PHILADELPHIA -- Mark Cuban can relate to what the Philadelphia 76ers is experiencing.
When Cuban purchased the Dallas Mavericks from Ross Perot Jr. on Jan. 4, 2000, going to a Mavs games was akin to walking around in a cemetery. As Mavs losses piled up, not many really wanted to be seen in such morbid surroundings.
"I knew when I took over the Mavs and no one wanted to go to the games, I’m really, really curious to see what the (Sixers) game presentation is like because when you don’t have the product on the court that you want, in my opinion you’ve got to go over the top in game presentation,’’ Cuban said prior to Saturday’s 110-103 win over the Sixers. "I remember we would bring in KC and The Sunshine Band to play (after Mavs games), and Earth, Wind and Fire came -- every old funk band.
"You had to come (to the Mavs’ game) before halftime in order to be able to be (at the concert), so you actually had to come to the game. You couldn’t just show up for the concert.’’
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Those were the tricks of the trade Cuban used during his early ownership days to lure fans to Mavs games. He believes those are some lessons a franchise like the Sixers, who are 0-16, should emulate.
"Even to this day we try to do things that create a lot of value for fans,’’ Cuban said. "I would be willing to guess we spend more on game presentation than all professional sports teams combined, money-wise.
"All the video. We spend $1 million a year in game presentation stuff.’’
Even NBA referees have marveled at all the activity that goes on between timeouts during a Mavs home game. Cuban believes that activity is just as crucial as the players on the court.
"You never know when you’re going to win or lose, but I want everybody to have a good time, and when there’s energy in the building it helps us,’’ Cuban said. "That’s the one thing that makes coming to a game different than going to a movie or staying home and watching it.
"You can’t stay home and watch the game and feel the energy. When you walk into (American Airlines Center) you feel energy – that’s what’s different.’’
Cuban even brought national attention to his franchise when he signed 38-year old Dennis Rodman – although he was way past his prime – to a contract on Jan. 25, 2000. Rodman’s first Mavs game brought so much excitement to the Mavs and saw, among others, Deion Sanders sitting courtside mere hours after his wife gave birth to a son.
Indeed, making Mavs game a hip place to be was all part of Cuban’s master plan. He believes the Sixers should incorporate a similar plan.
It’s a plan that has seen the Mavs sell out every regular season game since Dec. 15, 2001 and has covered 523 straight games. It’s currently the longest active sellout streak in professional sports.
"You want to know that you feel something special,’’ Cuban said. "And then after the energy you want to be able to look up at the screen and get goose bumps or laugh or smile and feel like you’re getting entertained.
"Or if you bring your kids, they feel like they’re getting entertained. So to me that’s important.’’