FRISCO -- Along with businessman Keith Fluellen, former Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons and Los Angeles Clippers forward Mark Aguirre has opened a successful cupcake company in Frisco named Dimples. While the cupcakes are rolling off the assembly line, Aguirre took some time to talk with the Star-Telegram about the messy NBA lockout and about the Mavericks winning their first NBA championship.
Federal mediator George Cohen, who helped broker a deal to end the MLB strike in 1995 and was on hand for portions of the recent NFL lockout negotiations, is now a mediator in the NBA negotiations. Is Cohen's presence good for the league? I was happy to see that because at this point they're going to dig into the loyalty of the fan base. Right now just talking to the everyday guys, they're not happy about what's going on -- if you're an NBA fan. It's digging into the fan base, which is going to affect the league for a while. So I think it's getting to a critical point right now.
The NBA said 22 of the 30 teams lost money last year. Because the owners legally don't have to open their books in regards to losses, do you believe that 22 teams lost money last year? I don't know. If 22 out of 30 teams are losing money, that's incredible to me. If there were 30 Walmart stores and 22 of them were losing money, there would be some stores closing down. But think about who owns the team. Some of [the owners] can afford to lose money. They might be losing money.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is one of the players who said the rank-and-file members have been saving their money for two years for this moment. What are your thoughts on such an unusual statement?Just to say that you've saved up, I understand what you're doing. But that doesn't solve the long-term problems and that doesn't give you enough security to say I can wait somebody out. I don't want to wait you out. I lose a year. I only have so many years to give in. The owners may lose a year, but how many years do they have? They've got until they sell [the team]. I wouldn't think of that as the right way to think about it.
Now that this lockout has been extended to nearly four months, is this a cautionary tale for the players to start paying close attention to the business side of basketball as much as they do to the on-court side of basketball? I hope it is a wake-up to the business side of basketball. When I personally look at what goes on in so far as the negotiating tables and who these teams hire in order to really, really negotiate for them, when you look at the NBA or you look at the NFL, these guys have been preparing for this [lockout] for forever. I would hope that the players will understand the preparations that the NBA owners took in light of seeing this moment coming, that they would start and make sure who they're hiring, and have a group that represents them well and keeps them alert of things that are going on and get them prepared for when it comes up. The owners, I can see their preparations and who they're hiring and what they're doing. And they're prepared. The owners are really prepared.
You started your career with the Mavs as the No. 1 overall pick in the entire NBA Draft in 1981. So, how happy was it for you to see them finally win an NBA championship this year? I know there was blood, sweat and tears that laid the foundation to make the Mavericks visible in the pro basketball world. When you look at the Tommy LaGardes, you look at the Scott Lloyds, you look at Abdul Jeelani for starters. Then you look at the next layer [of Mavs players], which was Rolando [Blackman], myself and Derek [Harper], and now we're solidified. Now it comes down to the time that when is the team going to break through [and win a title]? A lot of teams don't break through. But to have that happen, to be a part of that and to see that happen, it's kind of like, 'Oh Lord, that's great.' Think about it. There are a lot of teams that it hasn't happened to. A lot of teams don't have one [NBA title] and a lot of them have been in existence longer than the Mavericks. So believe me. Enjoy it.
The Mavericks won the NBA title, but less than three weeks later, the NBA became mired in a lockout that has lasted over 100 days. Has the lockout cast a cloud on what the Mavericks accomplished? Maybe on the outside, but in Dallas? Come on. It's going to be nice for a while. Until somebody else gets crowned, you're the NBA champs.
You still hold a lot of the Mavericks' records, and also were a three-time All-Star with this franchise. Don't you believe you deserve to have your jersey retired and hanging in the American Airlines Center rafters? I don't know what the holdout is and I'm never going to question it. That would be great. I don't have any control over that. None at all. But they treat me well. It hasn't disturbed any of our relationships [with Mavericks upper management], so I like that. Those people are nice to me down there.
TCU won the Rose Bowl, the Mavericks won the NBA title, and the Rangers are in the World Series for the second straight year. Is the D/FW area suddenly becoming Titletown? I look at it like this. If we're booming, all I want to do is enjoy it. I'm all over baseball. It's great to be in Dallas and be able to watch all that. When the Cowboys were winning, it was great to be in Dallas, so Dallas has always had sports teams that had been in contention. You had your light years in one sport, but you always had something to stand on, and that's great. There are some cities that they've got nothing. And it's been that way for a while."
The average player earns $5.1 million per year. The average fan can't relate to refusing to go to work with that kind of money laying on the table. Can you take us through that line of thinking from the players' perspective? The amazing thing is I don't think they can turn their back on it. But I think it's always blasted out about what the players make. You've never seen what the franchise makes. I'm not siding with the players or anything, but my concern is that we know they make an enormous amount of money to play basketball. And nobody is in business to lose money. So from the standpoint of what is the team making, would you rather the owners just pocket all the money? Or would you rather the money be distributed on a fair basis?