Virtual Fans Help Mavericks in NBA Bubble

Dallas plays in front of fans who are visible, but not physically present

Tim Hardaway Jr. #11 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets on July 31, 2020 at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA is back and so are the fans -- sort of -- as they occupy virtual seats inside the Orlando bubble.

“The NBA has always been innovative and trying new things and trying new digital stuff, especially now, I think now it seems this is going to be the new reality,” Mavericks chief marketing officer Iris Diaz said.

The new reality is benefiting from Microsoft Teams technology.

All fans need is a link, a passcode and a comfortable chair.

“All of a sudden, we push a button and you are now in a seat," Diaz said. "Everyone just gets seated right away. Your background changes to a seat through Microsoft Teams and everyone is enjoying the game.”

And that helps the players enjoy the game.

“It is cool to see fans’ faces on the screen and it’s better than just being in the gym by ourselves,” Mavericks guard Delon Wright said.

“It’s not distracting at all," forward Maxi Kleber said. "Actually it helps to have a little feeling that fans are there. You know my little brother was watching too in the middle of the night from Germany so it’s actually fun to see those fans.”

Fans do have to follow some ground rules though.

“If you have to grab the door or grab a snack, give us a heads up so we at least have some kind of seat filler there,” Diaz said.

Fans also must adhere to a code of conduct or else they receive a dreaded message in their chat room.

“We want them to have a good time," said Diaz. "We want the section to have a good time so if there’s a couple of things that we have to boot them out for, we definitely want to just because we don’t want to be that team.”

It's much more fun being a team that is supported in a good, clean way.

“We’re trying to nail down the wave so I’m hoping one of the games when we start the wave and we get that going,” Diaz said.

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