Ready or Not, It’s Opening Night

I’ve never seen this many #41’s in my life.

It’s opening night here in Dallas, Texas, and every fan walking through that American Airlines Center entrance is sporting a Mavs jersey, hat, or t-shirt. Crazy colorful wigs are a rarity, but definitely present.

Nine-year-old boys are ready to stay up past their bedtimes to enjoy the first game of the 2011-2012 season. But before that starts, they joyously watch for the ceremony in which their heroes will accept long-awaited championship rings, and the banner will drop down from the high ceiling declaring for the first time ever,

“DALLAS MAVERICKS 2011 WORLD CHAMPIONS.”

Tonight, the court doesn’t look like a court–it’s a stage. There are lights, cameras, dancers in sparkly outfits, men in suits, athletes in pregame shoot-around attire–way more than the usual 10 players, 3 referees, and 1 basketball.

The entire arena is alive with it’s own heartbeat. There’s not one trace of anxiety, fear, or distress; rather, there’s a collective feeling of undeniable–almost palpable–relief.

Looks like things are getting started. National anthem, check. Players and coaches introduced, check. Ring ceremony, check.

The arena lights up. Players put in their mouthpieces, adjust their shorts, and position themselves at the center circle. The ref tosses the ball into the air, but it isn’t tipped to Jason Kidd. It isn’t tipped to M.V.P. Derrick Rose on the other end of the floor either.

Huh. Looks like Reality snatched the basketball before it could come down.

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