To view photos of the event, click here.
Sixteen diehard Dallas Mavericks fans got the opportunity of a lifetime last weekend when they joined the franchise for the inaugural True Maverick Camp.
The three-day event was an immersive, unforgettable experience that allowed adult basketball players to step into the shoes of an NBA player and explore life as a professional athlete.
It was all hands on deck for the Mavs, with everyone participating, from CEO Cynt Marshall to head coach Jason Kidd and players past and present.
Military veteran JR Ford was among those who attended the camp. He arrived from Abilene and said the entire weekend was a dream come true.
He’s traveled the globe and said the Mavs have remained a constant source of inspiration.
“I’m here because the Mavs invited me because I’m a veteran,” Ford said. “They made special arrangements for me because I deal with PTSD and anxiety. This whole weekend has been beyond my expectations. You think you know the Mavs, but you have no idea until you experience this. We got mentoring from the CEO, learned about the business of basketball and outreach programs, and got to play ball with the pros. The experience really shows you what it means to be a Mavs Fan For Life. It’s because you feel like you’ve been here all along.”
The inaugural True Maverick Camp got underway on a Friday afternoon and started with a combine followed by a mock draft.
Every participant was called to the stage to shake hands with their head coach.
Legends Rolando Blackman, JJ Barea and Devin Harris all served as coaches this year.
Fallon Turner attended the draft night event to celebrate her fiance Andrew Ragnell. The couple went on their first date to a Dallas Mavericks game and became season ticket holders.
“When he first told me about the camp, I was like, yes, all across the board, you have to do this,” Turner said. “In my mind, there was nothing to think about because we love the Mavs. He lives, eats and breathes the Dallas Mavericks, and he’s been a fan since he was super young. We go to all the home games and some away games. Andrew has been having a blast since he’s been here. He said, ‘I feel like I’m going into the league!’”
True Maverick Camp brought together a diverse group of participants who share a common passion for the game. The campers represented every age group and skill level, from recreational hoopsters, church leaguers, to those who haven’t played in years.
One camper, Alan Tipton, traveled with his wife from Louisiana to make it a vacation weekend for the pair. She shopped while he sweated.
The basketball enthusiasts had a chance to play basketball daily at the state-of-the-art Mavericks training facilities for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The athletes seemed to enjoy the friendships forged just as much as the on-court action.
Aaron Wang, from Dallas, was thrilled to be a part of the camp.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Dallas Mavericks,” Wang said, “I always wondered what it would be like to play in the NBA. My highlight was listening to Cynt Marshall speak. She’s such an incredible woman. The other highlight is the camaraderie, and getting to know these other 15 guys and hearing their backgrounds and stories was really awesome.”
The event was designed to simulate the daily routines of professional athletes.
Participants underwent complete basketball training. Everything was included from skill development drills to shooting contests with the former pros. The players also scrimmaged and then competed against each other with referees in attendance.
In addition, attendees gained valuable insights into the intricacies of NBA basketball through interactive workshops, including with Mavs head coach Jason Kidd
“I thought Coach Kidd was way more personable than I ever imagined,” Ford said. “When he was breaking down the film, it was like talking to a friend and not a guy at the tip of the spear in the NBA world.”
Meanwhile, Wang shared how it was neat to see Kidd’s personality shine.
“Honestly, what stuck out to me in Kidd’s session is the speed of the game,” he explained. “I liked how he talked about Luka and the rest of the team. It was really cool.”
True Maverick Camp was jam-packed with activities from the very beginning. The athletes were decked out in official Mavs merchandise and even received jerseys with their names stitched across the back.
They were treated like family from the jump.
After the mock draft on Friday, all the campers loaded up on buses and traveled to Dallas-based restaurant Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse for dinner with some surprise guests.
Current Mavs players Jaden Hardy, AJ Lawson and Grant Williams all attended the night portion and visited with the True Maverick campers.
“I met a whole lot of players,” Ford said. “First and foremost, Devin Harris is among my Top 3 Mavs’ players. So, getting to meet him was awesome. And then I was later drafted by him, which was even better. I got to meet Grant Williams and spend a lot of time with him. Then everyone loves Rolando Blackman. He’s awesome.”
After Saturday’s film session and workouts with Kidd, the camp participants scrimmaged and got tours of various Mavs facilities.
Later that night, True Maverick participants ate dinner at NBA champion Shawn Marion’s house and he pulled back the curtain on his life.
Wang said it was a “bucket list item” to shoot hoops on Marion’s court and the True Maverick attendees also bowled at his house.
By Sunday, many campers were nursing soreness and some injuries – but they kept plugging forward.
The athletes were divided into two teams, with Harris as one coach and Blackman as the other.
The teams competed in a championship game with a scoreboard and game officials; some of the Mavs ManiAACs and D-Town Crew dancers also attended.
Blackman’s team won with a final score of 25-14. Luke Walker scored 11 points, and Andrew Rangell recorded nine points, respectively.
Marshall said the entire weekend was fantastic.
“We have people who paid to be here, and we have treated them like Mavs players,” Marshall shared. “We’ve had a great program, and all our wonderful players and legends showed up. So we’re just having a good time. The players out there are all having a blast.”
True Maverick Camp allowed men and women to live out their dreams and foster a sense of community.
As they trained alongside fellow basketball enthusiasts, friendships and memories were built. Many of the participants made plans to join up at Mavs games this season.
The entire event was much more than just a basketball camp.
“The Dallas Mavericks are an incredible organization,” Wang said. “I’ll never forget this experience. I really enjoyed meeting all the other guys and just taking it all in.”
The winning players received championship rings, trophies, and individual awards.
The True Mavericks on the winning team:
To view photos of the event, click here.