising Cane’s in Dallas to launch the new Mavs Winter Warm-Up Drive, benefiting Austin Street Center

Austin Street served over 1,500 individuals in 2022. The nonprofit provides safe shelter and basic needs for the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Wood worked the drive-through line and signed autographs for every last fan and customer who arrived at the event.

“It’s amazing,” Wood said about the crowd. “You know, it’s my first time doing something like this…I’ve never had this many people come out to support me. So it warms my heart and means a lot. I’m happy going into the new year like this.”

Wood has been a staple in the community since arriving in North Texas over the summer. He immediately appeared at Mavs Hoop Camps to visit with local youth, and he’s quietly hosted several other meet-and-greet events this season. He can often be found visiting with children along the sidelines before games.

Just how much is he beloved by the Dallas community? One woman who arrived at Raising Cane’s said she left her job to meet the new Dallas Mavericks player. She was then promptly fired.

“How’s your new year going?” Wood asked her before signing a poster. The woman said it was good and then after a few seconds she told him: “I just got fired for coming here. I said ‘I’m leaving, bye.'”

Wood was baffled at the response and paused for a second before fist-pumping her and saying “respect.”

It was in that moment that he likely realized just how much his appearance meant to some fans.

When Wood walked through the Raising Cane’s doors, the fans sang “Hollywood Swinging,” a nod to a 1974 funk-era song that the Mavs ManiAACs sing to him at games.

“I guess I’ve adopted a new nickname out here,” Wood said while laughing. “I love it and appreciate it, so it means a lot.”

The Mavs Winter Warm-Up Drive will take place throughout January and fans who donate new and gently used winter items will get a free box combo from Raising Cane’s. Collection bins are located at the American Airlines Center throughout home games in January.

Fans are encouraged to donate new and gently used coats, blankets and other winter items for needy families.

The ability to attend NBA games is not a luxury that every family can afford, so many MFFLs who attended the Raising Cane’s celebration said it was the closest they could get to a Dallas Mavericks player.

Wood, a native of Long Beach, Calif., seemed excited to meet everyone and he was shocked at the crowd.

“I love it out here,” Wood said. “Everybody shows me love. They show me love for something little like this, and it means so much.”

When asked what motivates and drives him to give back and serve in the community, Wood said he remembers what it was like to be a little kid.

“Kids, inspiring kids (motivates me),” he shared. “I was once that little kid who prayed to meet a guy like myself at a Cane’s or an event like that. So just being an inspiration for kids across (the board) is big.”

For 40 years, Austin Street Center has worked to end homelessness in North Texas. The Center serves two highly vulnerable populations – men over 45 and women over 18, many of whom also suffer from addiction, victimization, or the unexpected loss of resources. To learn more about the organization, click here.

Meanwhile, Raising Cane’s continually ranks as one of the best places to work in Dallas. When company founder Todd Graves came up with the idea for his restaurant (quality chicken finger meals), he was told by industry experts and banks that a restaurant that only serves chicken fingers would never make it as a business. Today, the company has locations all across Dallas and 50,000 U.S. employees. The Mavs and Raising Cane’s have served as community partners for many years.

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