This article originally appeared in Athlon Sports Monthly, available in newspapers around the country.
So does Mark Cuban still sleep with the NBA championship trophy? We figured there was only one way to find out. So we asked him. Along with a lot of other questions — some probing, some whimsical.
When it comes to pro sports franchise owners, there are those who are conservative, some who are outspoken and one who has shown he can detonate some atomic reactions with his opinions.
Cuban has owned the Dallas Mavericks since 2000, and his team won the first NBA championship in franchise history in June. Like everybody else, they are waiting for the labor situation to allow the 2011-12 season to begin. It’s the lockout that has helped Cuban keep a relatively low profile since the parade and post-championship glow subsided and the work stoppage began July 1.
In the meantime, Cuban has had to spend a summer without hanging around any of his players, many of whom he counts as good friends.
We caught up with the 53-year-old billionaire for a quick Q&A about what has been going on with him and how life has changed since winning the title.
How different has this summer as a champion been compared to all those summers spent tied for last, as you like to say?
I get to enjoy ending the season on a win. It’s been unbelievable. It feels great.
Anybody treat you any differently, like maybe getting free stuff at the store or different kinds of questions from folks?
I’ve walked into places around the country and people have stood up and clapped. It’s kind of bizarre, but it gets the emotions stirring in me every time. No free stuff, though. The other cool thing is that people don’t congratulate me, they thank me. That has never happened before.
How about your outlook on life? Does a championship soften the edge a little?
Not really. I love to compete.
Are your daughters now starting to understand what daddy does and grasping what a championship means?
Not fully, but they like all the Mavs outfits their mom makes for them!
Has being an NBA champion made any difference at all in your more important job, which is being a dad?
No. Basketball is a small part of my life compared to my kids.
What’s the average day like with you and the kids (even though there’s no such thing as an average day with kids)?
Get up for school, listen to them complain about something. Force them to eat. Get them to school. After school they have so many activities, I don’t see them until dinner. Fortunately this summer we took a few weeks off and went on a family trip, which was great.
Regarding Texas fans, does it humble you a little knowing that what your team does can have an impact on so many lives, and do you look at Dallas and North Texas as a really good sports area?
Yes and yes. I learned early on that I don’t really own the team; all of North Texas does. It really is a great feeling to know how much the Mavs can positively impact kids and families. North Texas is a great sports region. We love our teams. And while we make a lot of noise when we don’t win, we always end up being there to support them, win or lose.
What about your television exploits? We know about the “Dancing With the Stars” experience, but what about “Shark Tank,” where you have a recurring role fielding business proposals from aspiring entrepreneurs?
I’m a huge fan (of “Shark Tank”). I love what they do and I thought it would be a good idea to go on. I get pitched business proposals every day. I solicit ideas on my blog. That’s just part of my life. If I see a way somebody can have a successful business and create new jobs, I’ll invest.
What was more gratifying, an NBA title or selling Broadcast.com for a bajillion dollars, and why?
Broadcast.com. No question. That changed my life and the lives of future generations. With a championship, the trophy is only yours for one year and you have to do it again. That said, it was an amazing feeling that I wish would never end.
You’ve toyed with the idea of owning another sports franchise like the Los Angeles Dodgers or Chicago Cubs. Do you foresee that in your future?
Don’t know about that.
What’s the hardest part about owning a sports franchise?
Recognizing that the mood of North Texas goes up and down with the Mavs every fall.
Who do you consider your best friends among other NBA owners? Or are they all just competitors?
I get along with most of the guys. Most of the time.
What’s your favorite sport to watch, outside of the NBA?
Rugby. I played a lot in college. It’s a blast.
What do you do with the trophy? Do you keep it with you when you are driving around? Please tell me you aren’t still sleeping with it.
No. When it’s not visiting Mavs fans or customers, it’s in my office or kitchen so I can see it every day.
Now that you have a championship, are you less or more likely to be open to selling the Mavericks?