This is an article from the June 22, 2009 issue
TYCOON AND HOOPS JUNKIE
Following his team's second-round loss to the Nuggets, the Dallas owner has been preparing for next week's draft, in which his team picks 22nd.
Dan Patrick: Would you trade places with Bill Gates?
Mark Cuban: No. I've got enough money. Everything else, I've got the advantage on him. Bill Gates has loftier goals than I do. He's a nice guy, and I'm sure he's happy with the way things are going for him. But I was thrilled with my life when I was broke.
DP: Why don't we try it again? Give me a billion, and I'll hold it for you.
MC: Just wait until you have to pay that first tax bill.
DP: If I said you could own Manchester United, the Yankees or the Cowboys, which would you choose?
MC: Probably the Yankees. I'm a Cowboys fan, but the Yankees would be a lot more interesting.
DP: But Manchester United is a global brand.
MC: I'm not a soccer guy.
DP: But you're a money guy.
MC: Yeah, but I've got to love what I'm doing. That's the benefit of having money. I get to pick and choose.
DP: Do you have final call on draft day?
MC: Absolutely. Simply because all the scouts and [coaches and front office] can't always make a decision. When it's unanimous, it's easy. But if it's a toss-up, I'm the arbiter.
DP: The WNBA started allowing teams to put sponsor logos on their game jerseys. How far away are we from seeing that in the NBA?
MC: We already know we're whores, it's just a question of how much. If somebody gave me enough money, I could convince [the league]. But it can't be $100,000. If someone says $5 million for the year, they'd have to look long and hard, and I think I could convince them.
DP: What about the fan blowback?
MC: It'd be a media hassle, because all the traditionalists would use this as ammunition to write their articles, and it'd be forgotten in 33 days. But [fans] realize the more that comes in from advertising, the more realistic ticket prices can be. And particularly with the economy the way it is, fans are a lot smarter about the economics of sports.
DP: What's going on with Dirk Nowitzki? [His fiancée was found to have a criminal record and was arrested at his home last month on theft charges.]
MC: He's on vacation, so I've been texting him. He's just getting through it, like anyone else who broke up with a girlfriend under not-so-pleasant circumstances. In my opinion this lady was a con artist, and Dirk was the victim. He's broken up with her, and he's leaving it behind him.
DP: Doesn't he know you're the one who's supposed to be making headlines?
MC: When all the Kenyon Martin stuff came out [after Cuban called Martin a thug while standing near the Denver player's mother], let's just say I didn't downplay it, knowing all that Dirk stuff was going on.
DP: So you took one for the team?
MC: I always take one for the team. That's my job.
Last week Derek Fisher (four NBA titles and counting) and Robert Horry (seven) were guests on my show. Their postseason success raises an interesting question: Shouldn't winning championships be a more essential criteria for the Hall of Fame? Maybe it's time to open a wing of the Hall for players who were consummate winners but didn't have gaudy stats. Horry knows he's not likely to get in any other way. "A lot of people look at the scoring aspect and don't look at other things like defense and winning," he said.
Mike Krzyzewski is no fan of the NBA's draft eligibility rules, which all but force high school stars to spend a year in college and have produced a parade of one-and-done top players. If kids are going to be required to go to college, Coach K said, they should have to stay at least two years: "A school can't be an extended-stay hotel."
Line of the week
Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon had interesting advice for LeBron James should he choose to leave Cleveland: Forget New York and join a big-market team that actually has some talent—the Clippers, with Eric Gordon and presumptive No. 1 pick Blake Griffin. "If you're going to be a star," Wilbon told me, "why not go to L.A.?"
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Ex--UCLA star Kevin Love talks about USC's troubled program.
2. Joe Buck discusses his new HBO show.
THE FINE PRINT: Tim Donaghy suffered a serious knee injury in prison. Sounds like somebody had the Cavs going all the way.