A belated Happy Howl-i-days to you! What a year, what a year! 2012 was chock-full of highlights! I relished cheering on and high-fiving the Liberty players when they made their gutsy run to the 2012 playoffs. I do think that my Sweet 16 birthday party had something to do with another playoff appearance, as on that day we were able to take down the Seattle Storm led by Doppler ahem, I mean Sue Bird. But maybe the passionate Liberty fans had something to do with it, too
After the Liberty season ended, I was invited to embark on a trip to China with the NBA and WNBA. The NBA created the "Guangdong Mobile Tour" which moved throughout China in order to expose multiple communities to both leagues. The tour team included Lucky the Boston Celtics mascot, the Detroit Pistons dancers, former players, special guests as emcees, and of course yours truly.
I left JFK airport on a Thursday, had a layover in Beijing, and then finally touched down in Guangzhou in the wee hours of an early Saturday morning. Even after nearly a day's worth of traveling, I was still buzzing with energy to take in the sights abroad and to pump up the Guangzhou citizens. Would they have what it takes to be a Liberty fan? We would soon see
From the airport we drove though rural areas of China first and I peeped out the window of the bus at the country life. Suddenly the city emerged. It was just like New York: skyscrapers, big shopping malls, lots of people, and many prime fire hydrants. However, the city also had its own unique gems. I enjoyed exploring the markets that popped up in the streets...and the smells, oh the glorious smells
My two days in China were fast paced and busy. We had two shows each day, each centered around a rousing three-on-three tournament and a skills challenge. The best local basketball players came out and played for their towns. I worked hand-in-hand with Lucky, the Celtics Mascot, to put on skits when the stage was ours. First we had a dance contest. Now Liberty fans, you KNOW Maddie is a top-notch dancer. Lucky never had a chance! I "hit my Dougie", "did the Wobble" and showed off all my moves! The crowd, filled with locals of all ages, LOVED it. At the end of the show I played a trick on Lucky. I elaborately blind-folded him, then led him to believe that I was going to do an amazing jump over him... so Lucky laid on the ground, blind folded, waiting for my jump. But I never jumped- instead I left him there laying on the ground and ran off the court. The crowd had a good laugh and even Lucky had to laugh at how silly we were. He's been trying to get me back ever since!
Overall the trip was amazing. We were well received in China and I believe new relationships and fans were created out there. I definitely take pride in the fact that the Guangzhou citizens had a good time and that they are more familiar with the New York Liberty and WNBA, too! One youngster gave me a hug and asked me to come back another time. I certainly hope I do. And for a minute there, I felt like I was back in NY, being hugged by a Liberty fan!
As a mascot, my job is to have fun, spread joy, and promote unity. Taking this time to write about my 2012 highlights reminds me of how much I love this. Bark-outs to both the Liberty players and the fans for giving me so many great memories in 2012. Here's to creating many more together in 2013!