Mark Cuban On Nash, Sterling, Player Issues

Mark Cuban’s outspoken personality and his role on the television show “Shark Tank” have made the Mavericks honcho one of the most recognizable faces amongst all of the NBA’s majority owners. Cuban’s heart-on-his-sleeve comments about the league and its officiating have cost him over $2MM in fines thus far during his tenure in Dallas. The owner and tech billionaire sat down with Kenneth Arthur of Rolling Stone for an interview. The whole piece is worth a read, but here are some of the highlights…

On what his worst move as Mavs owner was:

Letting Steve Nash go. I learned an expensive lesson. It took me too many years to realize that for some GMs, their number-one job wasn’t winning a championship, it’s keeping their job. It’s easy to look back and see my mistakes today. I wish I would have been smart enough to know better back then. I loved taking risks to win. Unfortunately some of them were not as educated as they should have been.”

On if he empathized with Donald Sterling :

Did I empathize with him? Yes. Of course I did. This is an elderly man who grew up in a generation that is night-and-day in how it understood race and culture. And yes, I empathized with him because this was a conversation that took place in his kitchen and he had a right to expect privacy in his home. But none of that excused him from the rules of the NBA. He put the business of the NBA at risk. That is a situation that, while I have been fined, I have never found myself in and don’t expect to.”

On the key to being a successful team owner:

There are a couple keys. The first is recognizing that although I may be the one responsible for the bills, I don’t really own the team. All of North Texas and Mavs fans everywhere really own the team. Owning a popular sports team is very different than any other type of business. They don’t throw parades when Apple has the biggest quarter in corporate history. People don’t call and email asking for anyone from the team to come visit their sick child. They don’t cry as they request a jersey of their child’s favorite player to be buried with them. They don’t cheer and hug people they don’t know after a game-winning shot. The emotions of a city can rise and fall with a team and the owner has to realize that and cherish it. ”

The second is luck. I was fortunate to come when Dirk Nowitzki was just really coming into his own. You can’t take a team that doesn’t have a superstar player and get to the Finals twice and win it once. Average teams don’t make it to the Finals. I was lucky to have Dirk and even luckier not to mess it up. Even though at times people thought I had.”

On signing athletes who have had off-the-court issues in the past:

We have a team psychologist who spends time with all of our guys. While he won’t divulge specifics, we do discuss whether or not there are red flags regarding a player’s personal, professional or social life. We’ve had a functioning alcoholic on the team in the past and we put together plans and programs to help him. We’ve had other issues when we have asked the player to leave the team. We try very hard to be aware of what is going on in a player’s life because like all of us, it impacts our professional life and we want what is best for the person and their family. We try to build a team that has zero knuckleheads. If there is a player who is immature and not able to follow team rules, we might sign them, but the rule is no more than one knucklehead on the team.”

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