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Mavs Ball 2017
By Bobby Karalla
Where can you go to eat dinner with Dirk Nowitzki, take a selfie with Wesley Matthews, and watch Deron Williams assist a magician, all while supporting a great cause?
More than 600 Mavericks fans did just that this weekend at the second annual Mavs Ball, a fundraiser and gala benefiting the Mavs Foundation. Taking in live jazz from the Taylor Pace Orchestra and some incredible sleight-of-hand by Dan White, they were treated to a night of top-notch entertainment, with all the proceeds going directly to the Dallas community.
“The Mavs are super supportive about being in the community and helping give back,” Mavs forward Harrison Barnes said. “That’s what it’s all about when you get to this level, being able to give back to the next generation so they can turn and do the same thing.”
Mark Followill and Dana Larson emceed the event in a full house at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum. Well-known for hosting incredible concerts, the venue was completely transformed into a magical environment to match the mood of the evening.
Including both the silent and live auctions, Mavs Foundation supporters together raised almost $700,000 for the Foundation in a single evening. To date, the Foundation has granted more than $3.5 million to nonprofit organizations serving women, children, and families in need. In addition, it has created Reading and Learning Centers and basketball courts across the North Texas community.
“I appreciate everybody coming out and supporting us, and raising money for the organizations that we serve,” said Floyd Jahner, president of the Mavs Foundation. “That’s the important part. That’s what it’s all about.”
Mavs owner Mark Cuban echoed a similar sentiment, acknowledging the excellence of the entertainment while stressing the importance of the evening to what the Foundation hopes to accomplish in the community.
“In reality, it’s not just about having fun,” Cuban said. “It’s for the Mavs Foundation. We really try to give back and try to contribute wherever we can.”
Grant recipients for the 2016-17 year were also recognized and celebrated that evening, and are as follows: Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington, Dallas CASA, Family Gateway, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, Nexus Recovery Center, and Readers 2 Leaders.
The players, who are of course competitive by nature, had a contest of their own going on throughout the evening. Each tried to outdo the other’s suit, with nearly every player sporting Mavs blue. The goal: Be the best-dressed Maverick.
“It’s a lot of fun dressing up and seeing everybody come out and support the Mavs Foundation in a setting where people don’t really get to see us like this,” Wesley Matthews said. “It’s fun. It’s a good escape from basketball, and it’s always a good time.
“It’s always good for people to see us outside of our uniforms, and for us to see them outside of cheering.”
Matthews was a popular pick among the players for best-dressed, although Matthews himself predicted first-year Mav Seth Curry to be the best-dressed. Upon hearing the news, Curry could only smile. Still, Matthews was proud of his ensemble. “I think I did alright,” he said confidently. “I don’t think I disappointed.”
Fellow first-year Maverick, rookie Dorian Finney-Smith, actually wore a blue suit given to him as a gift by his teammate Harrison Barnes. “I feel like every rookie’s got to have a good suit,” Barnes said.
Hearing that story later, Cuban recalled his first-ever formal occasion, for which he was woefully unprepared.
“The first time I had to wear a suit, I borrowed one,” he said. “A guy named Billy Cunningham, who played for the Indiana basketball team. I never owned a suit in my entire life when I got to college. I got invited to a sorority dance, didn’t have a suit, and so Billy Cunningham hooked me up.”
Hilarious stories like these can really only be told at events like the Mavs Ball, where all members of the organization come together for a night of fun and entertainment to benefit a great cause. Outside of that evening, the team is only focused on competing and winning games. But, for one evening, they forget all of that and have a blast with each other and with Foundation supporters.
“The fans come out, supporters of the Mavs Foundation come out, the players all come out, and it’s for a great cause,” Cuban said. “We get to have a whole lot of fun.”
Event photography by Danny Bollinger, Carter Rose and RAP Photo Company.