It’s been a long time since I’ve lived in Dallas, but I still get excited when the Mavericks are in the NBA playoffs.

I’ll admit, I’m not the best fan anymore. I hardly watch their games and don’t keep up with many of the players. But I still have a measure of loyalty that I can’t seem to shake, no matter how far away I move.

When I think of the Mavs, I remember “the good old days” when I started following the team.

The 1998-99 season was the start of it. That was the season that my favorite player, Dirk Nowitzki, joined the Mavs. He played alongside Michael Finley, Steve Nash, Shawn Bradley and Juwan Howard under head coach Don Nelson.

Of course now, Nowitzki is the only one still wearing a Mavs jersey. Finley plays for the San Antonio Spurs (who the Mavs topped in the first round of this year’s playoffs), Nash for the Phoenix Suns, Howard for the Charlotte Bobcats and Bradley is retired.

Also in 1998, I started playing organized basketball on my school’s junior high team. My teammates and I all loved the Mavs and had our favorite players whom we idolized.

Playing basketball and watching basketball were all we wanted to do. We watched every Mavs game we couldn’t go to, and usually threw a party to go along with it.

Tickets to Mavs’ games were like gold. When we bought our own, they were always up in the nosebleeds.

On several occasions, my dad and I got free tickets from a friend who worked at Reunion Arena (where the Mavs played before moving to the American Airlines Center).

The best seats we got were floor-level, four rows up, behind the basket.

The day after a Mavs game, I would always dig the sports section out of the Dallas Morning News and haul it to school. It would get passed around as everyone wanted to read the articles and check out the pictures.

At the end of the day, I’d cut out the good photos and interesting stories and save them. The photos went up on my closet door, turning it into a Mavs collage.

My parents graciously tolerated my Mavs obsession and even temporarily allowed me to decorate our ‘86 Pontiac with a Mavs flag and “Honk if you love Dirk” sign. And yes, people honked.

One of the best presents I received for my 15th birthday was an autographed Dirk Nowitzki basketball card from my friend, Mallory.

It was my constant goal to find some way to meet Nowitzki. My basketball coach, who had skipped out on NBA tryouts to be a singer, always said he’d get me to meet Nowitzki somehow.

It still hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t given up on meeting the “Blond Bomber” as announcers used to call him each time he sank a three-pointer.

When we moved from Dallas, all of my Mavs memorabilia came along as well.

Everything from my closet door went into a spiral notebook that I still have. Most of my Mavs collectibles are safely stored away as I can’t bring myself to part with them.

Now the Mavs, in round two of the playoffs, are preparing to face the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in game three.

The first two games the Mavs lost in Denver. Hopefully having the home court advantage will push them past the Nuggets in game three.

Maybe my dad and I can catch the game and relive “the good old days.”



Elise Loyola is a staff writer for the Clinton Herald. She has been here since November 2008 and she can be reached at eliseloyola@clintonherald.com.

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