Mavs Seats For Soldiers

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 7: XX XX against XX on December 7, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

DALLAS—The Dallas Mavericks’ comeback bid on Saturday against the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Center fell just short and the Mavs lost their second straight game.

But that night was about more than wins or losses, because it was the Mavs’ 11th annual Seats for Soldiers Night, where season ticket holders on the front row donate their seats to those in the military, many of whom were flown in from San Antonio by American Airlines, one of several Mavs corporate sponsors who help this great night go off without a hitch.

These service people, along with the game night staff who sit courtside, everyone from Mavs PA man Sean Heath to the shot clock operator and every member of the stat crew are all outfitted in matching white t-shirts, creating a great look not just in the arena but also on TV.

This year’s shirt was emblazoned with “United We Stand” on the front. As a member of the Mavs TV crew, specifically being blessed to be the stat guy for Mark Followill, Derek Harper and Jeff “Skin” Wade for about 25 home games this season, I too sported one of those white shirts for Saturday’s game and it was a memorable experience.

I had worked a Seats for Soldiers Night for visiting TV before, whose position is two rows behind where I sit for the Mavs, but being front and center was very cool. Not only did I get to personally witness how excited and grateful these military folks were to be at AAC, but getting to see a serviceman receive a mortgage-free home during the game, an announcement which understandably left him and his family speechless, was something I will never forget.

In fact, Harper, or “Harp” as we call him, said it best by stating you couldn’t help but tear up after seeing that display, one of those truly poignant moments in life that sticks with you.

Working this game had some added personal appeal for me since my late father served in the Army and fought in the Korean War. He never spoke much about his time in the service and I heard very little about Korea, but there was never any doubt how proud he was to have served his country.

Unfortunately, the Mavs weren’t able to dig out of their hole and lost what ended up being a close one to the Wizards. But Washington superstar John Wall might have capped the night perfectly when he obliged a woman sitting in front of me who asked for the jersey off his back.

Wall, who killed the Mavs on Saturday, quickly pulled off his jersey and handed it to his newest fan. After a quick interview with Wizards radio, Wall then signed the jersey and posed for pictures.

The exchange was documented by one of the Wizards PR operatives prior to him and Wall adjourning to the locker room. All in all, it was a very memorable night indeed, even if the Mavs didn’t prevail.

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A graduate of both Oklahoma State and Arkansas, Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer who currently covers the Stars for in addition to various assorted other gigs. Hunt is currently in his 10th season covering FC Dallas, which he does for The Dallas Morning News. He’s also covered the Mavs and Rangers for Fox Sports Southwest and worked as a freelance writer for media outlets and websites from across the country. Hunt also works on the television side of sports, as a stats guy for college football, high school football, Mavs and Rangers broadcasts. You can follow him on Twitter @dfwsportsguy93