DALLAS – Tony Romo wore No. 9 once more Tuesday night.
It was a Dallas Mavericks uniform, not his iconic Cowboys jersey. He didn't play, either, unless you count the pre-game layup line behind NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki.
But the ceremonial 'Maverick For a Day' experience was very much a celebration of Romo's 14 seasons with the Cowboys organization – and plenty of his former coaches and teammates paid tribute to their longtime quarterback by attending the Mavericks' regular-season home finale against the Denver Nuggets.
Among the Cowboys there to watch: head coach Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, tight end Jason Witten, running back Ezekiel Elliott, linebacker Sean Lee, wide receivers Terrance Williams and Lucky Whitehead, safeties Byron Jones and Kavon Frazier, and several offensive linemen, including All-Pros Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin.
Gene Jones and Charlotte Jones Anderson also were in attendance.
"It's been great," Romo said on the Mavericks' TXA-21 telecast. "Just the way the Mavs have treated me and really the whole town, it's been overwhelming, honestly."
In conjunction with "Fan Appreciation Night" at a sold-out American Airlines Center, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hatched the idea to honor Romo's 14-year NFL career following his April 4 release from the Cowboys to become CBS Sports' lead NFL analyst.
Romo took part in a morning shootaround with the Mavericks and went through pre-game warmups Tuesday night in ceremonial fashion only – no actual playing time for the former all-state guard at Burlington High School (Wisconsin).
A brief timeline of an unprecedented night for the Cowboys' all-time passing yardage leader:
5:05 p.m.: Romo arrived at the AAC with his wife Candice and two sons, Hawkins and Rivers.
"Where's the locker room?" he asked reporters.
5:55 p.m.: In his pre-game press conference with reporters, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle described Romo's interaction with the team earlier in the day.
"He participated in our scout team, did a lot of the team shooting with the guys. He was getting a big kick out of it," Carlisle said. "It's pretty clear that he's a very high-level athlete. I can certainly see why he's been so successful in multiple sports. Above and beyond all of that, this is a guy that's truly touched by this gesture. It's very sincere. He had his 5-year-old son there this morning. His heart is warmed by it, as is ours.
"There is a circus surrounding this because everybody wants to get a glimpse. We understand that. This is how we feel about a special guy who's been a very special competitor in really a very special sports market."
6:15 p.m.: Cuban held court with reporters from a locker room Stairmaster, as is his pre-game custom, and described how the Romo tribute was assembled.
"We discussed it at Dirk's 30K (career points) dinner," Cuban said. "I basically said if we don't make the playoffs I'll do it, I kept my word. It's fun for me because I play pickup with Tony, I know he can play, I know he loves basketball, so it was just a win-win. For fans, Tony, the city, it was just all positives all around.
"I've been friends with Tony for a long time. Put aside his performance on the field and his importance there, that speaks for itself, but him, Troy (Aikman), Dirk, (Mike) Modano, Pudge (Rodriguez) – they're all icons in Dallas and we've recognized all of them."
6:30 p.m.: Fans began filing into the AAC, many wearing Romo Cowboys jerseys and special Mavericks T-shirts with "Romo, 9" on the back. One fan in the lower section held a sign that read, "Tony, Thanks For The Memories!"
7:25 p.m.:On his way to the court with his teammates for a day, Romo ran through the tunnel high-fiving family and fans who lined up on both sides from the locker room to the court entrance.
7:40 p.m.:After announcing the starting lineups, the Mavericks introduced Romo: "At guard, in his first season from Eastern Illinois, welcome to Dallas No. 9, Tony Romo!"
Carlisle and Nowitzki said a few words to the crowd, then handed Romo the mic.
"Thank you guys. This is an honor I could never dream of," he said. "I'm a very lucky guy. Thank you, Dallas. I love you."
9:30 p.m.: With just under three minutes remaining in the Mavericks' 109-91 loss, and the sold-out crowd chanting his name, Romo passed Carlisle and headed toward the scorer's table as if to playfully suggest he might enter the game.
Cuban pulled Romo back, much to the fans' disappointment, and the two shared a laugh. He never left the bench as the clock ticked down to zero.
At 32-49, the Mavericks have already been eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs race. Romo's involvement Tuesday drew national attention for its unique circumstances: a high-profile former NFL quarterback, just released a week earlier by America's Team, essentially living a basketball fan's dream.
Ultimately, though, Tuesday's purpose was to recognize everything Romo has given to sports fans over the years. Not just Cowboys fans – Dallas fans.
"This is a guy who has huge credibility as a competitor over just about every sport," Carlisle said. "He's played hurt. He's played with broken bones. He's gone through multiple collarbone injuries and played and performed.
"He's really done so many legendary things from a competitive standpoint. There's a lot of respect for him."