Thrashman Road Trips To Dallas For The Mavs’ Championship Parade And Lives To Blog About It
The alarm clock says 5:04 a.m. which means it's actually about 4: 55 and it hasn't even gone off yet but I'm juiced for today's celebration kind of like a kid on Christmas Eve. Might as well go ahead and roll out and get ready to celebrate the Dallas Mavericks' first world championship in the 31 years of the team's existence. Not to mention the first Dallas team to bring home a title since the Stars did it in '99.
My bro Alex rolls in from Vernon right at 6:00 a.m. as planned (even though he forgot set his alarm...obviously every bit as pumped as I am) and I get a few things together, kiss the wife and kids and we're on our way.
A Sausage McMuffin and a large cup of coffee clear the cobwebs from last night's pre-parade celebration as we crank up some old-school metal and the conversation quickly turns to the awesomeness of what the day holds and how much we love the big German that was the undisputed key to the Mavs' championship. I love Dirk Nowitzki...always have. When others would trash him for being soft or flopping, I would remind them of how fundamentally sound his game is and that I believed he had one of the biggest hearts in all of professional sports. He proved me right.
Little sister Glenna lives in North Richland Hills and holds the key to our joining the Championship Rally at the American Airlines Center after the parade in the form of two tickets waiting at will-call. We swing by her place only to find out that she's decided to watch the parade on TV and just go to the Rally instead of dealing with the crowd and the traffic. Not us...we're on a mission.
Turns out traffic isn't so bad if you know what areas to avoid and with the help of the (how did I get by without this before?) Google maps app on my smart phone we find ourselves approaching the AAC with plenty of time to spare. The lack of vehicular traffic along with the abundance of pedestrians in Mavs gear tells us we better turn around and find a place to park and join the march.
We find a parking spot for the Dallas DART Transit and since the media's advising that very method to get to the parade, that's the route we're taking. Or maybe not. A kind gentleman in a Mavs t-shirt tells us a DART employee just advised him that the trains were filling up at earlier stops and aren't even stopping at this station. Looks like we're hoofing it.
A half hour and a couple of aching feet later we arrive at AAC. I throw a couple of bones in the singing cowboy's tip jar for his spot on rendition of Rawhide (where the hell's a bullwhip when you need it?) and since it's after 10:00, the parade's started and knowing the parade wraps up there we'd better go ahead and find our spot.
I'm hearing estimates of 220,000 people showing up for the parade and believe me, the majority are in and around AAC and adjoining Victory Plaza. This is the place to be on the planet right now. The streets are packed and people are literally putting their health at stake by hanging off of the parking garages in hopes of getting the absolute best view of the parade. I'm not big on heights and figure since I'm a little taller than average a spot near the street is fine for me.
We find a spot about ten feet away from the road right next to a couple of vans pumping music with an MC giving updates on the location of the parade and it turns out to be a wise choice. We wait maybe twenty minutes before the front of the parade reaches our location and madness ensues. Not bad madness, good madness...these folks came to celebrate a championship and have a good time, not start trouble.
The team's mascot, Champ, leads the parade followed shortly by owner Mark Cuban hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy followed shortly by head coach Rick Carlisle. And here come the players and things start to get really loud. Shawn Marion is out front of the first group of players and he's doing his best to pump things up and it works. The frenzy continues and the crowd gets even louder when the float bearing Tyson Chandler comes by. At this point we've seen almost everybody on the team and we know what's up. Just like the calm before the storm, the crowd hushes a little before erupting in the chant of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" and it's on. Right in front of us are Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and NBA Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzky pumping his fist in the air, screaming and smiling from ear to ear. This was the moment he worked so hard for.
There are a couple of corporate floats still to come but I have to agree with one of the guys in the crowd when he says, "Dirk's passed...parade's over." We join the march headed back to AAC and slowly make our way through the crowd where we encounter a guy handing out these stickers:
Wirk...I love it. While those three dudes in Miami were busy being rock stars, Dirk was working on his game.
Time for the rally which is exclusive to season ticket holders or those of us fortunate enough to know somebody. Where the hell is my sister? We didn't take into account for cell phone service being horrible due to the amount of people in downtown Dallas and hadn't arranged a meeting point. Texts aren't going out, much less phone calls and uncertainty fills my brain. We have to make this rally. It's only about 11:30 and the rally isn't due to start until around 12:30 so we decide to walk around and take it all in.
Man it's getting hot. I think I actually saw the Devil sitting on a curb patting his forehead with a wet towel. Where the hell is my sister? Come on cell phone...don't fail me know. But it does, time and time again. Isn't there a guy selling beer around here? We find a dude with a keg of Bud Light selling cups for three bucks and grab a couple. That's better. We're starting to get antsy as 12:30 approaches and finally we're able to get calls and texts to go through only to find out she's having trouble getting to the venue. Of course, we can't go on in because the tickets at will-call are in her name so we wait...and wait.
We're hanging out by the North Entrance when we hear a security guard offer to let the few people still hanging around into the event for free and I decide to be a good brother and wait because I'm thinking she'll be here any minute. Turns out to be a bad choice as we head around towards the East Entrance and she's still trying to get parked. We see on the big screen in Victory Plaza that things have started and my temper begins to swell. I have to be a part of this. We head back towards the East Entrance when we see a group of screaming kids headed towards the entrance...looks like they're letting people in for free now so we join the mad dash and we're in.
We make it up the escalators and into the nosebleeds just in time to see Rick Carlisle take the mic. The talk turns to Dirk, the crowd goes crazy and here comes the M-V-P chant. The big German's clearly overwhelmed with emotion as he wipes the tears from his eyes as members of the crowd tear up and feel the power of the moment. We get to hear from Jason Kidd right after coach Carlisle followed up by Tyson Chandler, Dirk, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson and eventually the mic was passed around to every player on the team. Mark Cuban wraps up the rally with an emotional, teary-eyed speech as the fans chant, "Thank You Mark!", to which he quickly turns to the players and bows repeatedly as if to say "I'm not worthy"...an exceptionally classy move.
It's awesome to hear what the guys have to say and to share their moment, but more than anything it's all about the championship atmosphere and camaraderie with my fellow fans, complete with the confetti that would've been dropped had the Mavs won the series at home wrapping up the rally.
My work is done here...time for brisket tacos and cold beer in Lower Greenville. Hacienda On Henderson sports a sweet patio, only Mexican beer on tap, hot sauce with bite, a casual atmosphere and reasonable prices. We head to the patio for some fresh air just in time to see Brett Gardner hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning to complete the Yankees sweep of the Rangers. Oh well, not a perfect day but still a damn good one to be a Dallas sports fan. Time to get our check and head to the house.
As we head down I-30 it becomes apparent that we can't possibly leave the metroplex without hunting for some sweet vinyl at Forever Young in Grand Prairie. I really need a couple of hundred bucks that I can spend without remorse when I go in that store to really do it right but I'm happy to come away with a couple of records. I pick up an original version of AC/DC's Powerage and Alex insists on buying me Iron Maiden's Live After Death as yet another wedding present, so yeah, I'd say I scored.
We roll into The Falls around 9:30 and Bubba's waiting patiently for dad to get home but immediately moves his attention to the records I've brought...I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. We have a beer and revel in the day that was before Alex hits the road.
Yes, today was a good day.