HOUSTON — Just so you know, if LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony become free agents and don’t pick Dallas as their new home, they’ll also be error-prone idiots.
“I can’t talk about anyone specifically,” said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “I’ll get fined. So any potential free agent is an idiot if they consider the Mavs and don’t come.”
Speaking to a handful of reporters about an hour before Friday night’s game at the Toyota Center, the Mavericks loquacious and opinionated boss was following up on his statement a day earlier when he said Rockets center Dwight Howard made a mistake by choosing Houston over Dallas in free agency.
Cuban and Howard had a brief conversation when they happened to cross paths in a back hallway prior to the game.
“When he stops, it wasn’t tough to figure out,” Cuban said. “He’s saying, ‘What’s going on?’
“He was fine. It was nice. I said I wasn’t picking on him. It’s common sense. I think anybody who doesn’t come to the Mavs is making a mistake, an error in judgment.
“I used stronger words, but I told Dwight ‘Anybody that doesn’t come here is an idiot.’ And if I didn’t say that, I’d be an idiot, because that’s reality, you know. Whether you’re buying a product from one of my companies or making a deal versus somebody else on Shark Tank, if I don’t have the confidence in our product to think you make a mistake if you don’t do business with me, then it’s on me.
“I don’t know if he understood, but that’s the reality. If you’re a free agent and you picked somebody else, you made an error in judgment. And if you’re a lot younger than me, then you’re a kid.’
“Like I said, I like Dwight. It’s not like I don’t like the guy. We get along.”
Having recently been cleared of insider-trading charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cuban said he’s just happy to be back stirring up headlines in the fantasy world of sports.
“I always like to have people to mess with,” Cuban said. “You’ve got to throw out a few jabs every now and then to have fun. Wins and losses are serious, but this is still fun and if you guys (media) don’t like it, that’s your problem…It’s great fodder. I’m not gonna stop having fun.
“There’s things you don’t say, because you know what’s gonna happen. And there’s things there’s no reason to hold your tongue because you know exactly what’s going to happen and it makes it even more entertaining that the stupidest little things become headline porn.”
You can criticize Cuban for being over the top or wrong with some of his opinions and off the cuff remarks. But you cannot say that he doesn’t know how to enjoy his high profile role and doesn’t add spice to the NBA, if only to keep himself amused. Through the years, he’s waged verbal wars with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson of the Lakers, not to mention infuriating the entire city of San Antonio for insulting the beloved River Walk.
“The back and forth is the best,” Cuban said. “Especially Shaq was good and Phil Jackson was great, because he’s smart. When you get somebody like that who’s witty, it’s a challenge, it’s fun. Whether it’s Phil Jackson every now and then or Pat Riley a few times, that’s the kind of public battles that are fun.”
Is Howard a worthy verbal sparring partner?
“I don’t know,” Cuban said. “You’d have to ask him. I’m not going after that one.”
The truth is, Cuban wishes that a few more NBA owners would get engaged the way he does, heckling opponents from their court side seats and standing up publicly for their teams.
“Yeah, it would make the game more entertaining,” he said. “It really would. At the end of the day, people don’t come to be serious about sports. We take our sports seriously and it’s emotional. But we come to have fun. It’s entertainment. Does anybody remember the score of our exhibition game when we played (the Rockets)? Anybody remember the score of any of our games last year?”
He cackles. He giggles. He rarely ducks a question and always has an opinion on any issue, especially the Mavs, whom he’ll never miss an opportunity to promote. Even at the expense of a high-profile opponent.
Remember that player who made “The Decision” to take his talents to South Beach in 2010 and has since won two championships when he could have jumped to Dallas?
“You know, what can I say? It was still a horrible mistake,” said a grinning Cuban. “I can’t talk about free agents. So whoever you’re referring to, he could have had three (championships).”