NBA All-Star Celebrity Game 2017

Cuban on being 46th president: 'Never say never' Staff

NEW ORLEANS — The country is three years away from the next election but a possible challenger for Donald Trump surfaced at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, of all places.

It was written on the back and front of the jersey worn by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and it said “46.” While Cuban is obviously having a blast being a billionaire owner of a sports franchise, and maybe the most famous one after Michael Jordan, a part of him couldn’t resist taking at president No. 45 and resuming their back-and-forth shots at each other through all forms of media.

Recently, Trump tweeted that Cuban “was too dumb to be president” and after laughing it off initially, Cuban came up with another plan while trying to choose a jersey number for the game.

“The numbers 24 and 25 were already gone,” he said, “and then I thought, 46, OK.”

Cuban laughed and added: “You gotta have some fun with all this. You can’t take yourself too seriously. Some people do.”

The Celebrity Game was and is never too seriously, for the most part, and such was the case at the Superdome, even without Kevin Hart. The thimble-sized comedian and four-time MVP winner skipped this year’s game, leaving it to Cuban and a host of mostly actors and rappers to do it alone. Cuban and the West team were socked 88-59 by the East.

The star was Brandon Armstrong, the social media impressionist who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, mainly by doing some of the player impressions that made him a viral sensation.

Armstrong became famous mimicking James Harden and Russell Westbrook and others, but he did play briefly with the Reno Bighorns of the NBDL and also spent time playing professionally overseas. Win Butler of Arcadia Fire added 22 points and 11 rebounds; he was last years MVP. There was also an Oscar Schmidt sighting; the now-59-year-old shooting legend and Hall of Famer from Brazil made one of his trademark jumpers from 19 feet.

Also, both teams engaged in the mannequin challenge just before the start of the second half and manage not to stumble.

But the headliner was Cuban and his jersey choice, which was a lot more outspoken than his playing time and inability to score a basket, partly because Cuban was victim of a few questionable calls (though no tech for Cuban, fortunately). He and Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry engaged in a few playful exchanges, with Cuban forcing a jump ball and then getting victimized by a Lasry three-point play.

“I showed up to play basketball,” Cuban said. “I just had too many guys on my team try to win the MVP.”

If it’s any consolation, at least Cuban became the first to run in 2020.

“He’s got a shot,” said Lasry. “I wish him the best of luck with it.”

And Cuban, on the idea of running for any political office in the future?

“Never say never.”