Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a newfound respect for Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.
Cuban used to have disdain for Wade after Miami came from two games down in a best-of-seven series to beat the Mavs in six games in the 2006 NBA Finals. That no longer is the case.
“At the beginning I [had disdain] because I think he thought he was entitled to everything that happened in that series,’’ Cuban said before Sunday’s Mavs-Heat game at American Airlines Center. “I like D-Wade now.
“He’s a guy that does a lot of good things off the court. I have to respect that — having been around the game so long.’’
Wade was 75 of 97 from the free throw line in the 2006 Finals. That includes 21 of 25 in Game 5 — the same totals as the entire Mavs team in that game — and 16 of 21 from the charity stripe in Game 6.
Cuban cited an uncomfortable moment when he and Wade were in the same room with some other players in 2009 while preparing for a commercial shoot.
“There was a time when I did a commercial ... for ESPN ... and [Wade] was there and he walked out of the room so I wouldn’t see him,’’ Cuban said. “And I walked out a different door, so I wouldn’t have to talk to him.
“Off the court he’s gone from flash to all of a sudden he’s a good representative of the NBA, so I respect that. He seems to be about family and community. He went through some off-the-court hardships, I guess.’’
Cuban has also grown to like Wade’s former Heat sidekick, LeBron James.
“LeBron is as matured as a spokesperson for the league and as an individual as much as anybody I’ve seen in the NBA since ‘The Decision’ went down [in 2010],’’ Cuban said. “ I think [Wade] and LeBron helped each other grow up.’’
In the wake of the Dallas Cowboys’ 31-17 victory over Jacksonville on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 83,603 in London, Cuban said it would be “kind of a desperation move’’ if the NBA tried to put a permanent team overseas.
“I’m a rugby guy and have been a rugby guy forever,’’ Cuban said. “The [New Zealand] All Blacks [rugby team] came over and played in front of 65,000 people [in Chicago], and it’s nice.
“But it’s not going to all of sudden transform rugby in the United States.’’
In other words, Cuban doesn’t think a permanent fan base will be maintained overseas just because the NFL or NBA plays a few games abroad.
“We can go over there and play games and sell out arenas,’’ Cuban said. “But putting teams over there doesn’t really mean all of a sudden people are dying to see the team.
“The circus always sells out, the Harlem Globetrotters always sells out. Because you don’t see them that often.’’
It could be another game before the Mavs activate guard Raymond Felton.
“Raymond continues to make a lot of progress,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said Sunday. “We’re going to give it another day of practice and see where we are.’’
Felton has been out since suffering a right high ankle sprain during an Oct. 10 preseason game against Oklahoma City. Whenever the 10-year veteran is activated he’ll have to sit out four games because of a suspension handed down by the NBA when he pleaded guilty this year to a gun charge.