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Goal-Getters -- SB Mavericks Rally Community Support for Second National Championship Title

FROM THE FORUM MAGAZINE
 Monday, March 16, 2015

By Lydia Earhart

It’s not every day 8-year-old Caleb Randolph meets a pro-basketball player, but in Shreveport-Bossier City, his local team, the Mavericks, are making his dreams come true at each game.

His dad, Cory Randolph, has always supported local sports teams by attending games.

“I grew up with my dad taking me to [the Shreveport] Captains games, and it was everything to me as a kid,” Cory said. “We love the Mavericks. My boys look up to these players. After the games, players always stay out and meet the fans and give us that personal attention that I haven’t seen with any other basketball team. It’s so personable because they let the kids go and meet the players. They let the kids take pictures, sign basketballs and come on the court.”

Cory said all three of his sons attend Mavericks games with him when his schedule permits. He is a basketball and football coach at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport and all three sons also play basketball.

“What I love most about the games is the family-oriented environment,” Cory said. “For the price and family packages [which are tickets including food] and the fact that kids get in every game free, it’s an inexpensive way to take the kids out. Where else are you going to take the kids and let them enjoy the day?” Cory said his whole family enjoys Mavericks games.

“What I like about it is that some kids can sit and watch the game and others can run around and play. They have a designated area where the kids can go and play basketball during the games with a small goal set up.”

Though, Cory said, the atmosphere at the games are great, he still thinks the games need more local support.

“My family, we are all sports, and even if you are not, it beats paying for a $60 or $70 movie,” he said. “I wish that they would get more support, and I hope that they stick around. I know that the owner, staff and people behind [the team] are doing a great job because they run specials and everything is inexpensive, and all the souvenirs are inexpensive.

“We as a community need to come together and recognize, hey these guys might be here for a couple of years so let’s show them some support.”

Stellar Season

The Mavericks have made Shreveport- Bossier City a home for the last two seasons. With the move, the Mavericks remain undefeated with a record this regular season of 28-0.

Their last regular game season ended March 7 with a win over the Dallas Texas All Stars (145-102). This is the team’s 88th consecutive win in the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.

“To go undefeated for back-to-back regular seasons is quite a feat,” Mavericks Coach Steve Tucker said. “The credit should go to our players, who have followed the process of preparation. I am very proud to be their coach. They are a special team to work with. I am so blessed. Hopefully the best is yet to come.”

For the second time, the team will go through the entire American Basketball Association regular season as the No. 1 ranked team in the ABA National Power Rankings. The Mavericks were the first team to accomplish this feat back in the 2010- 11 season and are on their way to winning their second ABA/Pro Basketball National Championship.

The Mavericks will host the ABA Finals on April 7-13 at the Hirsch. The No. 1-ranked SB Mavericks will be the No. 1 seed of the ABA Championship Finals. The Mavericks will play the second game April 7 verses the No. 4 seed of the Championship Finals. The three other teams in the playoffs will be announced March 22.

Improving Tourism

When Tucker first visited Shreveport, Chris Giordano, president and general manager of the State Fair of Louisiana, took him to the Hirsch for a tour. It was at that moment Tucker began to feel that the building has a certain mystique.

“When I walked in, the building was dying,” Tucker said. “I felt the building speaking to me, and I felt it in my heart that the building was speaking to me. As I walked around the halls, she was dying, and I wanted to save that building and bring pro-basketball to Shreveport-Bossier. And we did that.

“We brought pro-basketball to Shreveport, and we gave the Hirsch life. That night [last year] when we cut those nets down, we won that championship in Shreveport, and we were the first pro team to ever win a championship in Shreveport,” he said.

Tucker said the Hirsch has been alive ever since.

“I feel like she smiles upon us when we take the court,” he said.

Kelly Wells, vice president of sports and tourism for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourism Bureau, said the Mavericks have put a lot of funds into the Hirsch for improvements.

“They have put more than $250,000 into the Hirsch and more into the basketball gym, which is allowing us to use the Hirsch for the [Louisiana High School Coaches Association] men’s and women’s basketball game in a couple of weeks,” Wells said.

“Because of the improvements to the Hirsch, we have been able to bring in concerts like Mercy Me and Bad Company, host rodeos, horse shows and even WWE a few weeks ago that had over 4,500 in attendance. They have breathed new life back into a building that was really headed to disrepair. We are bidding on a state hog rally for next spring at the State Fair Grounds that without the improvements would not have even been a consideration for Harley Davidson.”

