Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is an entrepreneur who doesn’t take no for an answer, but he also has a goofy side. In 2003, Cuban played one of the greatest pranks in sports history during a timeout of a Mavs game. He had the entire arena fooled, even Mavs assistant coach Del Harris. It wasn’t until the public address announcer reminded everyone it was April Fools’ Day that they realized they were duped.
Mark Cuban pulls off an iconic prank in 2003
On April 1, 2003, the Mavericks had a home game against the New Orleans Hornets. Team owner Mark Cuban had a prank up his sleeve, but it wasn’t a normal practical joke.
Cuban could’ve given out ripped T-shirts or faked a power outage during the game, but he had a more ambitious idea in mind. After the first quarter, Cuban got up out of his seat to have a chat with one of the game’s “referees.”
What started as a chat became a verbal argument. Then, it escalated even more. Cuban waltzed onto the floor and began to yell at the ref. He got closer and closer as his displeasure turned into pure rage. Finally, Cuban snapped and shoved the referee in the chest.
Surprisingly, the ref pushed Cuban back even harder. That was the last straw for Cuban, as he lunged at the referee and attempted to tackle him to the ground. Players from the bench rushed out to separate the two, but they kept fighting. The ref threw Cuban out of the game, so the team owner attempted to charge at him again.
That’s when he was escorted off the court, just as the public address announcer exclaimed “April Fools!” Mavericks’ assistant coach Del Harris was the team member who was fooled the most. He was on the court ready to strangle Cuban as he headed off the floor, but the announcement came just in time. Cuban immediately ran over to Harris and put his arm around the coach as he breathed a sigh of relief.
Cuban has always had a flair for the dramatic
Cuban’s April Fools prank was not the only time he’s made headlines as the Mavericks’ owner. He’s one of the most famous and outspoken team owners in all of sports, so he finds himself in that position fairly often.
His flair for the dramatic made the prank believable. Cuban is such a wild card on the sideline that everyone in attendance that day truly believed he tried to fight a referee for a moment.
Cuban’s outgoing personality has gotten him into non-prank confrontations before. After his Mavericks beat LeBron James’ Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Cuban appeared on ESPN’s First Take and got into it with Skip Bayless.
Cuban called Bayless out for his lazy analysis, and Bayless just took it on the chin. Although he’s considered one of the greats in the realm of sports debate, Bayless was owned by Cuban that day.
The NBA trusts Cuban’s opinions as much as any team owner’s
The April Fools stunt clearly didn’t anger the NBA enough to take any action against Cuban. He is still one of the most respected owners in the sport, and Adam Silver never hesitates to involve Cuban in league decisions.
Immediately following the NBA suspension due to COVID-19 concerns, Cuban was shown on the sideline with his mouth wide open in disbelief. ESPN even interviewed Cuban during the Mavericks game that night.
Just recently, President Donald Trump involved Cuban in a conference call to determine when to start professional sports again. Even though he has a goofy side, Cuban is still one of the most respected voices in professional sports.