It was only fitting that the NBA season — which essentially started last summer as LeBron James announced on television that he was taking his talents to South Beach — would conclude in Miami as the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat in game six to win their first NBA Championship. If you would have told me or any NBA fan that the Mavericks were going to finally win it all, one would assume that owner Mark Cuban would be a prominent story-line and presence throughout their playoff run. Cuban is one of the most passionate owners in all of professional sports and also known as being outspoken and vociferous. His team was labeled ‘The One and Done Boys,’ for many years by the media for never getting it done in the NBA postseason.
His organization’s poster boy, Dirk Nowitzki, took a ton of criticism when the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 NBA Finals to the Miami Heat to only watch Dwyane Wade lead his team to four straight wins and a championship title that should have been theirs. The Mavs were overlooked and often considered a lapdog to many in the Western Conference, so Cuban let his team make the noise this postseason instead of speaking his mind. Well now Cuban is out of hiding finally and in the following interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas he explains the feeling of winning it all on the Mavericks bench in game six along with some great nuggets on the post-game celebration and a possible new idea for championship rings.[Photo via: Mark Cuban’s twitter account]Mark Cuban joined 105.3 The Fan in Dallas with New School (Shan and RJ) to discuss sleeping with the NBA Championship trophy after the Mavericks defeated the Heat in game six, how long before he let someone else take the NBA Championship trophy, the final few seconds on the Mavericks bench before the final horn sounded and Dallas was officially NBA World Champions, this year’s squad being a special group of guys and players, the NBA Finals against the Heat being personal, what he saw in Rick Carlisle that made him believe he would lead the Mavericks to a NBA title, where he has been this whole NBA postseason since he didn’t speak with the media as much as usual and his new plan of not having the Mavericks where championship rings, but something new to ‘change the game.’
He may have been the most excited man in Miami last night and I woke up to a tweet that said ‘this might be weird, but I’m laying next to the World Championship trophy.’ I don’t think it sounds that weird at all. Is that a true story Mark?“It’s true. I haven’t fallen asleep yet. I’m still up from last night. Did someone throw a no-hitter?”How long before you let someone else take that NBA Championship trophy?“I grabbed it. I wouldn’t let anyone take it from me. We went out and had to show it off some with some our friends last night and then back to the hotel. I was like ‘It’s mine baby! It ain’t going anywhere!’ Literally I couldn’t fall asleep. I was answering emails. I just set it down on the bed. I was just starring at it. I’m like ‘Is it good for you two?’
“Take us through 4-3-2-1 and the emotions right behind the Mavericks bench of watching the finals seconds count down to the championship?
“It was crazy because probably with 3 minutes left everybody is like ‘Okay hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Let’s see what happens.’ It got to the point where we got it under two minutes and we knew. They hit a shot and then we got a couple of rebounds and then it was like ‘Okay are they just going to let the clock run out so we could storm the court?’ Everybody was just holding each other on the sidelines, holding each other against the bench, just counting down the seconds and then we all just let loose. It was great.”
What made this year’s team so special?
“I mean I think the fact that it was a team and the fact that there weren’t a lot of expectations for us. The Dallas media, the national media, they were calling us the ‘One and done boys.’ The Denver Nuggets coach is saying they want to play the Mavericks. I don’t think anyone picked us to beat Portland [in the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs], so while nobody else was believing in us everybody inside the locker-room had confidence and faith and focus and knew we could get it done. I think that’s what made is special when everybody doubts you and everybody just kind of dismisses you the fact that you are able to come through makes it all the more sweet. That’s what makes this team special. No one believed in us, but us. That’s all that matters.”Rick Carlisle said this series was personal.
How much of that had to do with playing the Heat in the NBA Finals five years ago or just playing a team for this long and just starting to hate the other team?
“The fact that you get to know the other team so well and you get sick of playing them. These guys we were tired of seeing their faces and they were tired of seeing ours. Every game was so close and each team had a lead in every game. The lead swings. The emotional swings. The mood swings were so dramatic every game. It was like a heavy weight fight every punch counted. When you’re punching and counter punching against each other so many times in a row you get sick of the other team. Let alone playing them we don’t like going into their arena. They don’t like going into ours. There was a lot of chippiness.”Let’s talk about Rick Carlisle.
What did you see in Carlisle that made you think he could be the guy to lead you to a championship and what did he bring to your organization?
“Well we did a lot of the knowledge because I’m a stat geek and one of the analysis we did was we looked to see when players switched teams which coach helped them create the most improvement and Rick [Carlisle] was at the top of the list and not only was he one at the top of the list, he was available, so we went hard after him and I think the other part of it was any coach in any system takes a little bit of getting use to and a little bit of understanding.
It took us a little bit of time. I’m not going to lie and say Rick just immediately walked in and everybody got it and bought in, but over time we got better and better and better. People understood his system better and we started to believe it and started to execute all the better and then once we got into the playoffs where adjustments, where everything, you know you play a team in a game. Miami beat us in the first game and you have to go make adjustments. I think Rick showed he was the best coach in all of these playoffs. He literally kicked everybody’s ass when it came to adjustments and putting us in the position to win.”
You have gone missing from the media the whole 2011 NBA post season. Where have you been?
“I was in Bermuda hanging out having some cocktails. I just didn’t want to put myself in the same position I had in the few previous years with the media. When we realized we were going to play the Lakers I knew I was going to get nothing, but questions about Phil Jackson and Ron Artest and things that have been said over the years. I just don’t want to deal with it, so it’d be more interesting and more fun for me to just to say nothing and then everybody picked up on it and made it even more interesting and then we kept on winning, so there was no reason to mess with the karma. It wasn’t any plan. It wasn’t anything specific. It just worked out the way it did.” This is a new school type of a show. I think you are a new school type of owner. What is this I’m hearing about when you said ‘No championship rings. That’s outdated.’
What’s going on with the backup plan?
What’s the Mark Cuban championship plan? “It’s not a backup plan. It’s a change the rules plan. It’s just like I’m going to sit down and I had some brief conversations with Dirk [Nowitzki], Jay Kidd, and Jason [Terry]. We want to change the game. What I told them was ‘Look everybody wears short shorts until the Fab Five came along and then everybody went to long shorts. Now short shorts look outdated.’ I said we want to do the same thing when it comes to rings and how we represent or how we record the fact that we won a championship. Part of the fact is that it irks the hell out of me that you got into towns where teams have won a ring or won a championship and you know the ball boys, the towel boys, everybody has got a ring. It kind of deflates the value and the impact, so I don’t know exactly what we are going to do, but we are going to try to change the game.”