As some of you know, my wife and I have had half-season tickets for Mavs games for about five years or so. We had seats for last night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, but Nikki couldn’t go. So I ended up taking our staff photographer Elizabeth Lavin, better known to FrontBurnervians as “Spider Monkey.” Before leaving the office, I predicted to Eric and Tim that it would be like taking a 5-year-old who drinks. That turned out to be spot on. But thanks to our ticket rep, the great Jim Wikman, the night took a huge, unexpected turn. Those highlights are coming up next, after this short click-thru.
— Thanks to the icy roads last night, when the game tipped off, the AAC was maybe a quarter full. Which meant it was extremely quiet. Which meant there was no distracting crowd noise to stand in the way of a barrage of questions from Elizabeth. As I was without pen and pad, most of those are lost to time. But I do recall her theory that the slow start by both teams (until the Nuggets eventually got a little breathing room) was due to the weather. And that she didn’t understand why that was affecting the Nuggets since “they’re from Denver. It’s cold there. They should be used to it.” Followed by a word we’re not allowed to print here.
— Oh, just remembered a question: “Do they ever let players sing the National Anthem?”
— In each seat, there is a Mavs sign — it says something like “Go Mavs!” — that, when folded up accordion-style, doubles as a noisemaker. Lavin’s discovery of this coincided with a Carmelo Anthony trip to the free throw line. She was surprised by the sound it made (“I don’t think I want to do this anymore”) but kept testing it out. Her rhythmic experiment caught on: a few people joined in, then a few more, and then suddenly the entire meager crowd was doing it. I think Melo may have ended up missing one of the foul shots.
— Another giveaway immediately grabbed her attention: the Thunder Stix. Once she inflated the first one, she tried to tie it off like a balloon, a necessity the Thunder Stix set up has eliminated. This truly stunned Elizabeth. We talked (or rather, she did) about this “amazing technology” for a full five minutes.
— Midway through the first quarter there were eight people in our section, including us, and no one else on our row. That’s when the aforementioned Jim Wikman arrived and asked if we might like to move down a little bit. “A little bit” turned out to be the second row. (Our original seats: $10 each. Our new ones: $447 apiece.)
— On our way down to the promised land, I noticed country legend Charley Pride sitting about 10 rows up from us. That’s how good the seats were.
— It should probably go without saying, but I will anyway: Elizabeth talked to every single Mavs/arena employee she encountered. The ticket taker, the security checkpoint guy, the girl handing out programs, the usher in our original section, the three ushers we passed to get to the new section, some floor security, Mavs Man, Champ (more on that momentarily), the concessions lady, and at least a handful of other folks.
— Immediately after settling into our new seats, Lavin put her coat over her seat back — and her phone slid under the risers. If you think this didn’t lock her into a 20-minute personal focus group on what sort of Rube Goldbergian device could be constructed to retrieve her phone, you clearly haven’t met her.
— During halftime, we went outside so I could smoke. As we neared the exit, I pointed out to Lavin that she would have to ditch her beer or chug the last half of it, as you can’t take cups outside. “Bet I can!” she said and awkwardly held it under her coat. It couldn’t have been more obvious, but she somehow made it out.
— Outside, since it was not uncold, there were only two other people, a pair of red-clad African-American gentlemen. Before I even had my cigarette lit, Elizabeth had a) inquired about one of the fellow’s platinum chain, b) asked after the other guy’s grill and neck tattoo, and c) given them her phone number, apparently to help aid in the recovery of her phone. She also started openly drinking her contraband beer, which promptly brought a security guard over. The guard told her in no uncertain terms that she needed to toss the beer away — now. Lavin, being Lavin, tried to drink the rest of it. This did not work.
— In the fourth quarter, a few people left and Champ came and sat next to us. Elizabeth asked if he remembered us. From this, she meant, but did not say. Champ’s mascot smile stayed fixed but I imagine the person inside had a whiskey-tango-foxtrot look. As did I.
— Right around the same time, a couple of guys in the front row were jawing at Nuggets reserve guard J.R. Smith. He caught a pass, drained a three, then turned to glare at them while slapping his rump. They shut up.
— You know who doesn’t look happy on the bench? Josh Howard.
— Late game analysis from Elizabeth: “Look how my sneakers sparkle.”
— After the game, Lavin began pulling apart the risers that constitute the first few rows. This toppled over a couple of seats and brought her to the attention of Dale, a very nice, very patient usher. She explained the situation and then he started pulling apart the risers. The phone was recovered and Elizabeth got to second base with Dale, hugging him so ferociously his name tag broke. (Not a euphemism.) This was witnessed by someone in the AAC administration, and apparently, will end up in the next newsletter.
— Oh, and the Mavs lost.