Cuban Speaks: Does One Mavs Quote Say It All?

I was at a 1998 company Christmas party when host Mark Cuban climbed atop a bar to predict his little firm would become ‘the greatest company around!' It was ballsy and inspired and a year later he sold Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion. Now it's 13 years later. And the Mavs boss is on the bar again. Ballsy? Inspired? My quick visit with Cuban lets you judge his brief, snappy Free-Agent Week summary:



Mark Cuban eventually used his chunk of that $5.7 billion in Yahoo stock to buy his favorite basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks. The Pittsburgh native who'd adopted Dallas as his second hometown and who owned cheap-seat tickets to the Mavs at Reunion Arena oversaw the turnaround of one of sports' poorest franchises into one of its finest, culminating of course in an NBA title a year ago with Dirk Nowitzki as the iconic leader.
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Twelve months after achieving that pinnacle, the Mavs are conservatively observing their reading of the CBA bylaws and laboring to do lots of things while doing nothing stupid.

Instead, of course, they've done nothing.

Which takes me to the one sentence in my just-now conversation with the Mavs owner that he believes summarizes the Mavs' lack of success and maybe our reactions to it, too:

"We don't try to win the summer,'' Cuban tells me. "We want to win championships.''

Crazy? Inspired?

How can you see inspiration or innovation at this moment when Cuban's Mavs are -- in non-debatable fact -- 0-for-5 while trying?

* 1: Thursday, the Mavs traded down in the NBA Draft and among the goals (forgetting for now whether the three kids taken can play) was to chop exactly $934,905 from the team's cap commitment. That mission was accomplished, but it's a failure the sense that the purpose of the chop was to acquire Deron.

*2: Friday was Odom Deadline Day. The Mavs' wish was to push his deadline back, an inside-Mavs-HQ trick first discovered by DB.com. It was a heckuva scoop and a heckuva idea ... except Odom didn't agree to do it -- despite the Mavs telling us about their cozy relationship with agent Jeff Schwartz, who did his "friends'' no favors here.

*3: Schwartz was involved again as the 2012 free agency chase began on Sunday. Top free agent target Deron Williams turned down Dallas' bid, opting to remain with Brooklyn.

*4: The Mavs' backup plan Steve Nash did likewise on Wednesday, considering Dallas before leaving Phoenix for the Lakers.

*5: And now there is the Thursday news that Jason Kidd has flip-flopped away from his reported three-year agreement with Dallas to instead join the Knicks instead.

(Schwartz is also his agent. I bet the next time Cuban oversees a company holiday party, Jeff Schwartz' invite will not get stamped.)

That's The Week That Wasn't.

Do they get credit for trying, for being in the poker game, for finishing second in three high-profile free-agent pursuits and in two other moves that DB.com Premium Mavs Fans know the details of?

Not really, no.

Cuban's specialty is building "the greatest company in the world!'' multiple times. Some patience would allow us to watch him attempt to do it again in this supposedly restrictive CBA era. But we've grown accustomed to bold Mavs gifts -- ballsy and inspired gifts -- and ever since the controversial decision to not make a commitment to Tyson Chandler, there are vacancies under our tree.

I'm not being a homer (I don't think) to state definitively that Cuban has earned the right to maneuver as he sees fit. All that time, all that money, all that commitment ... the balls and the inspiration ... and finally, after a 31-year wait for long-tortured Mavs fans ... Larry.

At the same time .... WE have earned the right to have an opinion on the maneuvers. Logically, we can term Cuban "the best owner in sports'' and still disagree vehemently with this getting-you-nowhere direction.

Especially valued around here are informed opinions. (Once we're done primal screaming, gossipping that he's selling the team, or demanding that he free Dirk, that is.)

"Don't tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby''? I get that. ... even as I'm not sure Mark -- combative as he is with some who question him, especially in this case if they don't come armed with a PhD in CBA -- always does.
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I've known Mark Cuban for 17 years. He is an always complicated and sometimes unpredictable fellow, but I promise you his competitive nature and unquenchable desire for Mavs success matches yours and matches mine. That doesn't make his CBA-obsessive approach the right one, and through all the frustration, we really cannot know if it is the right one given the tiny window of these last fateful seven days.

After today, I'm left with the belief that Cuban will eventually offer a lengthy explanation of his view of what went down with the aforementioned five failures. (Here, ESPN, his own blog, while bludgeoning Skip Bayless, wherever.) For now, he has said what he believes he needs to say and we must only hope that in the end it proves to be as ballsy and inspiring as his other business build-ups:

"We don't try to win the summer,'' Cuban tells me. "We want to win championships.''

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