The Texas Legends (25-23) concluded the home portion of their schedule on Saturday night. The 24th game of the 2016-2017 season at Dr Pepper Arena was unfortunately a loss to the San Antonio-affiliated Austin Spurs (23-24), but everything that makes a Texas Legends game special was on full display.
An incredible 8,185 fans attended the Legends’ 2017 home finale. The end zones at Legends’ home games are always either full of kids in “Generous George’s” playpen or full of carnival rides. Remember those scaled-down pirate ships you could ride at amusement parks? Well that was the center of attention Saturday night. Located behind the fan shop and flanked by the usual assortment of slides, the Arena was on fire from well before tip to long after the final buzzer.
“It’s a great facility and a great atmosphere here,” says Legends star point guard Pierre Jackson. “Obviously one of the best in the D-League. (The fans) brought it every game for us to cheer us on. Tonight was probably the best night, atmosphere wise. It’s just great support and we’re very appreciate of it.”
The Legends finish the season with a 14-11 home record. If they win their final two games on the road, they’ll end the year with a record above .500 on both their home court and the many road gyms across the country.
Following the game, Jackson, who had a 25 point, 10 assist double-double (9-16 FG, 3-6 3PT, 4-4 FT), stayed like the rest of the team’s players and coaches to sign autographs and meet the fanbase. A customary measure for the organization’s roster, Jackson went above and beyond, handing out a pair of sneakers to a young Legends fan.
“I think it’s pretty cool, in either win or loss they come down to show us love. A lot of places you don’t get that. With shoes, a lot of the younger guys kind of know what I’m about off the court. Shoes are a big deal for me and I don’t mind giving them away, especially when a kid wants them and he likes what I do on the court. If he thinks he can play like me with my shoes, I think that’s pretty dope.”
He also signed the kicks for the youngster, whose mother also snapped a picture of the once-in-a-lifetime memory. Wearing a Baylor Bears sweatshirt, the alma mater of Jackson, it was a no brainer to reward the die-hard fan of the team and the player. “A lot of kids asked but he stood out.”
For the first time this season, Developmental Player David Allen was active for Bob MacKinnon’s team. He signed his official D-League contract earlier on Saturday and was active for the evening’s matchup, literally getting the ball rolling on his pro basketball career. The first-year player also appreciates the raucous environment provided by the team’s faithful following. “It’s great, it’s awesome. The crowd is great. They come every night, it’s packed.”
Allen has been on the Texas bench during the home games this season and has high praise for the group of players he calls family. “They’re awesome. You see it in the bench going off, all the guys. After every shot they’re practically up doing something so the camaraderie is great. The guys are great to play with and be with for sure.”
On assignment from the affiliate Dallas Mavericks, former Texas Legend star and league-leading scorer Manny Harris notched a game-high 27 points on 50 percent shooting (11-of-22 FG, 2-4 3PT, 3-3 FT). He also collected nine rebounds.
Jameel Warney picked up his second straight double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds (five on each end of the glass) and also swiped three steals. Ben Gordon hit four threes and recorded four steals en route to 16 points.
Tonight also marked the culmination of the year-long Mercedes Benz of Plano free car drawing. During halftime, the team handed out a brand new Mercedes to a lucky fan, who’s name was drawn among others who entered to win and had their name called during a previous home game this year. MC’d flawlessly by Byron Bogar, who proudly notes “nobody else does this,” the car was awarded in the regular season finale.
As for the fan, she got a high five from President of Basketball Operations former NBA Superstar Spud Webb and nearly fell into Bogar’s arms with her winning key. Coincidentally, Manny Harris sank a three the moment she won her brand new car.
Two more games remain in the 2016-2017 season for the Legends, both on the road against division rivals. They will first travel South to Rio Grande to face the Valley Vipers (30-18), D-League affiliate of the Houston Rockets, on Thursday, March 30th at 7 PM CT. The campaign ends with a “Love Those Legends” date in Oklahoma City, a rematch against the Blue at 7 PM CT on April 1st.
Also, keep an eye out for ‘Like Mike 3: The Pierre Jackson Story.’