Does anybody else find Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, to be among the most interesting figures in sports? He attends just about every Mavericks home game, and many on the road as well, sitting in the stands amongst every other fan. He usually wears a Dallas Mavericks t-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes, and is always noticeable. He seems like the kind of guy who had everything handed to him his whole life, and is now blowing money like crazy, and making a scene while doing it.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cuban was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., moved to Dallas, TX in 1982 where he was a bartender turned software salesman. After being let go less than a year in, he started his own company, MicroSolutions which he sold in 1990 for $6 million. Cuban then joined forces with a fellow Indiana University alumnus and started Audionet. Eventually, Audionet became Broadcast.com, which was later acquired by Yahoo! for $5.9 billion in Yahoo! stock (I would love to provide you with links to Audionet and Broadcast.com but they all redirect to Yahoo! so you aren’t missing anything).
Since becoming owner of the Mavericks in 2000, Cuban has been fined over $1,665,000 for 13 different on and off court actions. His propensity to criticize officials, fans and opposing players has earned him a questionable reputation.
In 2006, Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki had this to say about Cuban:
“He’s got to learn how to control himself as well as the players do. We can’t lose our temper all the time on the court or off the court, and I think he’s got to learn that, too. He’s got to improve in that area and not yell at the officials the whole game. I don’t think that helps us…. He sits right there by our bench. I think it’s a bit much. But we all told him this before. It’s nothing new. The game starts, and he’s already yelling at them. So he needs to know how to control himself a little.”
What many people don’t see or understand about Cuban is what he does when cameras aren’t rolling. For every dollar he has been fined by the NBA, he matches it with an equal donation to a charitable cause. In a nationally publicized incident he criticized the league’s manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, saying he “wouldn’t be able to manage a Dairy Queen.” When DQ management took offense, Cuban worked for a day at a Dairy Queen in Texas.
The most recent incident with Mark Cuban involved him approaching Kenyon Martin’s mom in the stands at a Mavericks/Nuggets playoff game and saying, “Your son is a punk.” Obviously tempers flared, Cuban was immediately regretful and issued an apology on his blog to the Martin family.
This incident spurred my interest in Cuban. Anybody who watches the NBA knows about Cuban. Most people think he is loud and arrogant, but not many people know the nitty gritty about him and it tends to lead to a grand misunderstanding. In reality, Cuban could be perceived a great ambassador for the game, although sometimes a PR nightmare. Even when he does do things that the public greatly criticizes him for, he makes up for it in his own way, behind closed doors. He doesn’t intentionally draw attention to himself, he genuinely cares about his team, his fans, and the sport of basketball. I think it’s great that while most team owners are passive observers, Cuban is passionate about his team. He stands up for his players and coaches, shows loyal support by attending the majority of their games, and continues to build his investment portfolios off the court.
The man is truly a controversial genius.