Originally created 11/05/06

Cuban now a 'Stern disciple'

DALLAS - Mark Cuban is ready to do whatever David Stern wants. Really. Honestly.

He promises. A lot.

Stay away from huddles? No problem.

Support overseas expansion instead of building the product in the United States? Done.

Stop coming up with innovations such as the multisided 24-second clock and hiring independent shot-clock operators in the playoffs? He's already excited about the extra free time he'll have.

"I'm reborn," the owner of the Dallas Mavericks said Thursday night during his usual pregame workout. "It's no longer Mark Cuban, the benefactor. It's Mark Cuban, David Stern disciple. And I say that with all seriousness. ...

"I used to spend a lot of time trying to really learn the details and the numbers, doing a lot of research, because I was cynical and skeptical. I've lost all that cynicism and skepticism. It's all gone. Sarcasm? There's no sarcasm."

Cuban spoke for nearly 30 minutes before Dallas' 97-91 loss to San Antonio in the season opener, explaining how eager he is to comply with Stern's new guidelines for team owners.

The more he talked, the less sincere he seemed.

"Now I have new aspirations beyond winning the title in the NBA, and that's to fit in and be like everybody else," Cuban said. "They're smarter, they're better, they're prettier, in better shape, they have nicer teeth."

The latest round of the Cuban-Stern saga started when Cuban learned of Stern's plan to impose a list of dos and don'ts for owners. It's already being calling the Cuban Rule.

After a meeting he intentionally avoided, Cuban said the league sent an e-mail saying "noncoaches or personnel are not allowed in the huddle or in the proximity of the huddles."

It did not specifically say owners, nor was he used as an example. Still, there's no doubt he was the target.

Cuban vows following orders will be easy.

"I'll just keep a little diary," he said. "If I get that old urge to yell at the officials, I'll just write it in the diary at the end of the night, just purge all that anxiety because I know that they'll fix it. Everybody's human, everybody makes mistakes. But they'll fix it. They're that good."

Cuban noted his huddle time led to the hiring of Avery Johnson as Dallas' coach. Johnson went from Mavs player to assistant coach to the NBA's coach of the year last season, his first full one in charge, when he also got Dallas to the Finals for the first time.

"It's just one of those accidental benefits," Cuban said. "The law of unintended consequences, I guess."

Cuban said he sent Stern an e-mail about it all. He's yet to receive a reply.

"He doesn't have to," Cuban said. "I just know. We've got that bond now."

In the past week, Cuban has released a study by physics professors showing problems with the league's new synthetic balls, revealed that plans for a satellite radio show were squashed by NBA people who didn't want him to have such a format and had publicized the threat of a $6 million lawsuit by former Mavs coach Don Nelson over money promised by the team's previous owners.


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