Dallas Mavericks

Tony Romo won’t play in game, but Mavericks have big plans for tribute

Before they went through the process of honoring quarterback Tony Romo and making him a “member” of the Dallas Mavericks for a day, coach Rick Carlisle said they ran the entire scenario by the Dallas Cowboys’ organization.

Carlisle said the idea, which he agreed to, was initially raised by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

“I think people also need to know that this entire idea was run by the Cowboys’ organization at the highest level with (Cowboys owner) Mr.(Jerry) Jones,” Carlisle said Monday on ESPN Radio. “Mark contacted Mr. Jones about it, (Jones) was enthusiastically in favor of it, thought it was just a wonderful idea.

“I talked to (Cowboys coach) Jason Garrett about it three nights ago at a dinner he and I were at and he couldn’t have been more pleased, and he’s going to be at the game. I understand there’s going to be a lot of Cowboys players at the game, too.”

While Romo will be in uniform and will go through the pregame and halftime warm-up drills, Carlisle said he will not sign a contract or play in Tuesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets at American Airlines Center.

“He’s not going to be signing a contract — that’s not really feasible for some different reasons,” Carlisle said. “But he is going to be with us for a day, he’s going to participate in (Tuesday morning’s) shootaround, I’m going to put him on the scout team — the Denver scout team — to do our walk-through stuff.

“He’s going to be assigned a shooting time before the game with all our other guys, he’s going to suit up and be in the warm-ups, and he will be introduced and we will have a tribute to him.”

And why won’t Romo play in Tuesday’s meaningless game, if not for just five or 10 minutes?

“To give you a little bit of insight, it’s not a good idea to take a football athlete and throw him in an NBA basketball game,” Carlisle said. “It’s a completely different sport, number one.

“Number two, to sign him we would have to go through just a tremendous amount of screening, physicals, all of that kind of thing. It’s just really isn’t in the best interest of anybody to do that.”

Maybe not, but the Mavericks initially wanted to give the illusion that Romo would play in Tuesday’s game. But they’ve seen changed that stance.

“I think it’s important that the fans coming to the game and watching on TV understand that he won’t be playing,” Carlisle said. “Now he will be introduced as part of our intros, and there will be a short ceremony and (forward) Dirk (Nowitzki) will say a few words and there may be a couple other people involved as well, but he will not be playing.”

There is something else important, which Carlisle mentioned, that Romo will be a part of.

“He will be participating in everything, including, tomorrow is team picture day,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to take at least one of our team pictures with Tony Romo.

“Just think about it, if you’re a guy that’s had that kind of an NFL career, it’s pretty cool to have a picture on your wall of you as a member of an NBA basketball team, too. I think that would be pretty cool if you’re a basketball player to have that opportunity with a football team.”

Tuesday’s game officially tips off at 7:40 p.m., but Carlisle stressed the importance of fans being in their seats for a tribute to Romo at 7:15 p.m.

“One really important thing tomorrow is for our fans to get there early, because warm-ups start at 7:15 and of course the (player introduction) is at 7:35,” Carlisle said. “We’re excited about it, our guys are excited about it and Tony is very excited about it.

“He’s a guy that’s been a great athlete in so many different sports. He’s a scratch golfer, he was a first-team All-State guy in basketball in high school (in Burlington, Wis.) ... and I’m sure he was a great baseball player and probably great in everything he did.”

Although he won just two playoff games during his NFL career and never took the Cowboys to an NFC championship game, Romo is revered by many. That includes Carlisle.

“The way his career has been here, he’s been so good and so great and played hurt and he’s just been such a rock-solid example of what a Dallas athlete should be,” Carlisle said. “We want to pay a respectful tribute to him and I know that our fans will look forward to that as well.

“We thought the ultimate honor for a Dallas athlete would be to make him a part of your franchise for a day, and so we’re looking forward to doing that. The way this thing is going to go is that after shoot-around tomorrow, Tony will go to the interview room for a very brief statement — I don’t know if he’ll take questions or not — and that will be it as far as media access and availability.”

Carlisle acknowledged that the Mavericks want to keep this entire tribute as “respectful as possible.” And with the Mavericks (32-48) out of the race for the playoffs, they don’t see anything wrong with honoring a player who holds the Cowboys career record for passing yards and touchdowns.

“This is something that we feel is a really cool opportunity for our franchise to tip our hats to what Tony has meant to us as an NBA franchise,’’ Carlisle said. “And just, both as spectators for his really remarkable career, number one.

“Number two, how supportive he’s been of the Mavericks.”

Romo, who left the NFL last week after spending his entire 14-year career playing for the Cowboys, frequently attends Mavericks games.

“He sits on that press table pretty frequently,” Carlisle said. “It’s always interesting coaching when he’s there.

“He’s kind of just got a running thing going with the referees. He’s talking to our guys, he’s into it.”

And, to Carlisle, Romo is more than just a former Cowboys quarterback.

“I’m excited about (the tribute) because Tony’s become a friend of mine, and to hear the enthusiasm in his voice about this, he just is really, I think, so appreciative that we would consider doing it,” Carlisle said. “But it just seems like a no-brainer in a lot of ways to us.”

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