This past season, Mavs players Luka Dončić, Dorian Finney-Smith, Devin Harris and others spent time at Jr. NBA clinics and encouraged young girls and boys to play.

From the court to the community: How the Dallas Mavs are giving back to D-FW youth through basketball

by Sabrina Corsiga, Special Contributor | June 27, 2019

Home is where the heart is, and what better way to cultivate success than to start in the place you call home? This sentiment rings true for the Dallas Mavericks, who strive to be champions both on the court and within their D-FW community. The Mavs offer several different opportunities for young fans to access mentorship from elite professional athletes while learning important life skills through the sport of basketball.

For instance, the Mavs proudly support Her Time to Play, an inspiring grassroots initiative that encourages young girls to start and continue playing basketball in a positive, healthy environment. This past season, Mavs players Luka Dončić, Dorian Finney-Smith, Devin Harris and others spent time at Jr. NBA clinics and encouraged young girls to play. The program also aims to increase opportunities for women in coaching and athletic leadership — goals that hit close to home for the Mavericks. They’re one of just two teams in the NBA with a female CEO, Cynt Marshall, and a female assistant coach, Jenny Boucek.

The Mavs offer several different opportunities for young fans to practice drills with elite professional athletes.

Boucek says that one of the most valuable lessons kids and teens can take away from participating in basketball is the concept of a healthy mistake response.

“We have a lot of perfectionism going on in our day and age, and a focus on results, so trying to help implement growth mindsets in kids is a valuable thing for their entire life,” she said.

Coach Boucek believes participating in team sports can help young people learn a number of other life lessons ranging from relationships to discipline to communication. 

“Pretty much everything in life you can learn through sport experience.”

The Mavs are also involved in the Jr. NBA global youth program, which aims to instill a passion for basketball in youth ages 6-14. Jr. NBA Clinics for underprivileged youth are hosted throughout the D-FW Metroplex five times per year free of charge in conjunction with the Mavericks’ nonprofit partners. 

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle participated in last summer’s Jr. NBA Global Championship, which involved Dallas-based boys and girls basketball teams. (The boys’ team even advanced to the semifinals of the Jr. NBA Global Championship.) Carlisle referred to the weeklong event as “a celebratory melting pot” with the goal of teaching kids to learn and love the sport of basketball.

“Like the NBA, I believe it’s really important to impact kids at a young age about the importance of the game, [and] how to play the game the right way,” Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News.

The Mavericks were also one of 13 teams to host the Spring Shootout Jr. NBA Global Championship qualifiers, comprised of boys’ and girls’ youth teams from 4th to 8th grade. Winners earned a ticket to the Jr. NBA Regionals around the country. In addition, the Mavs recently held their Summer Showcase, a Dallas-located youth tournament where 40 teams competed in the seasonal games. The winners of each division walked away with a trophy and Mavs player bobbleheads. 

Along with Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley and power forward Kristaps Porzingis, Carlisle also served on the NBA delegation to the latest Basketball Without Borders event. The four-day camp, held in Porzingis’ home country of Latvia, brought together the top male and female players 17 and under from throughout Europe to be mentored by professional players and coaches.

Carlisle saw the camp as a great opportunity not only for the young players to receive insights on the sport, but to learn about leadership, respect and teamwork.

“Basketball Without Borders is about life lessons as well and we take great pride in that,” Carlisle said.

The Mavericks were also the first NBA team to host the 2019 Mavs Youth Combine, a basketball development program aimed at some of the top pre-collegiate student-athletes across the Metroplex. The program replicated the NBA Draft Combine in a simulated environment to test the players’ on-court skills.

Brad Freeman, the Mavericks’ Director of Youth Basketball (Elite) expressed his enthusiasm for bringing NBA-level knowledge to the group, which was comprised of forty athletes and a number of outstanding players 6th through 8th grade.

“We are excited that we can be a part of elite basketball because for the first time the NBA is allowing teams to work with elite-level youth players,” Freeman said.

This new elite programming adds to the long history of the Mavs Basketball Academy, which brings the excitement of the NBA to the community and provides young players with the distinctive coaching styles necessary for physical improvement, mental growth and successful leadership. Each season, thousands of fans of all ages learn from the best and play, develop and compete at summer and year-round camps such as Hoop Camps, Dance Camps and Development Camps.

Community involvement is especially crucial for people like Dallas Mavericks Youth Basketball Director Ben Hunt, who leaps at the chance to influence the next generation. Hunt recently took the time to speak to boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Waxahachie High School as part of the school district’s Community Service Day.

“If you have a plan and goal in your mind, and you surround yourself by those that can help you do that, the options are endless,” Hunt told the students.

According to Boucek, every coach who works with youth has the responsibility to be intentional about the principles they teach.

“We have a great responsibility, and actions speak a lot louder than words, so we have to be consistent in what we say we’re about and what we want our team to be about,” Boucek said.

The Dallas Mavericks continue to set the NBA standard for youth basketball, and their positive community influence can be found all around the D-FW Metroplex. Learn more about all of the Mavericks’ youth basketball programs and initiatives at mavs.com/basketballacademy.

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