Photos: Dallas Mavericks and Dorothy J. Gentry
When he was a child growing up in Wurzburg, Germany, Maxi Kleber spent the majority of his time on outdoor basketball courts learning the game and staying out of trouble.
“I remember when I was six years old. I came together with my friends, and we played outdoors basketball. It’s also where I made new friends,” said Kleber, the Mavs’ power forward on how outdoor courts shaped his life. “My mom always told us, ‘I’d rather have you guys playing basketball and staying out of trouble.
“This is where it started for me and my older brother who is two years older. We took the basketball and went to the court,” Kleber continued. “I wasn’t really strong enough to shoot, but I was just there dribbling.”
Kleber, the Mavericks and the Mavs Foundation recently unveiled a brand-new basketball court at Frazier Revitalization in South Dallas. It was the 30th basketball court in the North Texas region renovated and donated by the Mavs and their foundation.
Frazier Revitalization, a nonprofit working in the Frazier community for over 15 years, offers direct out-of-school enrichment to at-risk minority youth in the South Dallas area, most of whom live in the subsidized housing development complex Frazier Townhomes.
Presented by Sprite, the renovations include an outdoor basketball court, fencing, lighting, and equipment replacement to ensure the youth have a place to play while encouraging healthy living for residents in the community.
Mavs In-Arena Host Chris Arnold served as MC. Youth also heard words of encouragement from Kleber, who also took part in a mini basketball clinic along with Mavs Academy staff. Entertainment was provided by Mavs Mascot Champ and the Mavs ManiAACs.
Frazier Revitalization board member Antong Lucky was also on hand to help dedicate the new court.
“I am a resident of this community, I grew up in this community, so I would just like to give a major shoutout to the whole team,” said Lucky. “I remember back in the day we used to have that rim of the bicycle. So (it’s special) to actually have a real goal with lights and a nice court.”
Kleber encouraged the youth to take pride in their new court and use it to have fun and make memories.
“It’s a nice thing to have a court here. I think it’s amazing,” he said. “I hope you guys treat it with respect because it’s your playground now and you want to make sure that everyone gets the same chance to make new friends and meet new people here because those friendships stay forever.
“I still have friends I met on the basketball court. It’s an amazing thing to have this outdoor court. I hope you guys have fun.”