NBA Barbie collection completed with help from an ESPN writer

Published 8:32 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

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On Wednesday afternoon, David Fleming, ESPN senior writer, knocked on the door of Brundidge resident Marilyn Harvey.

Although unknown to Harvey and her daughter, Candice, Fleming was there to complete Marilyn Harvey’s search – her mission-of more than 23 years.

It was that long ago, that Harvey caught NBA Barbie fever while on a Christmas shopping trip.

David Fleming, an ESPN senior writer, was working on a sports tie-in for the July 21 release of “Barbie” the movie. He found out about the Harvey’s search and, with the help of fellow ESPN writer Alonzo Olmedo, was able to locate the rare Mavericks Barbie and help a mother and daughter complete the collection.

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Harvey, a basketball fan and a former player at Pike County High School, was a huge fan of the National Basketball Association. That fascination, coupled with her daughter’s love of dolls, “inspired” Harvey to buy, not one, but all, the NBA Barbies.  However, she decided to postpone the gift until Candice’s birthday in February 2000. That would give her more time and means to find and purchase all 29 NBA Barbies.

Marilyn rather quickly found 28 NBA Barbies, but, no matter how far or how many searchers she enlisted to help her, no Dallas Mavericks cheerleader could be found. So, Candice celebrated her birthday with the gift collection of 28 NBA Barbie cheerleaders.

Harvey’s search for the Dallas Mavericks cheerleader continued from one year to the next. When Candice celebrated her birthday in 2023, once again, the Dallas Mavericks Barbie cheerleader was still missing from the collection.

Marilyn was disappointed. However, she had no idea that somewhere, actually everywhere, a massive search was underway for the missing Dallas Mavericks Barbie.

The reason was that, at ESPN, ideas for a sports’ connection to the opening release of “Barbie” the movie on July 21, 2023, had been tossed around.

At some point, someone in Texas, came across an article in the 2000 Troy Messenger about “A mom on a mission with Barbie fever.”

That was the hook ESPN needed.

The “mom” Marilyn Harvey was willing to share the story but the story needed closure, Fleming said.

ESPN’s search for the missing Dallas Mavericks Barbie was on, in Dallas, all across the USA, in Singapore, in the Netherlands, in Germany and back to Arlington, Texas. And, there, the mission was accomplished. A Dallas Mavericks Barbie was found and the owner was willing to sell.

Fleming said the much sought-after Barbie was delivered to an Arlington filling station via a motor-scooter. Ironically, the exchange of the elusive Barbie took place within 15 minutes of ESPN writer Alonzo Olmedo’s home.  Olmedo did additional reporting for Fleming’s article.

Olmedo picked up the Dallas Mavericks Barbie, overnighted her to Fleming in North Carolina and Fleming came to Brundidge on Wednesday.

When Fleming presented Marilyn and Candice with a gift bag, they were gracious in accepting his thoughtfulness.

But then, they realized …“Oh, don’t do this to me!” Marilyn said.  ‘Oh, David!”

She and Candice tearfully hugged each other and thanked Fleming between laughter and tears of joy.

The search had ended in such a “wonderful and blessed way.”

“I don’t cry much,” Marilyn said. “Faith has brought me here.”

For Candice, her thoughts were of her mother’s love, kindness and “perseverance.”

And, for David Fleming and ESPN, there were no words adequate for “such a blessing.”

Marilyn will celebrate the completion of the NBA Barbie collection at the Harvey’s’ family reunion next year; then the collection will be off to Atlanta with Candice, who plans to, one day, donate the collection to the Smithsonian.

The worldwide search for the missing Dallas Mavericks NBA Barbie is over.

“Thanks, David Fleming and ESPN.”