Schuyler Dixon

Dad hates Father’s Day.

The same goes for his birthday, which quietly passes each and every year. I honestly can’t remember the last time I got him a gift, either.

Whether it’s a cheesy card or grotesque fishing hat, those are the days most people use to show their gratitude for who their dad has been.

But even if I haven’t given him a hug in five years, Dad is my role model -- a hero of mine since the day I was born. And the only way I know how to show it is through my overwhelming sense of pride to be his son.

I don’t want to grow up and make tons of money, and I don’t have any desire to live in a huge house.

Honestly, I just want to be like him. A kind, selfless individual who’s known for three things: humor, being genuine and true to everyone he encounters and covering sports.

That’s why Mom fell for him. She had a type — and he was anything but— but when they met at a Friday night football game in West Texas, there was something about him she couldn’t resist.

She was a newspaper gal, and someone I had a deep admiration and affection for, too. But when Mom died unexpectedly in July 2012, that bond with my Dad grew even more.

He’s all I have left, man. And I can’t take anything for granted.

He writes for the Associated Press in Dallas – a job he plays off like it’s a run-of-the-mill, nine-to-five duty. His coverage includes — but is not limited to, according to one of his former Twitter bios— the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers and local colleges.

So, when the Dallas Mavs came to town for Lincoln’s first NBA preseason game in 20 years last Friday, I was more than enthusiastic about representing The Daily Nebraskan on press row.

Not because I got to see a boyhood idol in Dirk Nowitzki. Not because my contemporary setting crossed paths with my roots.

But simply because, for one night, I was the Dixon covering the Mavs — immensely proud to be there.

In a way, it was surreal; an embodiment of role reversal.

I arrived two hours early, hoping to see the likes of Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons, and coach Rick Carlisle — guys my dad spent a ton of time around back home.

When I reached the court, hardly transformed from what it will look like during the winter, I walked around, searching for story ideas.

I also took some time to watch the Mavs warm up. I watched Nowitzki stretch on the baseline. Then, the 7-foot German went through his pregame routine. For the first time ever, I took it in not as a fan but as a member of the media.

I also saw Carlisle sitting down peacefully on the sidelines. There was an exceptionally-remote chance he’d recognize my face, and he didn’t. (I thought about approaching him, knowing he knew my Dad. Then, I realized just how awful that idea was and thanked the small bit of common sense running through my head).

A bit later, still searching for story ideas, I scaled the lower-bowl steps and climbed to the concourse, where, in the northwest corner of the arena, the press box is located.

I scanned the list of names on the media seating chart, recognizing a handful of names from both Lincoln and Dallas.

And then, I saw ‘Dixon.’

Not him — but me. Neat-oh.

I knew a few of my Dad’s counterparts were here; it would be criminal not to say hi.

In the media room, I recognized Dwain Price, who covers the team for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. I’d spoken to Dwain once in my life, several months ago inside the American Airlines Center, where the Mavs both play and practice.

I approached Dwain, hoping he’d remember me.

“Dwain?” I asked, quietly.

He looked up.

“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I’m Schuyler’s son.”

He paused for a moment, and then, his face lit up. He’d remembered, but only because he knew my dad so well. Soon after, he called over Sarah Melton, who works for the Mavs public relations department.

“Hey Sarah, come here!” Dwain said. “Look who it is — it’s Schuyler’s son!”

Her face lit up, too. “No way,” she said with a grin. And then, Earl Sneed, who works for Mavs.com, also came our way.

Earl remembered me because he’d seen me and my Dad at a Mavs-Suns game in Phoenix during spring break.

We chatted briefly, and for a moment, I had an overwhelming sense of joy and appreciation for where I was.

For a moment, I had forgotten that I was a native Texan lost in the state of Nebraska — I felt at home more than I ever have in my two-plus years of living here.

And I wasn’t even Michael. Rather, I was Schuyler’s son, something that resonates with me just as much as anything.

I get plenty of grief for so often mentioning who my Dad is.

But the truth is, I love it. I love it simply because I’m darn proud to be his son — even if I don’t reflect that, too.

Without him, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today. I send him every single story I write, and have him watch or listen to every single broadcast I do.

And even if he doesn’t want to, he’ll eventually get around to critiquing me. Because of that, I get better and better at what I do. I owe most of it to him.

So, when Father’s Day rolls around, I probably won’t have a gift for Dad. I’ll just hope he reads this, appreciates the message and sends me an email detailing how I could’ve made it better.

sports@dailynebraskan.com