Mark Cuban does the unexpected
Reporters across the country are shocked. They are sad. Their go-to quote, loquacious Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, has not granted an interview in five weeks.
Fans across the country are surprisingly uninformed. They are helpless. No one knows what Cuban thinks of officiating in the postseason. Or of Dirk Nowitzki's star-quality play in these NBA playoffs. Or what he thinks of his Mavericks playing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
"Not doing any intvws," he typed in response to an email inquiry last week, using e-shorthand for the word interviews. "Thx. m"
Then again, why is it any surprise?
Why is anything Cuban does a surprise anymore? By now, we should expect the unexpected from perhaps the most vocal, controversial, one-of-a-kind owner the NBA has had.
He has been fined about $1,665,000 for 13 incidents in his 11-year reign as Mavericks owner. He has served Blizzards at Dairy Queen, he has rushed the court in an attempt to break up a fight. He has charted referee calls to learn who is most anti-Mavericks and been outspoken about every issue the NBA has encountered.
Why is it any surprise that when we want to hear from him most -- as his Mavs are in the Finals for the first time since 2006 and only the second time since he's owned them -- he is silent?
"This might sound silly, but maybe as an owner you learn from experience, as well," ABC announcer Mike Breen hypothesized.
The first time the Mavericks appeared in the NBA Finals, also against the Heat, Cuban was fined $250,000 for his on-court actions and angry postgame comments where he questioned a call by referee Bennett Salvatore with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime and wondered aloud how Dwyane Wade's 25 free throws matched the Dallas team total.
Cuban is the Mavericks' biggest fan and he has the largest platform for expressing his thoughts, but he's keeping those thoughts to himself now, whether out of superstition that everything has gone well while he's been quiet or because he doesn't want to be a distraction.
"I think the difference between a younger Mark Cuban and an older Mark Cuban is he realizes that there are things that you should and shouldn't say," NBA analyst Mark Jackson said. "It could motivate another team. And I think he's certainly matured and he's done the right things. But the thing you love about him is his passion about putting this team in position to win."
Part of putting his team in position to win is making bold moves. He re-signed 38-year-old Jason Kidd to lead the Mavericks at point guard when others thought he was too old. He traded for Tyson Chandler to solidify the interior defense. He relied heavily upon Nowitzki and believed in his leadership ability when others called him soft.
And he hired the mercurial Rick Carlisle to lead the team and blend all the talent.
ESPN's Jack Ramsay did talk to Cuban after the Mavs dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder -- an informal, off-the-record conversation, of course -- and commented to the owner that Carlisle has coached well during the playoffs.
"Rick has outcoached everyone he's faced in the playoffs so far," Cuban told Ramsay.
But to the rest of us, Cuban has been quiet.
There have been no detailed analyses of referee tendencies.
No rants, no fines.
"Like all of us, he has great humility and respect for the position we're in right now," Carlisle told reporters. "We're all doing everything we can to put ourselves in the best possible position to do well."
Really, when it comes to Cuban, why is anything a surprise at all?