By Brendan Smith | 105.3 The Fan
28 Apr 2001:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 and Juwan Howard #5 of the Dallas Mavericks celebrate in game three of round one in the NBA playoffs against the Utah Jazz at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.  The Mavericks won 94-91. DIGITAL IMAGE.  Mandatory Credit:  Ronald Martinez/Allsport

2001: Dirk Nowitzki and Juwan Howard celebrate in game three of round one in the NBA playoffs against the Utah Jazz at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 94-91. (Credit: Ronald Martinez/Allsport)

DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) — I was born in 1987 and didn’t hit my sports consciousness until the mid 90’s, which seems like a perfect timetable to fall in love with America’s team. While I love the Cowboys, since I grew up a pastor’s kid, Sunday’s were dominated by church services instead of football. When the Cowboys would play later in the afternoon or on Monday night, I would be glued to the TV, but I didn’t get to experience a game live until later in life.

Because of those restrictions, the biggest treat for my family and me was a trip to Reunion Arena to watch a terrible Mavs team. I remember my dad picking me up from school and surprising me by driving to a local mall to pick up tickets for countless weekend games. I saw so much bad basketball, but I felt like I owned that arena. There were games where we would be the only fans in our section and we could spread out and do as we pleased.

This created a bond with a team that, at the time, was the laughing-stock of professional sports. But, soon the Mavs would draft a goofy German kid, and I eventually traded in my Jason Kidd jersey for a Dirk Nowitzki replica. As I grew up, so did the Mavs.

I vividly remember attending to a game in the 1999/2000 season to watch Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and the Toronto Raptors. I was 12 years old. As Vince threw down dunk after dunk, I remember thinking to myself this team could turn things around very soon. As it turns out, that Mavs team went on a run at the end of the season, finished with 40 wins and then advanced to the playoffs the next season.

I was lucky enough to attend some iconic games in Mavs history. I witnessed Mark Cuban sprinting on to the floor during the “Chalupa Incident” and then witnessed the final regular season game at Reunion Arena. I celebrated the Mavs beating Sacramento in a 7 game series and experienced heartbreak while watching Dirk chew out Jason Terry for not closing out on Steve Nash in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. I lost my mind as Dirk dropped 50 on that same Phoenix team the next year in the Western Conference Finals and then sat in disbelief as Miami celebrated an NBA title on “my floor.” The next 4 years I passionately watched a team that couldn’t get it done in the postseason and I thought about those failures almost every single day.

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  Jason Kidd #2 of the Dallas Mavericks holds up the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy as he celebrates with his teammates, head coach Rick Carlisle and team owner Mark Cuban after they won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

The Dallas Mavericks holds up the Larry O’Brien Championship trophy in Miami in 2011. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Like so many other Mavs fans, it was because of this climb that 2011 meant so much. One crushing loss after another led to the most satisfying sports moment of my life (even though I had terrible luck during the 2011 playoff run…that’s a story for another day). So, no matter how many players come and go, no matter how many players choose to sign elsewhere as free agents, this time of year always brings hope.

We are right in the middle of a season where the NFC East is wide open and there’s no denying the truth, this town belongs to the Cowboys. From TV ratings to radio shows to water cooler chatter, DFW is owned by the silver and blue. That isn’t going to change. But, for one family in the metroplex, tonight marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year…the Dallas Mavericks are back in business.

You can hear Brendan on the Ben & Skin Show, weekdays 2-6 p.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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