Mark Cuban has employed just three head coaches during his 15 years owning the Dallas Mavericks. The one who has been with him the longest is Rick Carlisle.
So, when Carlisle was informed that Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of Cuban’s purchase of the Mavs from Ross Perot Jr., he marked the occasion with glowing remarks about his boss.
“He’s made a huge mark on the game,” said Carlisle, the Mavs’ coach since 2008. “The Mavericks franchise has risen to the highest levels, and Mark’s had a great impact on so many areas of the NBA in so many positive ways that he’s really helped the game grow.
“Personally, when you get an opportunity to come and work for a guy like him, you learn an awful lot. He’s been a great mentor to me, and I’m very grateful. Fifteen years has gone by fast. I’m sure the next 15 will go even faster.”
Shawn Marion, who had played for the Mavs for five years before signing a free-agent contract with Cleveland this past summer, liked the way Cuban’s personality seems to rub off on those around him.
“He’s a fan first, an owner second,” Marion said. “I think he lets everybody really know that adamantly.
“If you don’t know he’s a fan first, then you don’t know Mark Cuban. He bleeds that blue and white.”
Carlisle pointed out that the way the NBA grades its referees today stems primarily from Cuban’s input.
“A lot of the process is there in place for accountability for officiating, and he’s had a great influence on the recruiting program for officials, too,” Carlisle said. “The NBA is much more aggressive in recruiting high-level prospects to come into the NBA.
“You’ve got a great artistic game, but it has to be refereed in a scientific way. So we need to have the very best officials, and Mark’s done a lot to bring up the quality of our officiating and the quality of our recruiting of top level young officials.”
Cuban’s also done a lot to increase the level of play of the Mavs, who won an NBA title under his ownership in 2011 after being one of the worst franchises in all of pro sports in the 1990s.
Carlisle praises Marion
Before Sunday’s game against Cleveland, Carlisle spoke of the adulation he has for Marion.
“This is just a remarkable player and really and truly one of the most underrated players in the history of the game,” Carlisle said. “If you look at his stats and what he’s done in all these different places, he’s been a total winner.
“He’s top-five in almost every statistical category with Phoenix, he helped us win a championship and here [in Cleveland] he’s been asked to play two or three positions. He’ll go down as one of the all-time great Mavs because of what he did for us for five years and particularly in 2011 when we won it.”
Marion, who is building his dream home in Dallas, was one of the leaders in the locker room and on defense when the Mavs captured the 2011 championship.
“We accomplished a great thing,” Marion said. “We won a championship.
“That’s a lot of things a lot of players will never do in their career, and we were able to do it there, and it was awesome.”
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760