Mark Cuban on the new NBA season, his bitter rivalry with Donald Trump, and posing courtside in a Speedo.
Mark Cuban is living the American Dream. After selling his second start-up, broadcast.com, to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999, he bought a $14 million jet over the internet (the largest online transaction ever, at the time), and, oh yeah, an NBA team. Lately Cuban has been dabbling in the film industry, producing Good Night, and Good Luck and buying a controlling interest in Lion’s Gate Film and Landmark Theaters. In January he’ll rock Hollywood’s standard distribution practice by releasing Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, and on cable. Back on the Mavericks’ sidelines Cuban is a ubiquitous force, high-fiving players, blowing kisses to fans, and whispering sweet nothings to refs (he was fined more than $1 million last season), all the while underwriting the team’s underwater treadmills and plush towel selection. He has also turned a joke franchise into one that regularly looks forward to postseason play. It seems that everything Cuban touches turns to gold, which is why Radar Online turned to him for some subtle words on Donald Trump, the NBA dress code, and the possibility that he will wear a Speedo on opening day.
RADAR ONLINE: Are you really going to wear a Speedo tomorrow, as you threatened on your blog, to protest the NBA’s dress code?
MARK CUBAN: If someone gave enough money to charity I would. I’ve worn some crazy shit in my life, so who knows? If I thought it would make a valid point, I would. I’m not opposed to anything.
The “excluded items” in the NBA dress code (including gold chains, throwback jerseys, and sweatpants) are a lot like the items banned from public high schools to curb gang violence. Don’t players at the very least feel offended by the implication that they can’t appropriately dress themselves?
You have to understand how out of touch some of the owners are. These are the guys that wanted Elvis banned, Lenny Bruce jailed, MTV closed down, and thought the Fresh Prince was gangster.
Don’t you think it seems racist?
If a majority of the NBA looked as though they belonged in ZZ Top or looked like the Beatles, they would have banned beards and Nehru jackets. They just aren’t in touch.
What kind of dress code would you come up with for NBA executives?
I’d require Hawaiian shirts, Bermuda shorts, and a mandatory drink with an umbrella.
Which of your NBA fines delivered the most bang for your buck?
No question the Dairy Queen fine. [Last season Cuban told a ref that he wasn’t fit to run a Dairy Queen; he was fined $500,000, and DQ issued him a tongue-and-cheek challenge to manage one of its ice cream stands for a day, which he did.] There was no amount of money I could have spent to re-create the circus that occurred and all the fun I had. I learned how to make a Blizzard. What could be better?
How do the coaches and players respond to your input?
I stopped giving basketball input a long time ago.
Have you ever showed up with face paint on?
No, but I did wear a Mavs tattoo on my face my first year. My girlfriend made me do it for good luck, and we ended up making an amazing comeback against Utah.
You’ve said that basketball coverage was too personality based and not sufficiently strategy based. Why would you be frustrated by coverage that makes the sport more accessible?
It’s more a reflection of the quality of coverage. “How did you feel about your game tonight?” or “Is so and so earning his money?” isn’t quality coverage. Name three plays NBA teams run. Now name three plays NFL teams run. That’s where the difference lies.
What’s your fantasy starting lineup?
Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade.
You would put Shaq and Kobe on the same team? There has to be some reality in fantasy…
I can babysit them.
How often are you asked for money?
At least a hundred times per day, via e-mail and in person. I’ve been asked for braces, hair transplants, new teeth, breast implants, new cars, new houses, new jewelry. You name it.
How involved were you in Good Night, and Good Luck?
I wasn’t that involved after I wrote the check. I did some promotion, but I was down the line after George [Clooney] and David [Strathairn]. They did all the heavy lifting. It was really George’s labor of love.
Explain The Benefactor and why it was canceled. Do you harbor resentment toward Donald Trump for winning the reality TV war?
It came down to ratings, pure and simple. I think I listened to the producers too much at the beginning rather than being myself. They were making me say shit I would never say. Trump won that war, but I haven’t seen Trump dolls, Trump University, clothes, fragrance, et al. selling. Rich guys who hustle that hard for every dollar either aren’t as rich as they want you to believe or are afraid they’re going to fuck it up.
And yet you own an apartment in one of his buildings.
I bought it five years ago, but more important, he doesn’t own the building. It’s just his name on it. You know, when he was giving me shit about my TV show and I was returning fire, one of the things I said in a promo just to piss him off was “I could write a check bigger than Trump and not know it was missing.” It was only in an ABC internal video, but he got wind of it. His lawyers threatened to sue if I didn’t retract the statement. I told him that I think it’s true and am willing to put my finances up against his publicly. I told his lawyers that he probably should sue me so we can settle the whole thing in public—if he is at all liquid, with all that net worth, he would win hands down. I never heard a word back.
You list Bill Gates, Dennis Rodman, and Paris Hilton among your role models. Defend.
All have taken nothing and made a whole lot of money and their dreams come true.
Come on—Paris Hilton, a role model?
She’s an heiress with a good marketing plan. Put aside that she had family money; she has created her own empire by just playing the media to accomplish her goals. That’s the American dream.
Before he was a ballplayer Rodman was pushing a broom at the Dallas airport. He’s a genetic freak. It’s as if he’s always in shape. If he decided to be a basketball player rather than an attendance draw, he could make an NBA comeback at 40.
You keep a “No Fucking Way” list of things you’d like to do but that seem out of reach. One thing you’ve recently crossed off was becoming a Hollywood player. What’s on the list now?
To invent a word that becomes common.
Well, in the Jeopardy category of Geek Words, I’ve come up with splog. You’ve heard of spam and blogs, so a spam blog would be a splog.
Hmmm. Not likely to make you billions, but what do I know?
Splog speaks for itself. By the way, Icerocket is one of my companies. Great tool for tracking new information about any topic.
Mark Cuban rants at blogmaverick.com and can be seen waving frantically on the sidelines in Dallas all season long.