ADDISON – While the four previous Mavs Ball were extremely well received by those in attendance, the Fifth Annual Mavs Ball absolutely soared to new heights.

The gala was on March 7, staged for the first time at the Million Air Hangar at Addison Airport. The extravagant event featured the players on an airplane that taxied in to the hangar to greet Mavs’ fans and well-wishers.

“I was the first one to get off the plane after coach (Rick Carlisle) and I didn’t know what to expect,” forward Maxi Kleber said. “I had to look out, and then all of a sudden I hear all these people.

“But because it was so dark — you’ve got flashbulb lights — I couldn’t see all the people waiting in line for us to walk down. So, it was pretty fun and cool, but for sure different.”

The brainchild of Mavs senior event manager, Ashley Gambino, the Mavs Ball brought glitz, glamour, fun and excitement. It also raised over $1.1 million for the Mavs Foundation.

“I am so grateful for everyone that made it possible,” said Katie Edwards, the president of the Mavs Foundation. “To the staff that brought the vision to life, to coach and the players who took time away between games to be there, and to all of our friends and family who attended and donated to the Mavs Foundation, I can’t thank you enough. Together we brought in more than $1.1 million, and I am blown away by the generosity of everyone involved.”

Forward Courtney Lee also was impressed.

“This is a dope event,” Lee said. “Last year was nice, but this looks like they went above and beyond.

“They’ve got the planes inside, they’ve got the whole setup outside, a dee-jay over there. You meet people that appreciate what we do and we appreciate what they do, and it’s all together for a good cause and raises some money for a good cause.”

Guard J. J. Barea – he and center Dwight Powell are the only players on the roster who have attended all five Mavs Ball — acknowledged the added twist involved with this year’s charity event.

“They changed it up and it was different, and it was cool,” Barea said. “It was a quick plane ride, but I think it was good for the people that were there to see us.”

Actually, Barea admitted that it wasn’t an actual plane ride which landed the players within mere steps of a well-decorated blue carpet.

“We just parked our car next door and we drove the plane here,” Barea said, while laughing. “Not bad. But it was the best event and the most important event we do. It was an awesome night. Any time you can have a good time and raise that amount of money basically for Dallas – and all the things that the Mavs Foundation does — that is amazing.”

The Mavs had a home game on Mar. 6 against Memphis and a home game against Indiana the day after the Mavs Ball. So, for them to squeeze in some time for a good cause on their off day spoke volumes about the significance of the Mavs Ball and its overall value to the Dallas/Fort Worth communities.

“This is as good as it gets,” Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson said. “This is obviously an important part of our schedule, but (Mavs Ball) is more important.”

So important that Gambino and her staff set an elegant scene that was akin to the red carpet celebrities walk down while attending such high-profile events as the Oscars and Grammys. Attendees dined on various hors d’oeuvres and sipped on their favorite beverage during the reception period before chowing down on steak and scallops at dinner.

Meanwhile, Nelson gave kudos to Mavs chief executive officer Cynt Marshall for helping commandeer the most important event the Mavs will have this year outside of their first playoff appearance since 2016.

“Every little boy and girl across America that are in need, needs a shot in the arm,” Nelson said. “What Cynt has done with this ball in raising money for all the right stuff is just beyond words.

“This is just a great event.”

Guard Seth Curry agreed, saying: “It’s always a good event to see all the people come out and support a good cause and everybody getting dressed up and having a good time.”

With magician Justin Flom captivating the audience with his unique brand of eye-popping card tricks, a good time was indeed had by all.

“The food was great, the magic show was great, and you could see the smiling faces on the people,” Barea said. “They were having a great time. The donations were incredible, too, so it was great.”

A few of the silent and live auction items on tap included an autographed team basketball.

“It was definitely different from the last two years, especially coming in here with the plane,” Kleber said. “We got to meet our biggest fans and supporters, and they came here and spent their money on a good cause. So, it’s just overall a tremendous event for us to attend.”

And the added touch of arriving on a plane, it was truly an unforgettable sight to see.

“We are always looking for new ideas and ways to create a night no one will forget,” Edwards said. “You know when you come to something hosted by the Mavericks you will have a great time. And I love that we can have such a fun night all while raising money for the Mavs Foundation.”

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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