CLEVELAND – Michael Finley remembers the gimmick as if it happened yesterday.
It was very early in Mark Cuban’s tenure as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks when Cuban said Ed T. Rush – the NBA’s manager of referees – wasn’t fit to manage a Dairy Queen. Management from Dairy Queen wasn’t thrilled with Cuban’s comment and invited him to manage a Dairy Queen in Coppell.
Cuban accepted the invitation and the lines were very long as he stood and made – or tried to – make Blizzards for the adoring fans.
"He was Mark being Mark,’’ said Finley, who played for the Mavs from 1996-2005. "People ask me to kind of describe him in a nutshell.
"I just said just imagine you owning your favorite team, and the things that you would do that you always wanted to do. That’s the way he started off and that’s the way he’s doing it now.’’
Cuban purchased the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000. That’s 15 years from Sunday, when the Mavs (24-10) face the Cleveland Cavaliers (19-14) at noon at Quicken Loans Arena.
Cuban often spoiled his players with luxury lockers fit with their own personal TV, and other electronic gadgets. He also introduced them to those fancy ergonomic chairs on the sidelines.
During an ice storm on one home game day, Cuban even sent 15 limos to the 15 players’ homes just to make sure they got to and from the game safely. It was a move that was more about just protecting his assets.
Cuban wanted to also send a message that he was truly about the players and their pressing needs.
"He was just trying to make the organization a place of warmth for the players because he was coming into a situation where the organization was considered one of the worst in the league,’’ Finley said. "So he had to do whatever he had to do to make it a great place, and he started with the players.
"He started with getting them comfortable, making them to be proud to wear the Dallas logo on their chest on and off the court.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760