Professional sports organizations often find themselves in a unique position in which it’s imperative that they give something back to the community.
Saturday was one of those days for the Dallas Mavericks.
A few dozen members of the Mavs’ organization drove to West and brought smiles to the residents who experienced the fertilizer plant explosion on April 17 that killed 15 and destroyed many homes and businesses. Some members of the NBA D-League’s Texas Legends also were on hand to lend support.
“In times like these we’re all community, we’re all a part of this, even though we’re a little ways up the road,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re very proud, very pleased to have the opportunity to come down here today — the Mavericks and the Legends — to make things a little bit better for today.
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“This will be a long process to get things back to normal. But it will be done and we plan on helping these people see it through.”
The Mavs staged basketball clinics for folks of all ages, aided by former NBA standout Spud Webb, the president of basketball operations for the Legends, and former Mavericks All-Star guard Rolando Blackman.
Meanwhile, some of the Mavs Dancers engaged in clinics with local cheerleaders.
West Mayor Tommy Muska said he had the time of his life watching the Mavs ManiAACs — the team’s heavy-set male dancers — go through their routines during a basketball game between West police department and West fire department.
“That’s the first time in two months that I think I’ve really, really laughed,” Muska said. “It made me feel good, too. I’ve never seen people dance like that.”
Muska said he appreciated the Mavericks’ visit.
“To get these kids out to play for a little while and get their minds off the last two months, it’s a relief for them for what they’ve been going through,” Muska said. “They’ve lost their houses, they’ve lost their parents.
“So to have them come out here and have a little fun for just a few hours means a whole lot mentally. And I can’t thank them enough for showing their support.”
Most of the Mavs’ personnel toured the town’s devastation, which covered several blocks. Carlisle said it made an impression on him.
“It’s a very unusual circumstance, a very unusual situation,” Carlisle said. “But sometimes tragic things happen, and when they do, it’s not that it happens, it’s what do you do next, it’s how do you respond, how do people come together and how do people solve major problems.
While the citizens of West had their minds eased for a day with an assist from the Mavericks, Carlisle was also in his comfort zone. He coached the West fire department , which lost to the West police , which was coached by Legends assistant general manager and former women’s basketball great Nancy Lieberman.
At one point during the game Carlisle was seen dancing on the sideline with a little girl.
“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of months,” Carlisle said. “This was the right time to do it — for everybody’s schedule and for the people in the town.
“We wouldn’t miss it. It’s important to be here, it’s important to bring some fun to a very difficult situation and to let everybody know that things are going to be OK, but it’s going to take some time.”