In exactly one year, Mark Cuban has gone from NBA outsider to outlaw.
Cuban’s transformation was clinched Thursday when the NBA fined him $250,000 on the first anniversary of his purchase of the Dallas Mavericks.
Cuban was punished for complaining about officials not calling a possible goaltending violation in the final minute of Dallas’ 107-104 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night.
History of Fines
The league fined Cuban $45,000 for three similar incidents in an eight-day span in November. This fine was 10 times the amount of his last penalty and more than noted bad boy Dennis Rodman was fined in his entire career.
Cuban’s total tab of $295,000 in fines comes out to more than $800 for every day he’s owned the team.
“I think it’s great,” Cuban said. “There is no way we could spend $250,000 to get this type of promotion for the Mavs.
“The articles will be mostly the same: ‘Mark Cuban was fined again, crazy guy, but the Mavs are playing well and are in the playoff hunt.’ And tons of people will buy Mavs merchandise and more will come to the games — just like the last time I was fined.”
Cuban said he won’t appeal. He also hinted that he might not stop.
“I haven’t received a negative e-mail yet from fans, and that is what matters most,” Cuban said.
Cuban has matched each of his league fines with a contribution to charity. This time, his money is going to fight cancer.
Don Nelson, the Mavericks’ coach and general manager, underwent successful surgery Thursday to remove his cancerous prostate.
Play in Question
The source of Cuban’s latest scrape was a non-call on a missed shot by Dallas’ Steve Nash that would have tied the game at 106. A replay showed that a Detroit player’s hand touched the rim with the ball in the air.
Cuban had the replay frozen on the JumboTron and brought together photographers to take pictures of it. The photo was posted on a Mavs-related Internet site.
“The refs were pitiful, and I don’t care if I get fined,” Cuban said at the time. “We’re going to find out what the rules are and protest the game.”
He also accused official Tommy Nunez of trying “to take over the game.”
“If a guy can’t look at a replay and see it was goaltending, that’s ridiculous,” he said.
Team captain Michael Finley said officials told him goaltending was not called because the shot had no chance of going in.
About 1½ hours after the NBA announced the fine, the Mavericks followed through on Cuban’s plan to protest the non-call.
Unconventional Local Celebrity
Cuban went from season-ticket holder to owner on Jan. 4, 2000, when he agreed to buy the team from Ross Perot Jr. He was approved several months later although some owners were wary of his involvement, which includes working out with the team and traveling with them.
Cuban has lavished players with electronics-filled lockers, ultra-soft towels and even custom-made courtside chairs. He’s redesigned the team’s logo and thrown in the maximum $3 million to complete trades.
His most radical move was signing Rodman and letting him live in the guest house of the owner’s home. The league nixed that arrangement, and Rodman was released after 29 days, two ejections, one suspension and $13,500 in fines.
His energy and enthusiasm have helped revive one of the league’s most dreadful teams and made him a local celebrity.
He’s further endeared himself to fans by absorbing all service charges and handling fees on tickets, and by buying tickets for any fans who travel to road games and paint their faces with the team’s colors.