Mark Cuban is unlike any other owner in sports.
Eight years ago, I met Cuban at a local bar here in Hermosa Beach, California. After a night of beers, he came back to our rinky dink, smelly bachelor pad on the beach, and hung out with myself, and my roommates until three a.m., talking sports, and life.
That night, I remember two very specific conversations (or at least two that I'm willing to share). The first was an argument about who his best player was. I made the case for Steve Nash, while Cuban wouldn't give an inch, insisting that Dirk was easily his most important player.
In hindsight, this is why Mark Cuban owns a team, and I write about guys who own teams...
Well, that and the two billion dollars.
The second discussion I remember was about Pittsburgh, where we both hail from, and the likelihood of him ever making a move to buy our beloved Pirates.
He said it was unlikely.
I wish that weren't the case.
Mark Cuban isn't a stuffy suit like most owners. He's an everyman's man; the kind of guy you can meet at a bar and not see the slightest sign of a man with a billion dollars.
A billion dollars, that sounds like pretend money to guys like me; it's a thousand piles of one million dollars. Marc has two billion, yet you'd never know it. He wears jeans and t-shirts on the sidelines, he cracks jokes, yells at refs, chats with fans, and when he speaks you can still hear some of that Pittsburgh-ese in his voice.
Other than his terrific court-side seats, he's just like every other fan in the building...
Except this fan owns the team.
And he's the best owner in sports.
He treats his players like family, he makes sure they have the best of everything, he lets his coaches coach, and he'll never shy away from spending big money if he thinks it will bring his team great success.
Mark Cuban is the reason why the Dallas Mavericks, a sad franchise before him, are now a perennial contender. Yet, after winning the NBA title, he wanted no credit, no air-time, and no accolades; he passed it all on to his players and coaches.
That night, Mark said it was very unlikely he'd ever buy the Pirates.
Please Mark, reconsider. Our hometown boys need you.
And here's a few other franchises that need you more than the Dallas Mavericks:
The most frustrating thing about being a long-time Clipper fan and season ticket holder is dealing with our owner, Donald Sterling, the worst in all of sports.
Unlike Mark Cuban, The Donald is not in it to win it.
No, Donald is in it to make money.
Donald is a very rich man, and he's made his money on the backs of less fortunate people. He's got a reputation as being a slum-lord out here in Los Angeles, and having seen some of his places, and knowing some people who live in them, I believe the reputation is accurate.
The Clippers could lose 82 games a year, but if The Donald turned a profit (which he always does), he'd be perfectly happy.
Mark, we've got Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, and Clipper Darryl; those are three great reasons to sell Dallas, and buy our beloved Clippers.
You may be wondering what the New York Yankees are doing on this list.
Well, I'll tell you-
The Yankees, owned and run by George Steinbrenner for about a thousand years, are the most successful franchise in all of sports. However, after George's passing, things are beginning to change, and not for the better.
The Yankees need another strong and wealthy owner who will stand up and spend the necessary cash to keep the franchise at the top of the baseball stratosphere.
George Steinbrenner is irreplaceable, but Mark Cuban is the one man who can best keep that winning tradition going.
Yes, the Pirates have a winning record, this year, as of today. However, I'd be willing to bet my car that they finish below .500. I mean, come on, they've done so for two straight decades.
In the seventies, and again in the nineties, the PIrates were one of the stronger teams in baseball. Greats like Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla kept them in contention for a pennant every year.
But then, in 1992 and 93, Bobby Bonilla, and then Barry Bonds, left the team for huge money with the Mets and Giants (respectively). And since those two left, the Pirates haven't been able to compete because they haven't had enough money to keep their own stars, let alone sign other free agents.
The Pirates need a cock-sure and rich owner who will come in, open up his wallet, and return Pittsburgh to their glory days.
That guy is former native of Pittsburgh, Mr. Mark Cuban.
Dan Snyder is rich and Dan Snyder is willing to spend the big money on his team. However, Dan Snyder's ego gets in the way.
Dan Snyder, like Jerry Jones, is the type of owner who wants to have his hands in everything. Instead of hiring good football people and letting them do their jobs, Snyder often overrules his GM, and goes his own way, often to the detriment of his own team.
No other team in sports has taken on as many big, bloated, and bad contracts as Dan Synder's Redskins.
Mark Cuban will spend, but unlike Snyder, he'll trust his employees to make the decisions he's paying them for.
Soccer has been trying to push it's way into the hearts of Americans for quite a while now.
It has yet to be successful.
Sure, kids love to play the game. Take a couple dozen eight-year-olds, give them a soccer ball, a couple nets and an unlimited supply of orange wedges, and they'll go at it all day.
However, usually around puberty, their love of the game is forgotten. Maybe it's because the kids are having to make room for other new things in their lives, like chasing girls, or maybe it's just because soccer stinks, and it takes kids a while to figure that out.
Whatever the case, Los Angeles, with it's large Mexican community, has seen an uptrend in soccer attendance and popularity.
A few years ago, the Galaxy went all in and signed David Beckham to a ridiculous contract, hoping he would be the savior of soccer, finally making it into a legit US sport.
That little project failed miserably.
I bought season tickets that year to take my wife, because like all women, she loves David. However, he got hurt and didn't play for most of the year, and we stopped going after the second game.
David Beckham couldn't turn soccer into a legit sport here in America.
Mark Cuban can.
I don't know how he'll do it, but he will. He's smart, he's got money, and he's got his fingers on the pulse of America.
If soccer ever wants to become a mainstream sport in this country, then it needs to bring on someone of the caliber of Mark Cuban...or maybe even Mark himself.
But I'm still hoping he buys the Pirates.
Come on, Mark, buy the Buccos. Please.