Can anybody really blame Mark Cuban, or anyone else for that matter, in relishing the fact that the Miami Heat and their Big Three are off to a slow start?
As I write this, the Heat are 6-4. A team many believed heading into the season was the favorite to win the NBA Championship — and many still probably do — is just the fifth-best team in the Eastern Conference. C’mon, that’s pretty entertaining.
It’s also, as the following interview shows, pretty entertaining for Mark Cuban, whose Dallas Mavericks have just as many victories and two fewer losses than the Heat thus far. And the Mavs are 6-2 with a bit of a makeshift roster that includes a pair of players — Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson — that came to the NBA from high school about a decade ago but were given up on by many other teams.
Mark Cuban joined ESPN Radio Dallas with Ben and Skin to discuss his team’s chemistry, why we’ve seen the Mavs dunk more this season, the big win over the Boston Celtics, changing the in-game culture at venues, Colin Cowherd’s argument against European players, Miami’s tough start to the season and whether he believes Pacquiao/Mayweather will ever happen.
On the chemistry of the Mavericks:
“Everybody gets along really well. Chemistry manifests itself in different ways. There are guys who are bad guys who just don’t care about anything. Then there are guys who, from time to time, get disappointed about playing time. That’s really not a chemistry issue. That’s almost a good thing, because you want guys who want to play. It’s the guys that don’t care and don’t play and go mess around that create the chemistry issues.”
On why the Mavericks are dunking more:
“One of the problems that the Mavs have had is teams have figured out to overplay us aggressively. They’ll front us, they’ll three-quarter us so that it’s harder to make an entry pass and we never back-door them. One of the things Coach Carlisle has been adamant about is crisp cuts and making the smart basketball cuts. … You’ve started to see a lot more of that.”
On how big it was to beat the Celtics:
“You know, it’s the beginning of the season, but it set a good tone. I think it was more because it was at home against a good team more than anything else. We still can’t figure out why we’re struggling at home. But yeah, it was big. It was big because we held them scoreless the last seven possessions and came from six down. We still have some challenges. I think we’ve been up 10-plus points in every game this year and lost two of them, so we still have some challenges there.”
On changing the in-game culture at stadiums and what he might have done if he had taken over the Texas Rangers:
“You’ve got to entertain. The one thing that I learned very quickly and that I remember from my experiences growing up, you don’t remember the score of games. You remember the first game that you ever went to that your dad or your mom took you to, you remember the first date you went on going to a game, you remember the stories you have with your buddies when you went to a game. You don’t remember the jump shots, the home runs, the dunks, the touchdowns, you don’t remember that stuff. You remember the experience. The only thing that I could compare it to was a wedding. The weddings [are], remember the time that Aunt Susie was just trashed out of her mind and can you believe that so-and-so was hanging with such-and-such. Those are the things that you remember. So when I got [with the Mavericks], I was like, ‘OK, we want this to be like a good wedding.’ We want every song to be one you can dance to. … Every venue’s different, so what you would do with the Rangers because it’s the ballpark and they don’t have a great videoboard available, you do things differently. … The Rangers know they’re going to have to put up a new board out there and they will and how they do entertainment, we’ll see.”
On Colin Cowherd’s argument against European players:
“It comes from not paying attention. I like Colin, he’s a good guy and everything, but that doesn’t mean he knows everything, and he certainly isn’t watching a lot of games. He must have missed [Manu] Ginobili fouling Dirk when Dirk was taking it to the basket to tie a game that we won in overtime to take us to the Finals. He must have missed Dirk’s 50 points. … They’re not paying attention to that stuff. They’re working off stereotypes that have no meaning any longer. You don’t play as many years, as many games, as Dirk has played without having an incredible level of toughness and intensity. … Some people, their foot’s up your ass and you don’t even know it and that’s Dirk. Kevin Garnett will tell you his foot’s up your ass but he’s walking away.”
On the slow start for the Miami Heat:
“Hallelujah, boys, is that great or what? … How cool is that? Now, they could still turn it around and win out for all that matters, but you’re starting to see some of the problems. Any team with a strong, big guy that can score, they’re getting abused by. Paul Millsap goes out and pulls a Tracy McGrady. What, Tracy McGrady scored 13 and 30 and Paul Millsap scores 11 in 29 seconds or something like that? They just don’t have size to battle. They have the fewest points in the paint of any team and that’s tough. … My buddy Dan Gilbert is smiling all the way, too. Again, it’s early in the season and you never quite know how it’s going to play out, but how glorious.”
On whether he believes Pacquaio/Mayweather will happen:
“You know, Floyd’s Mr. Money, he’s Money Mayweather, so if the money’s there, he’ll make it happen somehow.”