The Tip-Off: NBA Game With A 6 Year Old

I have a confession to make: the last ticket to a sports event I purchased was in 2000. And it was $16 with a discount Dr. Pepper can to watch a pretty terrible Dallas Mavericks team led by a young schnitzel named Dirk.

All the other times? Free tickets. I have been the recipient of a lot of goodwill from others and I have appreciated every opportunity and gesture, but it has jaded me to the experience in a lot of ways. When I do score some tickets I usually bring a guy friend or my wife, and it’s pleasant enough. But the dawn of a new day is here; having a 6 year old means I have a new wingman.

Out of the blue my buddy Ryan at Greengrass Studios said he had some tickets to the Mavs v. Warriors game. My mind immediately went to “buddy,” and then it shifted to “wife,” but then this new option popped in my head – “son.” Yes, I would take Benjamin to see his first basketball game.

Quick heads-up, other than the Nerfoop in his room, Benjamin knows absolutely nothing about basketball… like how much baskets are worth, having to dribble, or even who the “Mavs” were. But he was SO EXCITED!!

And this was refreshing. Like I said, much to my own chagrin, I had become the cliché Dallas fan that goes to a game, enjoys the game, but isn’t on top of the freakin’ world because they are in the stadium about to see their favorite team play. Going with young Benjamin I was able to enjoy the game with my little boy, but also have his blind enthusiasm knock some of the rust off this hibernating fan.

Here are some of my miscellaneous observations from my night at the game:
- When you explain a sport to someone for the first time, you sound like a crazy person. Especially when they ask really simple questions like, “Why do they have to dribble? And why is it called dribbling? Shouldn’t it be called ‘bouncing’?” Touché.

- Driving down to the arena, he eagerly looked out the window to count how many American flags he saw. Final tally, 27 (EAGLE SCREECH!).

- The pregame head scratcher was a team of about 100 high schoolers set up outside the arena wearing singlets and working out on rowing machines. They were literally rowing outside the basketball game for reasons I couldn’t figure out.

- Speaking of pregame, I genuinely feel bad for the entertainment acts they pull into the arena to kill time before tip-off. Even when they are great, like once in a lifetime level of performance, it is met with the sound of 50 ghosts clapping.

- What is typically “meh” to me was “AWE-SOME!” to Benjamin. Like the blimp flying around dropping coupons, the t-shirt slingshots, and even more exciting was the game clock that counted down to a buzzer.

- Parenting tip: don’t bring what looked to be a 6 week old baby to the game. They aren’t enjoying the game. You’re not enjoying the game. Plus, you’re subjecting the poor baby to getting beer and spittle on his onesie. And that’s just from you.

- Next Christmas the only gift I’m going to give Benjamin is a foldable cardboard hand clapper. He loved it. He also loved that he could be AS LOUD AS HE WANTED WHEN THE CROWD WAS CHEERING!!!!

- The “cotton candy” guy was Benjamin’s white whale. He tracked his movement up and down 8 aisles waiting for him to show up on ours. Thankfully for me, he was a no-show. (cotton candy is the worst).

- I scanned the age of all the players in the game that night. Ahem, the only person listed that was older than me were the coaches. (sigh)

- There were a shocking amount of Golden State Warriors fans in the Dallas audience. What this told me is how there has been an influx of bay area professionals that have moved to the DFW area. That, or people have really bad taste in picking teams to follow.

- What is it about the Jumbotron that turns people into total idiots? If you are under the age of 17, you get a pass. It’s cool to see yourself on the screen. If you are over 18, at least have an on-camera strategy or schtick instead of just flailing your arms around trying to figure out where the camera is.

- I work in sports marketing, but even I was grossed out at how absolutely everything is sponsored by someone. Every timeout, every replay, every replay of a timeout. I was waiting for an ankle injury to happen to see if it was going to be sponsored by Dr. Scholl’s.

- Taking Benjamin to go potty reminded me how I need to work on his “stand-up pee-pee” technique. He is still most comfortable doing the full “pantsing” of himself, which just makes for an awkward moment in a corral full of dudes in the men’s room during halftime.

- I explained free-throws as “one-point shots.” So every time a Maverick made a free-throw Benjamin would yell, “NICE ONE POINTER!!!” It was so passionate and filled with joy that I didn’t want to correct him. In fact, I never want to correct him.

In conclusion, the game was the most fun I’ve had in years. And I owe it all to just enjoying it with the fresh eyes of a 6 year old boy. I was louder, I was cheering like Mark Cuban wants me to cheer, and I was doing all kinds of dumb stuff that breaks from the typical “Dallas Fan Decorum.” The game was started at 7:30pm, so I was worried Benjamin wouldn’t make it through the whole game, but I was the one hard blinking and yawning driving home at 10:30pm.

Unfortunately, the Mavs lost in overtime 122 – 120, but Benjamin’s disappointment was short lived because he had plenty of American flags to count on our drive home.

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