Mark Cuban was fuming.
His team had just blown a 23-point lead in a Game 4 loss to Portland in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Mavericks were two losses from another early-round exit, the likely firing of head coach Rick Carlisle and yet another in a seemingly endless re-shuffling of bit parts around star Dirk Nowitzki.
And, to be very clear, he didn't want to talk to some stupid reporter -- though we go back to the day he bought the team -- who had just labeled his team the "Mav-wrecks."
"Nope," Cuban wrote me in an email on April 25 declining an interview. "You've already written your end to our season. But we've got something else in mind."
And with that...radio silence.
After complaining that a Portland fan hit him in the face with hurled straw early in that series, Cuban went mute. The spotlight-loving showman of an owner retreated into the shadows, shunned interviews and watched while his Mavericks made history.
Ironic that when Cuban finally shut up his team finally put up.
Last night Cuban partied on South Beach and slept with the NBA Finals trophy. He deserves it. Say what you want about his antics -- always screaming at refs and lurking around his team's bench -- the dude is nothing if not passionate and persistent and willing to pay whatever it takes to win.
And, as of last night, he's also a class act.
While America waited for the deliciously uncomfortable moment when commissioner David Stern was forced to hand the NBA Finals trophy to a renegade owner he'd fined for hundreds of thousands of dollars for outlandish behavior and direct criticism of the league office, Cuban pulled a fast one. And a cool one.
Late in the game Cuban motioned toward the stands behind Dallas' bench. He summoned someone to join in the celebration.
Ross Perot Jr.? Hardly. None other than Don Carter, the 77-year-old Stetson-wearing founding father of the Mavericks. It was Carter -- not Cuban -- who fittingly first laid hands on the first championship in Mavs history.
Said Carter in the locker room, "Waited so long for this I can't tell you how special it is. For Mark to ask me up there...it was the best gesture I could imagine. He's grown into the owner I always imagined he could be."
Even better, Cuban says he'll foot the bill for Dallas' championship parade.
We may never shut Cuban up again. And that's perfectly fine.
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