Mac Engel

Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki are happy, leaving the Mavs flat

Mark Cuban, at the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, has become a popular political pundit during the race for the White House.
Mark Cuban, at the third presidential debate in Las Vegas, has become a popular political pundit during the race for the White House. AP

As the NBA’s regular season tipped off Tuesday night on TNT, not too far down the dial was the owner and de facto GM of your Dallas Mavericks providing fresh political commentary on CNN.

Whenever that “sex-obsessed Megyn Kelly” is ready to sit down or Wolf Blitzer wants to retire, either of these hosts can be effectively replaced by none other than new renowned political pundit Mark Cuban.

We media scum are all enslaved to luring famous people to provide a sound bite or quote, so it’s no surprise that CNN grabbed Cuban to rip into GOP presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump.

Cuban has proved every bit as adept and shrewd as Trump in his ability to remain relevant with an outlandish statement or two, or 10.

Since purchasing the Mavs in 2000, Cubes has succeeded in making the Mavs relevant, thanks largely to Dirk Nowitzki, in a way the franchise had never previously sustained. In doing so, Cubes turned himself into a celebrity, too.

Sixteen years into their marriage, the Mavs’ happy couple — Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki — are comfortable and content. The team and the fans will suffer as a result.

It’s hard to get better when those at the top have everything they want and are not motivated to do much else other than to just enjoy their lives. These Mavs are competing for eighth seed in the Western Conference, and the two most powerful people in the organization are perfectly content with that reality.

On Tuesday night, NBA analyst Charles Barkley noted the reason why the season opener remains special: “You don’t know your team sucks until later in the season.”

Pretty sure those who follow the Mavs know the score before the team began the regular season on Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers in Indy.

According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the over/under on Mavs’ regular-season wins is 38.5. The last time the Mavs were that bad was 1999-2000, the first year Cuban’s reign.

Because of the stacked rosters in Golden State and Cleveland, this NBA regular season has a feeling of finality to it like no other in this century.

“They are clear favorites for a reason — they both stacked their rosters. That’s pro sports — you gotta live with it,” Mavs center Andrew Bogut said Tuesday after practice at the new Mavs’ facility in downtown Dallas. “Everywhere they go, the home team is going to be the underdog. So I guess when they lose a game it will be a championship game for them. The league is trying to figure that out — there is some disparity there. I don’t know if that will ever change. I don’t know how you fix it. You can’t fix it. There is no way to fix it.

“Don’t forget injuries and different things can happen along the way as well. I’m not wishing injury upon anybody, but stranger things have happened. We’ve seen stacked teams win, we’ve seen stacked teams lose. Obviously they are the two favorites, but looking at it I don’t see how the league can change it. If you have a suggestion, I’m all for it. I don’t understand how you can put a formula together and change it.”

Bogut is correct of course, but in the “old days” Cuban would have been at the forefront in raising hell about this, along with wretched NBA officiating, then NBA commissioner David Stern, all in an effort to improve the product of pro basketball.

Now he is 58, is good buddies with new commish Adam Silver and his Mavericks are worth an estimated $1.15 billion — ninth in the NBA, per Forbes. Losing playoff games can be quite lucrative, thank you.

These days Cuban is far more likely to hawk his TV show, Shark Tank, offer his thoughts on the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger, and rip into his reality TV nemesis — Trump — than worry about his basketball franchise.

As an NBA owner, Cuban is a fantastic sports talk show host — he is unafraid of his opinions. Who cares if they are not based on fact? These days, a famous person making bombastic statements qualifies as news.

The Mavs, meanwhile, reside in the middle of the NBA standings and no one in the organization can challenge Cuban’s roster rebuilding philosophy because they are all beholden to his wallet.

A former Mavs employee once told me: “Mark likes players and coaches.” In turn, they like his money.

His predictable misread of the NBA financial landscape and free agency after his toy won the title in 2011 has put his team in this position of stagnation. The team blows off the draft like no other in all of pro sports.

The only person who can challenge him — Dirk — is too nice to push his boss on personnel decisions that far too often in his career consistently failed to put quality pieces around him.

Dirk is now 38, and just wants to play some meaningful late-season games with a shot at the playoffs. By overpaying for Harrison Barnes and adding Bogut, Cuban has given Dirk another chance at the eighth seed in the West.

Earlier in his NBA career, Cuban would never have accepted this.

But he has a championship, his team is worth a fortune and he’s having a ball dating Fame. And now Mark Cuban is a great political commentator, too.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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