DALLAS (105.3 THE FAN) — Billionaire Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a well documented past with NBA commissioner David Stern.
Cuban has gifted more than $1.9 million in fines to the league in more than 20 disputes under Stern’s watch, most resulting from Cuban’s repeated criticism of NBA officiating.
But the Mavs owner has one more gift for the retiring Stern, who is set to step down on Saturday, Feb. 1 — exactly 30 years after taking the job.
“I gave it to him. If he wants to talk about it, he can,” said Cuban prior to Wednesday’s home game against Houston.
Cuban wouldn’t reveal what the gift was, but called it an inexpensive, “sentimental” gift that is certainly “memorable”.
While the verbal spats and fines are all the public sees, don’t assume the gift was a final parting shot at his ‘rival’ Stern.
After all, Cuban admits that the perception of their near 15-year relationship is all wrong.
“People think I don’t get along with David [Stern]. I like David a lot,” said Cuban. “I get along with him great. We agree on 90 percent of business. The only thing we really had vehement disagreements on was officiating.”
Cuban went on to praise Stern’s efforts since taking over a struggling league in 1984.
“We were a second rate league that didn’t have its finals on TV. Now we’re the second most popular sport in the world. That’s all because of him.”
Cuban believes that deputy commissioner Adam Silver, who is set to replace Stern on Saturday, is a smart businessman who is more than capable of guiding the NBA towards a promising future.
While the Mavs’ owner has only had limited conversations with Silver about the state of NBA officiating, he believes the incoming commissioner has a firm understanding of the league’s true issue.
“I’ve said it before. The NBA is one of the professional sports where studies have shown that people honestly believe it’s fixed,” said Cuban.
“If you can reduce the percentage of people who honestly think it’s fixed, more people will watch on television. That will lead to higher ratings, and that will lead to more money in our next TV deal. I think this is a business issue, and David never looked at it that way.”
Silver has been an employee of the David Stern-led NBA since 1992. So what if he continues to adopt the same principles that Stern has fought so hard to protect.
“If nothing changes, then I’ll be right where I was.”
Screaming at officials. Calling for change. And inevitably making donations — or gifts — to the new commissioner.
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