Normally when you hear a basketball team is cookin’, you envision everyone heating up from the field and sprinting to a victory.
But, Friday afternoon, the Mavericks were actually cooking for real — with Santa hats replacing chef toques — with 50 visually impaired children from DARS Division of Blind Services. The entire team turned out to decorate gingerbread cookies and build pizzas with the kids at Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse in Dallas.
You can imagine some of the hilarity that ensued. Mavs rookie Justin Anderson has a passion for food, and although his smiley face pizza might not appear like the handiwork of a kitchen vet, Anderson said he tries to impress his guests with the presentation element more than anything.
“I have a vision when it comes to food,” he said, “and I think your presentation means everything. So, while I think that this pizza may not taste the best, because it looks the best it has a chance. I really believe that with all the food I make.”
“It’s a unique experience to be out, get away from the court, and have a little fun in the community,” he added.
Although Anderson might have the most nuanced take on cooking of anyone on the team (that’s pure speculation) he didn’t escape typical hazing during the event. Deron Williams, who set up a few feet away from the rookie, told one kid to demand more mozzarella. “Rook, can I get the cheese?” he asked, and Anderson complied.
Chef Samir Dhurandhar of Nick & Sam’s was tasked with readying each station with all the supplies the players could ask for. And while most of them were low-maintenance in terms of the ingredients necessary to put together a delicious pie, some of them — Dirk Nowitzki in particular — needed all the help he could get. The German admitted this was the first time he’d ever put together a pizza from scratch, so in between poking fun at Chandler Parsons’ pizza, Nowitzki turned to his young helpers for assistance. Ever the showman, the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history even tossed some sausage onto his pie from behind-the-back.
Chandler Parsons was especially proud of his creation, turning to Chef Dhurandhar and proclaiming, “Mine looks bangin’!” Nowitzki, of course, disagreed.
Wesley Matthews, meanwhile, was decorating gingerbread man cookies at another table. When finished, his cookie appeared very well-done, and the 2-guard was proud. Unbeknownst to him, however, it was very obvious that his helper, Andrew, did all the heavy lifting in terms of decoration. “I was delegating,” Matthews jokingly pleaded.
Once the cheffing was over, a young girl named Yasmine sang a few bars for the team, most of which recorded it with their phones. She received a heavy round of applause from the players, staff, and other children.
“Rockin’ Around the Kitchen” is part of the NBA’s Season of Giving, which began before Thanksgiving and will last all through the holidays. The Mavs have put on several events, including earlier this week when Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and J.J. Barea joined 50 kids and single moms for dinner and a gift exchange at the Hilton Anatole’s SER Restaurant. Next weekend, Raymond Felton is hosting 100 kids from the Boys & Girls Club of East Dallas for a few rounds of Top Golf.