The Mark Cuban game experience

A very common complaint among TrueHoop readers is that there is no time, at an NBA game, to relax. There's hyper music and promotions and videos and races at all times. Especially when basketball is not being played! If you're going to the arena to watch basketball and talk to your friends, all that other stuff is just a distraction.

But obviously, a lot of people love it. And TrueHoop readers surely skew towards being hardcore into basketball, which is a much smaller group than those who go to the games just for the entertainment. One of those who loves the other stuff owns the Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban explains, on his blog, his vision for the experience of attending an NBA game:

We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun and unique experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

You know the wedding I’m talking about. The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling, cheering, laughing. The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is trying to do the Dougie. The one where although you have no earthly idea what the Dougie is, you can’t say no to your 12 year old niece. The one where the whole place does the Macarena while laughing so hard they are crying. The one where everyone sings out loud to every song and you hug the cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years and hope you don’t see for another 10. It doesn’t matter if half the room doesn’t believe the couple will still be married at the end of the year. It matters if everyone in the place is having a great time. It matters if its the type of wedding that everyone in the room wished or wishes their wedding was or will be like this one. It matters that you leave the reception and your hands hurt from clapping, your mouth hurts from smiling so much and your throat is sore because you were laughing, singing and hollering so much. That’s a great wedding.

That’s how I want a Mavs game to be.

I want it to be very participatory. I want it to be very social. I want it to be very inclusive. I want it to be memorable. I want it to be so much fun people talk about it to their friends and can’t wait to go back. I want every parent to get tears in their eyes when they see their kids jumping up and down when the score is 2 to 0. When they are chanting Lets Go Mavs . When they are dancing and trying to get on the big screen. I want the guy on the date knowing that the longest he will have to talk is during halftime and that after the game, and until the next one, he can talk about the game itself and not have all the pressure of trying to think of something to say while his date can be relieved that she can enjoy the game without him talking. Or vice versa of course. I want everyone coming to a Mavs game to be able to find their own personal attachment to that night. I know I can’t control what happens on the court every game, but I can do my very best to make sure that no matter what the score, we have done all we can to make the fan experience like a great wedding.

IMHO, that means eliminating all the “look down” moments in the game. Once you sit in your seat, the only time I want you to look down is to pick up the soda or beer you set down under your seat.

I want you always looking up. Looking at the game and the entertainment in the arena. You can’t cheer if you aren’t watching. It’s my job to give you something other than the game to look up at.

I'm of two minds here. On the one hand, one of the proudest accomplishments of my life is that we had that wedding. We rented a dance floor, and so many people danced that it wasn't nearly big enough. When they removed the floor the next day, there was a little rectangle of green grass left behind. The rest of the lawn was brown, where dancers old and young had mashed all the grass into the dirt.

I get it! That is a great event and a noble goal. I don't think there's anything wrong with people getting out of their seats and getting crazy, at an NBA game or anywhere else.

But a wedding is actually a great example of the argument against the way a typical NBA game works. At a wedding, there is a huge variety in moods. There is time to think about marriage, commitment, friends and love. There is solemnity. There are poems and the kinds of songs that make people cry. There is lots of in-between time to talk to the people sitting next to you. There is a ceremony, there is a meal. There is some awkward small talk but the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow is getting to know people that you didn't know before. After hours of the quieter stuff, then there is dancing, grandma's gimlet, loud music and all that.

Only after everyone has really got the party vibe going do people with microphones start yelling at you to get out of your seat.

If they yelled at you all event long -- during the service, during the dinner, the whole darned night -- to get up and get into it, to not focus on the people you're with, well, they'd just be missing the mood in a way that could be awkward. People might start to wonder why the wedding felt like an NBA game.