It wasn't exactly as declarative as when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones injected his all-or-nothing expectations into the season a month ago, but Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes his team is as good - actually, better - than the one that went to the NBA Finals in 2006.
"The feeling and the buzz in our locker room is off the charts, literally the best it's been in a good five years," Cuban told me and Newy Scruggs on 105.3 The Fan yesterday morning. "Every guy here that was a part of that Finals run thinks we have a much better team. It's not even close. If you compare rosters we're a far better team than that Finals team. We're deeper. More athletic. Defensively and offensively we have more flexibility. This year it's like 'Oh my goodness.' Guys are fired up. It's a whole different feeling. I'm excited."
The holdovers from the '06 team are again the nucleus of this year's team - Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Erick Dampier. Howard's coming off off-season ankle surgery. Dirk's new look - shaggy hair, headband - makes him one of those GEICO caveman. Jason Kidd-to-Shawn Marion should be fun to watch.
But it's a looong way from Friday's pre-season game in Washington to June. It's not, however, a stretch to see the similarities between Jones and Cuban.
They've teamed up to host the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. They're both unfathomably shrewd and relentless marketers. And they both recently appeared on HBO's Joe Buck: Live.
Their surprising consensus about spending millions and maintaining successful, high-profile franchises in this treacherous financial climate?
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