How good were the Dallas Mavericks – with a league-best 67-15 record – this season? Entering the NBA playoffs, their impetuous owner, Mark Cuban, had not drawn a single fine from the league for criticizing officiating all season long.
This is a fellow who’s piled up $1.45 million in NBA penalties since buying the Mavericks in 2000.
Cuban zipping his lip for that long is as statistically unlikely as “American Idol” being canceled in favor of “American Bandstand.”
Ah, but if I were a betting man, I would wager that Cuban’s silent act will end the moment the Mavericks hit a big bump in the postseason road. For he is like the frustrated fan sitting at home in his underwear whining about his team losing, except that Cuban’s sitting in silk underwear and owns the team.
(By the way, Cuban reportedly is interested in buying the Chicago Cubs. You think he’s got a rotten courtside manner disputing loose ball fouls? Wait until you see him at Wrigley Field arguing balls and strikes.)
Even when he doesn’t talk about officiating, he talks about officiating. Here is a Cuban blog entry from last week:
“I’m not going to comment on what happened during our Spurs game Sunday. My feelings about the subject haven’t changed and it’s not worth the money to comment on it here. In fact, I’ve given up writing in this blog about the NBA because my number one rule of blogging is that if you can’t offer an honest opinion, say nothing.”
You see, Cuban can’t help himself. He can sit there in his David Stern University T-shirt and play the role of reformed bad boy for only so long; eventually, the billionaire pout will come out.
He stormed onto the court last season after Game 1 of the Mavericks-Spurs playoff series and was fined $200,000. He railed against the refs after Game 5 of the NBA Finals and was fined $250,000.
Mid-Column Confession: I want to like Mark Cuban. But if you’re producing a reality show starring Dennis Rodman, if you’re sitting in the front row at NBA games 100 nights a year berating refs, if you’re blogging about every other bowel movement you have, well, we’re not going to be hanging out drinking Shiner Bocks.
(Actually, I’m done with Shiner Bock. When Couch Slouch and Rolling Rock parted ways, a reader suggested Shiner Bock as a replacement brew. I signed on, stupidly. If I had known that Quentin Tarantino quaffs Shiner Bock – a fact I was reminded of when I recently saw the depraved “Grindhouse” – I would’ve poured it all down the nearest storm drain. Tarantino and Cuban gaze into the same mirror, only Tarantino prefers it blood-stained.)
Granted, Cuban, 48, knows how to make money – he’s worth about $1.8 billion – and he runs a first-class, fan-friendly NBA franchise. Cuban even lists his e-mail address on the team’s Web site and responds to messages; imagine if the Redskins’ Dan Snyder did that – he’d be so buried in fan complaints, he wouldn’t have time to sign overpriced free agents!
Cuban has a Boeing 757 with a weight room and HD TVs that he lent to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for their nuptials in Italy.
(Personal note: In a sign of things to come, I took a hearse to my second wedding.)
Alas, he apparently believes that obscene wealth and the occasional 17-game winning streak give him a license to brag, blabber and blog with impunity.
Cuban never gets tired of the sound of his own voice. The problem is, he has a tin ear; every time he opens his mouth, he hears Sinatra.
But the real problem runs deeper than his constant self-aggrandizement. Cuban is symptomatic of an increasingly uncivilized, unruly sporting public – if he doesn’t get his way, he cries and, if nobody listens, he cries louder.
And if the Mavericks finally win the NBA title, Cuban probably will hire Tarantino to produce the championship video.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Do you think bullpen carts will ever make a comeback in baseball? (Dan Wise; Minneapolis)
A. If shortsighted Bud Selig ever lifts the restrictions on Japanese imports, Honda has a hybrid cart that will knock your socks off.
Q. Why would Joey Crawford want to fight Tim Duncan? (Tim Royce; Memphis)
A. Well, for starters, I know NBA refs have been stewing ever since Charles Barkley kicked Dick Bavetta’s butt in a foot race.
Q. I am getting married soon. Would you attend the ceremony and act as the honorary starter? (Phil Hausman; Albany, N.Y.)
A. The thing is, virtually every wedding I attend – yeah, most of them are my own – ends up problematically. And I’d really like to see you kids make it.
Q. Man, does Kobe Bryant ever shoot a lot. Will he be the first basketball player to need Tommy John surgery? (Thomas C. Baumann; Pittsburgh)
A. Actually, in the NBA I believe they call that “World B. Free surgery.”
Q. Is it true the Michelin Man has been taking substances from Barry Bonds’ locker? (Joe Marusic; New Berlin, Wis.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.