Posted Jun 4 2011 9:32AM
DALLAS -- Maybe you missed it on the news. Lindsay Lohan joined the monastery. Sarah Palin voluntarily took the Mensa exam ... and aced it! The big-hearted barons who control the world's oil just decided to sharply reduce profit margins that are so inflated, Kim Kardashian's jeans are jealous. Oh, and we're not sure how this escaped anyone, but the Dow at closing rose like a Death Valley summer.
Well, OK. None of that really happened. Just this: Mark Cuban has up and gone underground. Strange but true.
If you want a loud, loquacious, opinionated, cage-rattling, authority-tweaking Cuban, you best dig up some footage of Fidel from 1959. As for the owner of the Mavericks, he isn't saying anything. And that's saying something. His team is in the NBA Finals, coming home for three games after sucking the siesta out of Miami, and The First Fan Of Dallas sure is picking a strange time to keep his thoughts to himself.
His only public utterance was in the aftermath of the Western Conference title conquest, when Cuban, wearing a championship cap turned backward, bellowed: "We're not done yet!"
And yet, he's done talking.
Hello out there, Mark Cuban! The Finals have begun! Your team, your life's passion, is three wins from getting a bear-hug from America for beating the Heat! What say you? What write you? What blog you?
Nothing. Nary a tweet or a peep. He has stopped communicating. At this point, we stand a better chance of hearing from Erick Dampier than Cuban in this series.
Cuban waved off a chance to issue a State of the Cuban Address prior to Game 2. He said, extremely politely, "I'd rather not" and mentioned something about wanting to leave the spotlight on the teams. All he offered me, a fellow Pittsburgher, was a handshake and a smile that told me to move on. No joy for a homeboy.
Cuban isn't discriminating, though. He's stiffing everyone, politely, of course. Even himself. He hasn't posted on "Blog Maverick," his personal cyber-blackboard, since April 12. Before the playoffs. And he hasn't spoken much, on the record anyway, to reporters ever since. This from an owner who rarely refuses a chance to promote the Mavericks, his pride and joy, his ticket to celebrity.
Well, I guess we can wait until the championship-clinching ceremony, if it happens for Dallas, because it would be worth it. There would be no cooler sight than Cuban accepting the trophy from David Stern, of all people. That wouldn't be Al Davis grabbing the Super Bowl trophy from Pete Rozelle, but the closest thing to it.
And try to picture Cuban's immediate reaction at the buzzer should the Mavericks wrap this thing up. Would it be Tom Cruise again on Oprah's couch? A Jim Valvano zig-zag through the chaos? A blood-curdling scream that's so piercing and high, only referees can hear?
No matter what you may think of Cuban -- and count me among his admirers -- you can't deny that he's been good for basketball. Just like The Big Three of Miami has been good for basketball. Anything and anyone who gets people talking basketball and noticing basketball is good for basketball. There really is no debate about the owner in Dallas, where Cuban is approaching Jerry Jones for biggest Hoss. He can't go wrong in this town, mainly because the Mavericks were the Cavaliers (post-LeBron) before he bought them.
His legendary energy has been his strength and weakness, as you know. Emotion has often gotten the best of Cuban, costing him thousands of dollars in fines and also any chance of getting a kiss from Kenyon Martin's lips tattoo. A billionaire, he also turned cheap at the wrong time, when he refused to fork over $60 million for Steve Nash, who went to Phoenix and won some MVPs. And yet: Whether he's been right or wrong, his heart has always been in the right place. Those who follow Cuban say he's mellower since the birth of his children, but he's still a constant presence around the Mavericks, either at home or on the road, always there to supply whatever coaches and players need.
In a sense, this is his job: Loving the Mavericks.
And perhaps because he loves the Mavericks, he's decided to shut his yap and close his keyboard. Maybe he'd rather leave enough alone, considering the Mavericks are on a roll, sweeping aside the Lakers and brushing off the tumbleweeds from Oklahoma City and now drawing even with the Heat.
The Mavericks are in the Finals for the second time on Cuban's watch, and the first foray didn't go so smoothly after Dallas went up 2-0. Dwyane Wade got the benefit of some calls in the final few games of that series and the Heat won. Cuban showed remarkable restraint and didn't go all Mel Gibson on the officiating.
But he has decided to go Garbo on us, and maybe just as well. We'd rather him hold it all in, and then release it suddenly and explosively in the event of a Dallas championship. There would be Cuban fragments spread from here to, well, Cuba.
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