The Dallas Mavericks joined service men and women from the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base of Fort Worth Thursday to pack 1,200 meals to feed hungry North Texas youth and families. The event occurred at the American Airlines Center for the franchise’s annual Hoops for Troops Commitment to Service project, sponsored by Kroger.

Throughout the season, and in honor of Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and Memorial Day, NBA teams across the country will highlight team and player support of military members and their families through Hoops for Troop’s programming.

Dallas Mavs head coach Jason Kidd also opened up practice for the military members and they sat courtside and later played shooting games together. The entire team interacted with the servicemen and women and signed autographs after the session.

The idea came from Kidd. The Hall-of-Fame point guard did something similar when he coached the Nets and Bucks. 

“This is a Mavs group effort to get the military here,” Kidd explained. “For the guys to participate, it is just a natural fit. You can see the guys had a good time. They probably wish practice was like this more often, but it is for a great cause, and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

Current Mavs employee Adam Wermuth, a disabled army veteran, and his wife Amie, also volunteered at the Hoops For Troops event. Wermuth worked with the PATRIOT missile system, an essential part of the Army’s air defense. He’s a former Mavs ManiAAC and oversees the Mavs’ website. 

The event was fantastic for the military and players, and everyone laughed and encouraged one another. Perhaps the best moment occurred when a serviceman wearing a Jason Kidd jersey nailed a half-court shot and was embraced by the Mavs team. Everyone went crazy and shouted. 

Some of the military members were most excited to see Kidd and Tyson Chandler more than anyone else, they said.

Luka Dončić took a particular interest in meeting some of the children who attended the event with their parents. Two of the young boys talked excitedly about catching sight of Dončić in person.

They were in awe when the NBA All-Star spent extra time with them and posed for pictures. Later, the children worked under the basket with Mavs assistant coaches Darrell Armstrong and Kristi Toliver. 

Natasha Livingston, a Navy Yeoman Senior Chief Petty Officer, volunteered with her seven-year-old son. She’s about to celebrate 23 years in the Navy. Her story is extraordinary because she’s a mom and a Black woman who serves in a leadership role with men underneath her. Livingston said it’s special to see how gender equality has grown over the years.

She was happy to serve at the event. 

“It’s a great opportunity today to give back with the Dallas Mavericks,” Livingston said. “It’s nice to know that we mean something to the community. Most of us here in uniform wear the uniform because we want to. It’s a voluntary service, so we’re here because we want to. The fact that the Dallas Mavericks appreciate that and are willing to share their open practice is awesome.”

Mavs forward Dorian Finney-Smith also packed lunches with the military before practice. He grew up by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Base in Portsmouth, Va., and lived near other military bases. His grandmother and brother also had jobs on the military base. 

“This is the foundation right here,” Finney-Smith said while packing lunches. “It all starts right here. You gotta get the foundation right.” He stressed the importance of a firm foundation, whether in the military or sports. 

“We are having a fun day out here,” he said, “and just working alongside the military is great. It’s always great to give back.” 

Finney-Smith went from being an undrafted free agent to recently recording his 400th NBA game. He’s long been an instrumental part of the Mavs community team and has poured out his heart over the years. Only 18 players in the history of the Mavericks have made it to 400 games. 

“I love giving back,” Finney-Smith said. “I think [the military] brought us a lot of energy during practice, and we are thankful for them protecting our country.” 

Over 70 service men and women from the 301st Joint Reserve participated in this year’s Hoops For Troops event. They represented diverse backgrounds, and many participants have logged decades of serving in our nation’s military.

Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall also packed lunches, and guard Theo Pinson gave a welcome message. Every branch of the military was represented. There were marines, airmen and sailors, and Wermuth represented the soldiers. 

The Mavs hosted a variety of stations, like decorating the lunch sacks, and volunteers wrote encouraging words of hope on the bags. The meals were delivered to The SoupMobile, a mobile meal provider helping feed North Texas youth and families in need. 

“I want to help the less fortunate and those who don’t have resources,” said Finney-Smith. “So today we went out there and gave back. We won last night, and it was fun having [the service men and women] in our world a little bit today. We love getting to serve together.” 

Food was provided by Mr. T’s Real Catfish and Burgers, a Black veteran-owned business in Lancaster. “M.E” Truitt and Romond “Romello” Truitt later opened Wings World with many locations across south Dallas. Members of the family spoke to the troops and provided hearty meals for everyone who served.

Coffee and breakfast pastries were from Lemmon Drop Coffee Co. The Dallas-based coffee company donates a percentage of proceeds to the Texas Trees Foundation.


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