Fans showed up early at AAC watch party

DALLAS -- Although the Dallas Mavericks are in Miami to play Game 6 of the NBA Finals, their fans have gathered at a sold-out American Airlines Center to watch the Mavericks attempt to clinch their first world championship in franchise history.

Fans waited nearly two hours before the doors opened at 5:30 p.m. in the blistering Texas heat anxious to witness Game 6 on the scoreboards inside the arena, and fans who wanted to be a part of the atmosphere but missed out on tickets could watch the game outdoors at AT&T Plaza.

“We wanted to be the first ones in and show that we can stick out here and beat the heat,” said Casey Watkins, a 16-year-old fan who was the first lined up along Southwest entrance at 3:40 p.m.

Watkins and eight other friends bought the $5 tickets at 10:02 a.m. Friday, two minutes after they went on sale. The tickets were first come, first served with no assigned seating. They would eventually sell out of tickets in 45 minutes.

“We’ve been to every one of the watch parties they’ve had here and when we found out they were on sale, we knew we had to get them right then,” Watkins said.

The majority of the spectators dressed in whatever Mavericks gear they could find in their closet, including 26-year-old Max Schwartzstein, who wore a rare Dallas Mavericks 2006 NBA champions T-shirt. Schwartzstein bought the shirt when a store accidentally put them out on the shelves during the Mavericks-Heat series in 2006.

“I wasn’t suppose to have this shirt but I still truly believe they should’ve won that championship, so I wear this shirt on almost any game,” said Schwartzstein, who has been a Mavericks fan since he held season tickets for two years at Reunion Arena in the 1990s.

Nobody knows how frantic the arena, or even Downtown Dallas for that matter, will be if the Mavericks happen to close out the series tonight. If footage from previous NBA championship cities is any indication of what the respond will be, chaos will be expected.

“My husband said that he was trying to decide this morning when we were leaving the house whether he should bring a baseball bat or a can of gas with him because that’s how you riot after a win,” 27-year-old Mollie Betancourt said. “But I’d just be super excited.”