The Dallas Mavericks beat the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 99-91 last night without the help of Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, and team owner Mark Cuban is already strutting with arrogance. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com, the outspoken Cuban was asked his opinion of the new-look Lakers during the game and his answer was...well, interesting.
"I don't know, I don't care, I just hope they suck," said the volatile owner. "You know, like any other team."
These types of comments are nothing new from Cuban, who is no stranger to confrontation. Still, his comments will ultimately hurt the Mavericks. The team may be only two years removed from their first NBA championship, but they are still a long way away from being a top contender in the Western Conference.
Now, before we go any further, let me just say that I'm not trying to take away anything from the Dallas Mavericks at all. In fact, nobody was happier for them last night than I was. They stared adversity right in the face and made one of the most dangerous starting lineups in the league look foolish. Still, it's just one game and not at all indicative of how the team will perform during the regular season.
Look at it this way. Of the Mavs' championship team, only three players remain: Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Rodrigue Beaubois. The rest of the roster is all players experiencing their first year in Dallas and still adjusting to the hardcore borderline fanboy culture Cuban has established since buying the team in 2000. The worst of it is that the key players he and GM Donnie Nelson brought in do not have the consistency required for Dallas to succeed significantly.
Kaman can play a decent center, but is oft-injured and of no value when he isn't healthy. The same can be said for Elton Brand, who hasn't been the same since his days with the Clippers. O.J. Mayo will play a decent shooting guard, but won't help the team with his complete lack of shot selection awareness.
All roster issues aside, however, Cuban's comments about the Lakers will ultimately backfire because after reading about his words, Kobe Bryant & Company are sure to play with a fire lit under them all the other times they face Dallas this season. In fact, both teams play each other three more times and once the Lakers start coming together, they're going to remember these comments when they make the trip to Dallas on November 24.
At that point, the Mavs are expected to be about two weeks away from getting Nowitzki back. Thus, they had better hope that Kaman is healthy because the Lakers are going to come in ready to play.
What better satisfaction would there be for Bryant and his teammates than to silence Cuban's team in front of him, and on his home court no less?
Simply put, while it's great that Cuban is passionate about his team, he needs a lesson as to when he should and shouldn't run his mouth. Last night's victory, though incredible, was just one game and not indicative of how good or bad either team is. Seeing as how the Lakers have experience on their side, the man could soon be eating his words.