New Experience, Great Blessings

This past Friday evening was groundbreaking for me. I’ve still got chills from how exciting it was, and what an incredible blessing!
What was it, you ask?
It was my first ever NBA game.
That’s right. I’ve finally attended a Dallas Mavericks game. I’ve been a devoted fan since Dirk Nowitzki came into the league sixteen years ago, although other hobbies have taken over from time to time. (Namely, reading books and writing them.) Not only did I get to see the Mavs play, but their opponent was my second favorite team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Russell Westbrook going up for an
unconventional layup.
Kevin Durant shooting a free throw.
Even though it was a preseason game, it was quite entertaining and so close in score up until the very end. Since I watch as many Mavs games and Thunder games on television as my cable package delivers, I was pretty familiar with the two teams and their players. It still surprised me, though, at how quick OKC’s Russell Westbrook is off the dribble. He kicks it up a notch so swiftly, I never could get my timing right to get a great action picture of him with my camera. Kevin Durant is just as tall as he appears on TV, and I just adore that little shoulder wiggle he does when he prepares to shoot free throws. His talent for the game is real, folks. He may seem like an awkward teenager at times, with those lanky limbs of his, but he really shines when he’s running a play out there on the court. And when he sits on the bench, it’s like having another coach. He’s constantly cheering on his teammates and giving them little encouragements and instructions when he notices areas they could improve. It was neat to see these guys in action, playing the sport I enjoy watching at home so much. (As I was doing a little research for the details of this article—injuries to report and such—I found out on sbnation.com that Kevin Durant discovered he had a fracture in his right foot during Saturday’s practice. The injury will keep him out until mid to late November or even early December. This means we were extra blessed to see him play on Friday.)
Chandler Parsons
shooting a three-pointer.
I was excited to see Chandler Parsons in person. He played with Houston his first three seasons in the league, and I’ve admired his talent from his rookie season. Dallas acquired him in the offseason. He brings great three-point shots to the Mavs, along with high energy and great play around the basket. He wasn’t as on track with his shots Friday night as I expect him to be once the regular season begins. I kind of expected a time of transition, though, in which he’ll get to know his new teammates and the way Coach Rick Carlisle runs his team. I’m sure, given time, Parsons will work the kinks out of his game and rain in those three-pointers.
Gal Mekel getting open for a pass.
Another of my favorite NBA guys plays for the Mavericks: Gal Mekel, from Israel. He got in the game partway through the third quarter, which, of course, had me pulling my camera back out. This is his second year in the league, and he’s very fun to watch. He reminds me of J.J. Barea, who helped the Mavs win their only championship to this point. They both bring a spunky scramble type of play to the game that is treasured (or at least should be) by teams who vie for the league’s championship trophy each year. Hopefully Mekel will get more playing time this year than he did last season.
The American Airlines Center.
The atmosphere at American Airlines Center was incredible. Though the crowd didn’t fill the stadium (due to being a preaseason game, I’m sure), we did still get pretty loud. A tight score against a great opponent will produce that kind of energy in the AAC every time. During timeouts, the cheerleaders, mascots, drumline, and Mavs Maniaacs kept the entertainment rolling. The food was delicious (I had the sausage pizza and breadsticks; definitely recommend them). The neat thing about the gift shop is that they had Mavs gear and Dallas Stars gear. That’s because the Stars play NHL hockey in the same stadium as the Mavericks play basketball. The hardwood floor is laid atop the ice surface (I’m not certain of the details of how that’s done). Unfortunately, the prices were so high, I couldn’t afford to get Stars gear along with the Mavs stuff I purchased. I figure I can get some if I ever make it to a Stars game. That would be amazing as I started watching them pretty devotedly last season. (Their season just started up this last week, and I’m so excited to see how well they play this year.)
Mavs Drumline.
Mavs Maniaacs.
There were a few disappointments in the game Friday night, as there so often is throughout life. (Don’t get me wrong. Even with these very minor disappointments, I still enjoyed every second of the experience, and I’m still grinning about it… three days later.) Nick Collison did not play for the Thunder. I’ve been a fan of his and Kevin Durant’s since they both played with the Seattle SuperSonics. Maybe eventually I can make it up to Oklahoma City to see Nick and Kevin play in their home stadium. That’d be pretty awesome. And very loud! (They’re one of the loudest crowds in the league.)
Raymond Felton being helped off the court.

Another disappointment was Raymond Felton getting hurt shortly after coming into the game. He’s new to the Mavericks this season, and I hate to see him go down with an ankle sprain. It shouldn’t keep him out too long, as guys bounce back from sprains pretty quickly these days, but I just saw an article on cbssports.com that says he’s suspended for the first four regular season games for a gun charge. I’m not happy to hear about that charge but will be glad when he can rejoin the team.

Monta Ellis was out with a sprained left knee, and Dirk Nowitzki was out with a hip contusion. Of course, any time you get the chance to attend a Mavericks game, you hope to see Dirk play. Not seeing him play, well, that’s just motivation to attend another game when my budget allows. It’s a few days after the game, and I’m still excited about it, so I’m pretty sure I won’t mind too much having to go back again in order to see my favorite player of all time.
Dirk Nowitzki.
The last disappointment was the final score (although, since I’m a fan of both teams, I got over this quickly). The Thunder beat the Mavericks 118 to 109. The home team loss couldn’t take away the magic of the game, and I know both teams will improve as preseason and the regular season progress. I look forward to their next matchup.
Now, I’ve saved the best for last. My favorite part of the evening was spending it with my sister, Kristy, and my friend, Amanda, and her mom, Martha. Going to an NBA game was a first for all four of us, which I think made the night even more special. We could all experience it for the first time together. Since we couldn’t see Dirk play, and since we all enjoyed the atmosphere and pace of the game, we’ve decided we should plan to attend another Mavs game sometime this season. The NBA is my favorite sport to watch, so I’ll love to have another opportunity to enjoy a wonderful game with such great people. Ladies, thank you so much for a fantastic evening. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when that wall of water hit us in the thunderstorm on the drive home (praise God for keeping us safe!). Although, I’m glad we all agreed we shouldn’t repeat that particular part of the journey.

My friend, Amanda, and her mom, Martha.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Hodge.
Me and my sister, Kristy.
Back when the Mavericks won the championship in 2011, I bought a shirt commemorating the occasion. Since I attended a Mavs game (finally!), I decided to buy some more Mavs gear. Here’s a couple of pictures of my new shirts.

Me sporting my new Mavericks shirt and a
head wrap I got from Eco Shag on Etsy.com.
Me sporting my new Dirk Nowitzki jersey.
The back view of my new Dirk Nowitzki jersey.
That pretty much wraps up my first NBA game ever. I’m so glad I could share my experience with you, readers, although I know my words are inadequate to give you a real sense of how amazing the whole trip was. I keep thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to see the Mavericks (and Thunder) play in person. Who am I, that He would bless me like this? Thank You, Lord, for Your numerous blessings upon my life.
*All photos courtesy of Andrea Renee Cox, unless otherwise stated. None of the photos in this article may not be copied or used in any fashion without written permission from their owners.
Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite “first time” experience? What was it that made the experience so special?
Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.
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