The Dallas Mavericks NBA Championship Victory Parade: Tales From the D Magazine Interns

Even in the heat, the crowd didn't lose their cool.
Even in the heat, the crowd didn't lose its cool.

Since the rest of us either don’t like parades, got downtown too late to catch the happenings, or prefer to let infographics speak for us, we dispatched three of our dedicated D Magazine summer interns to share their amazing, true tales of this morning’s Dallas Mavericks victory parade. Each patrolled a different segment of the route.

Take the jump, and check out our full parade photo gallery here.

First up, Meredith Crawford:

As a die-hard Dallas Mavericks fan, I was willing to brave the heat and the crowds in order to witness the beginning of today’s parade at the intersection of Young and Griffin streets. However, even at 8 a.m., the surrounding fans and I were already suffering under the sun as people hid beneath umbrellas and searched desperately for water bottle vendors.

Somehow everyone managed to maintain the excitement as we awaited the team’s arrival. I couldn’t help but join in as the crowds gave a resounding “Wooo!” for every police car and work truck that drove past.  Even the porta-potty truck got a few “Go Mavs!” shouts. To us, everyone was part of the parade.

José Vela and his friends showed off their giant “Dirk Fever” sign as they waited for the parade to start. They also had a message for the Miami Heat players who mocked Dirk Nowitzki’s fever during the finals. “Maybe Dwyane and LeBron should catch it,” Vela said.

When the parade finally began, I started screaming and shouting as the team arrived on their decked-out floats. A kid next to me was repeatedly screaming the name of every single coach, player, and player’s wife with the hope that one might turn around and give him a nod.

Alas, Dirk didn't sign these shoes.
Alas, Dirk didn't sign these shoes.

Also, I couldn’t help but laugh at all of the confused looks as actor Jamie Foxx rolled by in a convertible. The parade passed us by within a few minutes, leaving some members of the crowd disappointed that they didn’t get to meet their favorite players. “If I see Dirk, I’m going to tell him to sign my shoes,” Vanessa Escobar said earlier that morning as she proudly pointed to her Mavericks Adidas.

Next on our recap, we have Harrison Smith, who was down by Dealey Plaza, along Houston Street:

I was hoping for Cristal and Cubans, but I’m a big dreamer.

And why shouldn’t I be? The Dallas Mavericks are NBA champions for the first time in their 30-year franchise history, winning it all after going 15-67 in their inaugural 1980-81 season. That’s 30 years of dreaming and a few nightmare seasons in the 90s–though I wasn’t alive to see the Mavericks win 15 that year, I came into the world and was met with an 11-win 1992 and a 13-win 1993.

Umbrellas were a luxury on this sunny day.
Umbrellas were a luxury on this sunny day.

Cristal champagne and Cuban cigars, then, seemed like no big deal, a nice reward for the fans and the city that stayed with the team through thick and thin, through Dan Crawford’s officiating and Dwyane Wade’s Finals flopping. Mark Cuban was footing the bill for the parade, after all, so if not Cristal and Cubans then at the very least André and Black and Mild’s.

While there was no complimentary victory champagne (at least, not in Dealey Plaza) no one was too upset: Mark Cuban’s / The City of Dallas’ team of parade planners kindly provided victory helicopters and victory police instead. From early in the morning on into the first 30 minutes of the 10 a.m. parade, pairs of police officers biked down Houston Street, and boy did they look like champions.

The municipal parade of bicycling officers and Victim Relief personnel ended at 10:30, when the first cars of Mavs administrators and front-office people passed the crowd gathered at the intersection of Houston & Main.

“Yeah, front office! You! You!” joked a group of co-workers who had taken a break and left their downtown office to watch the parade. Along with a pair of students who were in town for the National Forensic League debate tournament, these were some of the only people in the crowd not decked out in Mavericks blue and white. Packed along Houston Street, standing on top of coolers, sitting on tree branches on the plaza grass, the crowd did everything they could to get a view.

One mother and daughter weren’t so lucky in getting to see Dirk Nowitzki standing on top of a car near the end of the parade group. “We can just pretend that we saw him,” said the mother, and in fact, now that I think about it, they did see Dirk Nowitzki: he noticed a mother and daughter trying to peek over the top of the crowd, told the parade to stop, and ran over to cheer them up before helping Champ hand out bottles of champagne to the crowd.

I’m a big dreamer.

Quick: Everybody get a picture of Don Carter!
Quick: Everybody get a picture of Don Carter! You'll treasure it always.

Finally, we have Molly Boland, who spent the morning circling the American Airlines Center, where the parade came to an end.

To my surprise, I saw just one fan in costume while at the American Airlines Center on Thursday morning. This man wore a silver-detailed white mask, a black unitard, and a blue velvet cape stretched down to his ankles. I must have been in his way because, without even a kind tap on the shoulder, he blasted, “Excuse me, I’m late for work, and I have to get through here.” Chuckling to myself a bit, I watched him pass by, walk 5 feet, and meet the dead-end VIP barricades and security officers lining Victory Plaza. You’d think one might feel shut down at this point, but this fan decided to turn around and pour bottled water over other onlookers nearby. You tell me: was this considerate because of the blazing temperatures or pestering because all of us were already slick with sweat from scooching past one another? The crowd gave off mixed reactions.

Victory Plaza was one fantastic party, even under the sun's oppression.
Victory Plaza was one fantastic party, even under the sun's oppression.

Many were too obsessed with the rap music blaring from the plaza to notice. To these fans, it seemed there’s nothing like having your own dance party while waiting for your champions to arrive. The atmosphere could have passed for a concert, thanks to all the big screens and faint odors of marijuana frequently drifting by.

Some fans decided to make the day into a source of revenue. Hoping to cash in on the crowds, families pulled wagons and coolers around shouting, “Water $1!” I wondered how that worked out for them. Their coolers seemed to stay full the whole time, even up until the moment that Dirk Nowitzki began singing, “We Are the Champions” from the center balcony with his teammates, at the parade’s end.

I must confess I’m a new member of the Mavs fan club. After witnessing this city’s spirit for its team, my own for the 2011 World Champions is growing. Maybe it’s the fact that the last time I attended an event this large, Pope John Paul II was visiting my hometown. Now Dirk is the MVP. So does that make him the pope of the NBA? I hope that’s not a sacrilegious comparison. I’m just crunching numbers here people: hundreds of thousands attended! All in all, this morning’s parade experience was just enough to give this St. Louis native goosebumps, a couple times.

Dirk and the champions.
Pope Dirk and the champions.