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Mark Cuban Style

Mary Kay and I went to a Cancer Society fundraiser last year and were the highest bidder for a “sports package” – which included four tickets for a Dallas Mavs game, four tickets to a Texas Rangers game and four tickets for a baseball game at any other stadium that serves Coca-Cola, the sponsor.

Friday night we attended the Mavs / Spurs game in Dallas.

We both love basketball. Mary Kay had season tickets for the Clippers when she lived in Los Angeles. They were decent seats near the end line – about 50 or so rows up from the floor. When I lived in Milwaukee I had a ten-game package that included all of the home games with the Bulls, when Michael Jordan was playing. These seats were two rows from the roof! We had season tickets for the Baylor women’s team when they won the national championship. These tickets were at the end of the court – again in the nosebleed seats.

When I picked up the Mavericks tickets I looked to see where they were. They were in row A. I’ve never sat in row A, except at a movie theater, in the row NO ONE ever sits. I also noticed the price of each ticket was $326. Yeah, Coca-Cola!

We were three rows from the court. Two rows behind the bench. With one giant step, we could have high-fived Dirk Nowitzki, who will at some point be in the NBA Hall of Fame. We were also just a long putt from Mark Cuban and his courtside seat. He gave me a lesson on Leadership – without him even knowing it.

Besides being known for owning the Mavs many of you know Cuban as one of the panelists on Shark Tank. According to Sharkalystics.com he has invested in 85 deals over 111 episodes, investing $19,850,000.

What we watched was one of the most involved executives that I’ve ever witnessed, regardless of the company, industry or sport. This guy interacted with the players, with the fans, with the referees, with anyone who was having fun in the arena. Mark spends lots of time with his players – his team. But this isn’t new to him.

Since he purchased the Mavs on January 4, 2000, for $285 million he has been involved.

A 2010 ESPN article by Tim MacMahon stated:

“Cuban essentially changed everything without firing anyone that season. He put an end to the ‘nickel and diming’ of the previous ownership by renovating the run-down locker room, putting the team up in five-star hotels, providing catering after practices and games, purchasing a 757 jet for team flights, investing in advanced statistical and analytical studies to aid scouting, and beefing up the coaching staff until there was a 1-to-1 player-to-coach ratio.”

Early in his ownership with the Mavs, there was an ice storm in Dallas. He hired limousines to take all 15 of his players’ home safely. Last year he built a $70 million practice facility – converting empty warehouses. In it, he built a separate room for possible female coaches for the Mavs future.

At their last home game this year Tony Romo, retired Cowboys quarterback, is going to dress with the team and sit on the bench for the game. Of course, Tony will wear his own number 9.

Across town is the renowned owner of the Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones. In 1985 Jones purchased the Cowboys for $140 million. One of the first things he did was fire the head coach, Tom Landry. When Cuban purchased the Mavs one of the first things he did was give then head coach, Don Nelson, carte blanche – who thought, for sure, he’d be fired.

Both billionaires, both strong egos. The difference is that Cuban is all about his team, taking care of his team and letting his coach be the coach. Leadership.

It was a great night of fun. For me, however, it was another lesson in leadership.

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