Mark Cuban is a force of nature. There’s no other franchise owner like him. Jerry Jones is the only other owner in sports history to step out from behind the franchise curtain, becoming a star in his own right. Maybe Robert Kraft belongs in that club, but his stardom is closer to notoriety. Cuban is certainly the only superstar owner in the NBA.
And in the years since the Dallas Mavericks made their championship run, his legend has only continued to grow.
Mark Cuban and the Mavericks
Cuban is a businessman first and a basketball fan second. Achievement is in his blood. Cuban has been a Dallas, Texas fixture since college. He got his start in the ’80s after forming, and subsequently selling, his own software reseller company.
During the ’90s, he would go on to form and sell a chain of successful tech industry startups culminating in the sale of broadcast.com to Yahoo for almost six billion dollars. Cuban is the essence of a self-made billionaire, according to Forbes.
In 2000, he turned his sights to professional sports by purchasing the majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks for $285 million. Under Cuban’s business direction, the team went from the lower half of the NBA in terms of record and playoff appearances, to the upper tier, injecting the franchise with new life.
In 2006, they made their first trip to the NBA finals, and in 2011 they won their first title against the Miami Heat. Since then, Cuban’s public persona has continued to soar, even if the team did not.
Mark Cuban: owner or brand?
A legitimate case could be made that up until 2011, everything Cuban did was about cultivating his brand. That includes winning the championship. Since then, his public persona has been less about Cuban the owner and more about Cuban the brand.
“The proof is in the pudding,” as the old saying goes. Since the Mavs won, they haven’t come close to retaking the title. A handful of playoff appearances aside, the team has lacked the overall momentum necessary to get back on top. Which doesn’t seem to bother their owner at all.
Cuban, on the other hand, has seen his personal stock increase steadily. In the decade since, he’s become more than just an owner and software pioneer; he’s become a media personality.
Bleacher Report pointed out, he’s more known for being the main host of Shark Tank than his role with the Mavs. Despite his disdain for the current administration and public back-and-forth with politicians like Ted Cruz via social media, there’s even been talk that Cuban might take a page out of Donald Trump’s book and run for office.
So where does an outspoken entrepreneur like Cuban go from here? Does he reinvest in basketball, or go on to something else entirely?
Always be selling
As the NBA struggles to contend with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mark Cuban stands poised to re-launch his brand. During all the political turmoil and civil unrest, he’s been an outspoken voice and thought leader for the NBA.
He’s used his brand to actively challenge politicians regarding racism, social equality, and financial relief during the pandemic. Although he isn’t paying his players as much as some other owners, he was the first owner to make sure his players, as well as his stadium staff, received a paycheck during the height of the Coronavirus.
It’s precisely that type of leadership that’s necessary going forward in order to make a more socially conscious, equitable league that can fill the stands in a post-COVID world. But what about the game itself?
Cuban the brand is also ready to launch the Mavericks 2.0 as well. With their 2018 signing of Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic, Dallas once again has an on-the-court leader to match Cuban’s off-the-court progressiveness. After all, Cuban is a calculated man; when it comes to his most valuable investments, he only moves when the time is right.