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Monday, July 20, 2015

Mavs Move Out

Fans react to team’s decision to leave

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Another sports team is hitting the road out of Shreveport-Bossier City in search of greener pastures, leaving behind a handful of sad and disappointed fans.

The Shreveport-Bossier Mavericks played two seasons in the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum, where the team racked up 66 straight wins and two national championships. But, despite their fire on the court, the Mavericks never sparked with the local community.

“If we would have given them more support, they probably wouldn’t have moved,” said Cory Randolph, who took his three sons to the games. “Nobody showed any desire to go. No support.”

Asked about his reaction to the move, “Sad. Sad. Sad. But I can’t blame them for leaving.”

News of the relocation came shortly after news broke of the Mavericks’ decision to leave the American Basketball Association for the Premier Basketball League, a league change aimed at providing the Mavericks with more competition.

“We loved to watch them play,” said Kennon Comegys, who attended Mavericks games with her sister, Johnette Huguley.

“Of course, it was more like practice.”

Much like Randolph, Comegys blamed low attendance and ticket sales for the move. “We’re sorry to see them go. We’re sorry the community didn’t get to enjoy them like we did,” Comegys said.

She was very complimentary of the team and its staff, having talked with Debra Green, Mavericks general manager and director of marketing, from time-to-time about the fleeting interest.

“They were a talented team. Very disciplined. Dedicated,” Comegys said.

“They were a very good product.”

And the Mavericks are good. Historically good. They have a 92-straight game winning streak and four championship titles while playing in the ABA.

“We’re the Duke of pro-basketball at this level,” said Steve Tucker, Mavericks head coach and president.

Tucker has been with the organization since 2010, when the team was called the Southeast Texas Mavericks. In 2013, the Mavericks and Tucker moved to Shreveport-Bossier.

His feelings about the move are similar to the fans. “I’m saddened that we’re leaving Shreveport-Bossier. I have a lot of good friends here,” he said.

But he agreed with team owner Jerry Nelson’s decision to pack it up.

“At the end of the day, it’s a business decision for the benefit of the organization’s longevity,” Tucker said.

As for the reason behind relocation, Tucker said, “it came down to fan support and the overall support that we’ve gotten here in two years. [Nelson] has got to get us in a city where the business is finally viable.”

That new city is not yet decided.

While playing at the Hirsch, the Mavericks treated their smattering of fans to what was essentially Basketball 101, blowing out rival teams by as much as 50 points and sometimes more.

The PBL, however, is expected to increase that level of play, which may improve the Mavericks’ efforts to join the National Basketball Association Development League, the minor league system for the NBA.

Currently, the league is comprised of 12 teams along the East Coast and in the nation’s Midwest. But Tucker has been busy creating a southern division, which now has five teams.

“People want to see competition, something good,” said Mavericks guard Tyrone Hamilton. “They want you to win,” he continued, “(but) they want to stay on the edge of their seats.”

Asked about a possible relocation, Hamilton, a Shreveport native who played at Centenary College and later overseas, replied, “I love being at home.”

Locally, the Hirsch is transitioning to life without the Mavericks on its roster.

“We’re losing a good partner and a good tenant,” said Chris Giordano, president and general manager of the State Fair of Louisiana, which oversees the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s disheartening that we haven’t been able to keep a sports team. As of late, though, since the mid-90s, it seems like the support just started slacking off.”

–RT Morgan

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