Wells said having the Mavericks has also been positive for the community.

“This organization has been first-class since our first meeting almost two years ago when we met with Coach Steve Tucker, Debra Green, general manager, and owner Jerry Nelson,” Wells said. “Everything they promised that the organization would accomplish they have fulfilled and more. From bringing in a first-class ownership group, national championship team and providing an economic impact and quality of life for our community for our citizens, our tourism entities and other area businesses through their expenditures and jobs they have created here.

“What they have accomplished through the ABA being on track to win their second national championship is what every sports organization wants to accomplish,” Wells said. “And the fact that the owner has provided and not asked for much has been exemplary.”

Community Need

Though Wells said the Mavericks don’t ask for much, what is lacking is local attendance at the games.

Tucker said the community support is growing, but he wants to see more local fans.

“When we first came to Shreveport- Bossier, I think that people sort of took a step back and took a long look at us, and I think that the support has grown and is growing, and I think a lot of that has to do with our involvement in the community.”

Tucker said the team supports plenty of local activities.

“We have been out there in the public and working with them hand in hand. Because of that, the support is growing even at this moment.”

Tucker said the Mavericks want to be a vital part of the community.

“The region has grown, and the city has grown, and we want to be a part of that. We are working hard with the community to not only help but where people see us wanting to be a part of the community,” Tucker said. “Sometimes you have to take baby steps, and sometimes you have to keep working toward [gaining support]. We have a staff and a group of players that are committed to not only our organization but being a part of our community.”

Green said players are available for local appearances, and since this was made public, the team has a waiting list for appearances. Players have already attended events at schools in Caddo and Bossier parishes and even at the police department during summer camp activities.

She said the team also gives back to the community by offering free admission to the games to Caddo and Bossier parish students grades K-12.

“One of the things that the [Caddo Parish School Board] recognized the most is that we are having a great influence on kids here,” Green said. “Our players are college graduates; they are not in trouble. They are good people, and we are having a big influence, and people are starting to want to have us around in their groups and community functions.”

Green said the team started a Junior Mavericks Club and hundreds of children are enrolling.

“Look at what you’ve got here, we are an entity that is catering to kids who are really needing this type of thing. I mean we really like doing this,” she said. “We are patient. We feel like if we continue to do it right, we just feel like the support is going to continue to come.”

A Second Title

Going into the playoffs, the Mavericks have created an event called the Fan Zone for the community. This event will be from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 7-9 during the ABA playoffs and will be a way for fans to interact with Mavericks players. At the event, there will also be a three-point contest for teens ages 13-19.

For the ABA playoffs, Tucker said he is looking forward to see the match-ups and other teams.

“We know that we are going to be challenged tremendously in these finals,” Tucker said. “I think the teams are going to come to Shreveport-Bossier with two things in mind. The first thing is to beat us, and the second thing is to win the championship and I’m not sure beating us is more important than winning the championship to those other three teams.”

The Mavericks are four games away from winning a second national championship in Shreveport.

“It’s going to be a really exciting, and it’s going to be five days of pure hell,” Tucker said. “It’s the first team to get four wins and we hope to be that last team standing on that [final] day.”

Tucker said the team has made improvements since last year.

“We feel good, and we are much healthier – and I’m gonna knock on wood there. We are much healthier than we were last year around this time,” he said. “So we feel good about that. I think we have improved ourselves in a lot of ways.”

Tucker said he also appreciates the diehard fans that stick with them and show support.

“I think we have good fans, and they are committed to the Mavericks,” he said. “They are the best fans that we have ever had. They are involved, engaged, and they care. You see them staying after the game wanting to be around our players as they come down on the court.”

Tucker said in all Shreveport has been good to the team.

“I’d say it’s a lucky thing being in Shreveport, and I think the city has brought us a lot of luck, and we brought the city a lot of pride,” he said. “We are proud to represent Shreveport- Bossier, and we are proud to call it home.”


Stay in touch with the Mavericks and the ABA on Facebook, Twitter, and the world wide web.

Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks

Web: www.sbmavs.com
Facebook: Shreveport Bossier Mavericks

American Basketball Association

Web: www.abalive.com
Facebook: ABA Pro Basketball
Twitter: @ABAProBall

Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks Basketball

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