My Encounter With the Most Interesting Owner in Sports - 05/24/14
I found out less than 24-hours before I was supposed to interview him. And truth be told, I was a little nervous. Mark Cuban has a larger than life persona. Cuban isn't just the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, he's also on Sharktank and taken a shot at Dancing With The Stars. He seems like someone who's willing to answer anything. Honestly. That's certainly caused him plenty of problems over the years (as it turns out, it did before I talked to him). But for someone in the media like myself, he's a dream. Or so I thought.
I was told to be at the Omni by 2:15 and I could grab him for a few minutes before he had other interviews and engagements. So I got there at 2, set up my camera, and waited.
First, he couldn't do it because he had to do a scheduled interview. Alright. No big deal. Then he couldn't do it because he had to prepare for his speech with the CEO of INC. The company that brought him in to Music City. And maybe I can grab him real quick after that. Ok. Cool.
But it didn't happen.
Then I was promised I could talk to him after the INC. obligation. Sounds good. By this point, I'd been waiting for nearly 3-hours. But that's ok. It's Mark Cuban. Mark Cuban! He's busy and has a lot on his plate. My patience was beginning to wear pretty thin though.
It got even thinner when I was told to go to yet another location and set up. He'd be there in 15-minutes.
I was all set to go when Cuban and his handlers breezed by me, on to their next appearance. At this point, I'd had enough. And I let the PR person know it. He apologized, and said the elusive owner would be available after THIS obligation. In 30-minutes.
Then, it happened.
After waiting for 4-hours, Mark Cuban walked up to me, shook my hand, and the interview began.
He's tall, with a large frame. Not what I would call overweight. I would describe him as a "big guy". Not physically imposing at all, which surprised me a little. Generally people of his stature, both physically and otherwise, like to use that to their advantage. Not Cuban.
And he certainly didn't intimidate me or anyone else with his wardrobe. I gray short-sleeved polo shirt and jeans. If it wasn't Mark Cuban, you almost get the feeling that he might have been asked to leave the premises.
The first couple of questions were what we in the media call "softballs." I asked what brought him to Music City, hoping to break the ice a bit. After all, he doesn't know me. I don't want to make him mad or cause a problem right out of the gate. I'm trying to get his thoughts on as many questions and topics as I can.
From there, I ask about what he thinks Nashville as a potential home for an NBA team. Cuban loves the idea, but doesn't know if there's enough talent to support another team. Makes sense to me.
Next, I ask about one of his players. Brandon Wright is a Brentwood Academy grad who's played for the Mavericks the last three seasons. His face lights up when talking about the 6-9 forward. Cuban refers to Wright as "The Helicopter", loves what he does and his future with the team.
After a getting his thoughts on this year's playoffs, (He hopes the Spurs win it all, then Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all retire) it's time to get down to it.
The four-letter word in NBA circles these days. I try to come across in as non-threatening a way as possible.
"I've got to ask you about the Donald Sterling situation. There's a new development nearly every day. What are your thoughts on where it's headed and where it's going?"
The most controversial owner in sports isn't fazed at all. He answers the question with a lengthy, well-thought out response. That's no surprise. I'm sure he's been asked this only about a thousand times in the last few weeks.
But I decide to press him a bit on it.
"Is it frustrating that this may get drawn out and might go through a lot of legal circles before getting resolved?"
He doesn't miss a beat. Calmly describing that his frustration lies in the fact that it has taken away from what has been a great playoffs. And that no one wants to go through what the NBA is going through right now. But if there's something good to come from it, it's that no one is bigger than the game.
I couldn't agree more.
I get the "last question" from the PR guy. So I end it with this, "You've made overtures at owning another team. Do you still hope to own another pro sports team someday, or are you done?"
His response was awesome. "I'm done. I am so done. I'm beyond done. When I looked into the Cubs and other team, that was before I had kids." After laughing, he added, "Now I'm having too much fun with my family."
I told him as a sports fan, I thought that was too bad because he's a great owner. And I really believe he is.
Cuban then shook my hand, told me he appreciated it, and walked off. He's the first billionaire I've ever shaken hands with, by the way.
So four and a half hours after arriving to interview Mark Cuban, I got my man. Five minutes and 37-seconds worth, from beginning to end. It's the longest I've ever waited to talk to someone. And I can honestly say, it was worth it.