Story: @TamaraJolee, Dallas Mavs
Everything was different — yet still the same.
Hundreds of attendees laughed, danced, and celebrated after uniting in person for the first time in two years. The extravagant gala featured the entire team, coaching staff, legends, team executives and some of the franchise’s most loyal fans.
Show highlights included Dorian Finney-Smith belting out “Let It Go” on stage, a coaching auction item with Jason Kidd netting $120,000 and iconic trio En Vogue wowing the crowd with an epic performance as confetti rained down on the venue. A bowling prize with Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber also brought plenty of laughs — along with Tim Hardaway Jr. literally dropping the mic.
Luka Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie also threw down a smooth $80K for a visit to the State Fair of Texas with another big Tex — Boban Marjanović.
The last in-person Mavs Ball took place on March 7, 2020, and no one knew then that two years would pass before everyone would come together again.
For 728 days, the Mavericks and Mavs Foundation continued to work. The organization poured out the most significant contributions during that period, pumping over $8 million into North Texas, with many of the funds going towards COVID-19 relief.
Friday night was a moment to celebrate the past and gain momentum for the future. Work in the community is far from over.
The annual Mavs Ball is the premier fundraising event for the Mavs Foundation, bringing together Mavs fans, partners, and VIPs to celebrate the 2021-22 grantees and the charitable endeavors of the Dallas Mavericks during the season.
AT&T served as the title sponsor of the event that included a cocktail reception, seated dinner, live and silent auctions and entertainment, sponsored by Voyager.
Friday night’s glitzy affair marked a moment forward and, perhaps, one step closer to a sense of normalcy.
Tiffany Cuban said the Mavs Ball is always a magical night for the board, and she’s so thankful for all the lives that will be empowered by the funds raised. Earlier in the season, the Mavs Foundation announced plans to allocate $1 million in grant funds to empower local children, women and families in need.
“Achieving the $1 million mark is really the pinnacle of my time on the board,” said Cuban, who is married to team governor Mark Cuban. “Seeing the kids we benefit, and their faces and enthusiasm is always uplifting and special for us. It makes us feel happy and blessed. Everyone is so excited tonight and thankful to be able to give back.”
Tiffany shared her enthusiasm while standing near her husband as Mark posed for photos with dozens of attendees who lined up to meet the owner. Dirk Nowitzki also did the same a few feet away. At times, over 20 people stood in line to shake hands and meet the legend. Cuban and Nowitzki stayed to take photos and say hello to every last person. Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall was also in attendance, beaming with great pride as she visited and engaged with players, sponsors and attendees.
For many people — this was a homecoming of sorts.
All the players seemed genuinely honored and thankful to attend the event, and they spent lots of time mingling with some of the franchise’s most loyal fans.
Dončić was especially festive, bringing the crowd plenty of laughs as he joked with teammates and did a little shimmy while posing for a team photo on stage. This was Dončić at his best — giving attendees a peek into his charming personality as he told everyone that his girlfriend Anamaria Goltes “was the best-dressed person of the night.”
The star-studded Mavs Ball brought back many legends, including NBA champions like Nowitzki, JJ Barea and Shawn Marion. Meanwhile, former players Rolando Blackman, Josh Howard, Eddie Najera, Michael Finley and Charlie Villanueva also joined the festivities.
The weather even came through with an unseasonably warm night that felt more like spring. There was no need for small heaters like in past seasons. It seemed as if everything — and everyone — remained perfectly in sync to create a night to remember.
Love for the community and passion for the game was on full display at this year’s Mavs Ball. There was a sense of unity and togetherness that felt nearly palpable at times.
As En Vogue hit the stage and performed one hit after another, the crowd danced along and agreed that, yes, when you free your mind — the rest will follow.
Jason Kidd walked the blue carpet in the city where he helped win the Dallas Mavericks a championship. This time, Kidd had a new title as head coach of the franchise. New general manager and president of basketball operations Nico Harrison was right behind him.
The duo served as a reminder of how much has changed for the Mavs in the last two years since the pandemic shifted the globe.
Dwight Powell is another example of what once was — and now is.
At the 2020 Mavs Ball, the Mavs veteran wobbled across the carpet on crutches after undergoing Achilles surgery. No one knew if he’d ever play another basketball game. This year he didn’t just walk — but soared with confidence — at his seventh Mavs Ball. He’s the only current player on this year’s team to attend all the events since the Mavs Foundation started the annual gala during the 2015-16 season. Finney-Smith is next, attending all the Mavs Balls except for one.
“It’s important for events like this that reach out to the community to help kids and their families have a better life and more opportunities,” Powell said. “Any chance you have to support those causes is vitally important.”
Dallas Mavericks director of events Ashley Gambino and her team had a small window of time to execute this year’s Mavs Ball. The Mavericks played a home game (and won) against Golden State on Thursday night, and many of the trucks didn’t arrive with all the decorations until well into the morning.
Staff worked tirelessly all day long to transform the home court of the Mavs into an upscale, glamorous venue that mirrored the Golden Globes or Grammy Awards. A cascade of blue hues created an intimate environment as attendees dined on steak and shrimp for dinner and sipped their favorite beverages.
The Mavs have an early game later today against the Sacramento Kings, less than 24 hours 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 event and its overall value to the North Texas community.
Player after player told the media on the blue carpet that it was all worth it. Jalen Brunson noted that his time serving in the community with the Mavs and Mavs Foundation marked some of his top moments with the franchise.
Meanwhile, Tim Hardaway Jr. — decked out in his new walking boot after foot surgery — said he was “so excited” to attend because this was his first Mavs Ball.
“It’s great to give back, but also to come together as a team,” Hardaway said. “It builds team chemistry and bonds us together and reminds us why we play this game. At the end of the day, we always want to use our platform to help other people.”
Jason Kidd’s wife, Porschla, said she “absolutely” signed off on Kidd’s idea to donate $5,000 per Mavericks home victories this season to help local organizations. The couple seemed thrilled to give back to the community that has loved and embraced them since arriving back in Dallas.
Of course, Marjanović was a crowd pleaser and brought some of the loudest claps of the night when he sang “Sweet Caroline” on stage during a game. Hardaway Jr. also brought smiles as he sang and read lyrics to “Can’t Stop That Feeling.”
One of the newest Mavericks, Spencer Dinwiddie, charmed the Mavs Ball audience the same way he did Thursday night at the AAC when he nailed two game-clutching baskets late in the fourth quarter. He’s averaging 18.8 points and shooting 60% from the field in four games since the All-Star break.
Game night host Ali Dee congratulated Dinwiddie on his epic performance when he walked on the stage to read song lyrics during a Mavs Ball game.
“Thank you,” Dinwiddie humbly replied. “But I’m actually more nervous about this.” It was a moment that made the crowd laugh and reminded everyone how superstar athletes still have a human side, too.
All the Mavericks were in attendance for the event, except for Trey Burke and Sterling Brown, who missed for personal reasons. The rest of the players drew numbers on stage to receive their seat assignments to visit with event sponsors and other VIP guests.
Kidd created the top auction prize of the night when he gave someone a chance to bring two teams of five to the Mavs practice facility for one-on-one coaching and training. That item garnered $120,000.
Meanwhile, a trip to Slovenia with a 100-year-old bottle of wine went for $90,000 (won by Coach Kidd), and a day at the State Fair of Texas with Marjanović (won by Dončić and Dinwiddie) went for a whopping $80,000, bringing a giant smile to one of the NBA’s most beloved players.
Like usual, Powell was regarded as the “best-dressed player” on the team, an unofficial award teammates give him every season. The entire team looked dapper — with the majority of the group wearing fitted suits with lots of ankles showing this year. Assistant coach and former player Darrell Armstrong even retired his oversized suit fashion for a more fitted and streamlined look. He walked the blue carpet ahead of the event with a new step and swagger, thankful to embrace the night and moment.
This new-look version of the Mavs was refreshing.
Winning will do that to you, though.
As the NBA playoffs inch closer, Dallas is sitting at 38-25, as they enter today’s afternoon tilt against the Kings. The Mavs also just claimed a 3-1 season series against the Warriors, who sit second in the Western Conference standings. Dončić just picked up Western Conference Player of the Month honors, and he’s playing some of his best basketball right now.
Life is good.
When the Mavs Ball announced that a record $1.7 million had been raised Friday night, blue and white confetti danced from the ceiling to the beat of uplifting and hopeful music. One attendee near me leaped for the confetti and shouted: “it feels like we just won the championship!”
The seventh annual Mavs Ball was certainly a winning moment for the Dallas Mavericks, Mavs Foundation, and thousands of people in the community.
“I am so grateful for everyone that made it possible,” said Katie Edwards, Dallas Mavericks SVP of External Affairs and President of the Mavs Foundation. “To the staff that brought the vision to life, to Coach Kidd 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 $1.7 million, and I am blown away by the generosity of everyone involved.”