CUBAN TRIED TO SIGN MJ BACK IN 2001 “We’ll win, I’ll spend whatever”

There hasn’t been a more eccentric owner than Marc Cuban. From his locker room incidents to his fights with refs, Cuban has always been known as a heavily involved type of millionaire. Players have always loved to play for Mavericks because they knew that their owner is all about the right things. The winning culture that developed in Dallas has always been a main pull-factor for the players, and a vast credit in developing it goes to their owner.

As public and outgoing as he is, Cuban never crossed the line Krause did. In Dallas, players are the ones on the stage, getting the most credit. The best validation for him has always been the ring ceremony. Marc discovered that the one who had a considerable part in forming his mentality was Jerry Krause, with his comment that it wasn’t all about the players.

“There is that Jerry Krause comment that players don’t win the championships, organizations do. That thought always goes through my head before I say anything because it’s all about the players. He learned that the hard way. That was 22 years ago they’ve won their last championship. I don’t want to go; it’s already been nine years for us. I don’t want to go that long without the championship, so I’m trying to learn from what they did.”

Mark Cuban, ESPN

What a contrary to Krause. Not from the standpoint of constructing the NBA roster, but from the aspect of wanting credit for it. Krause probably deserved more credit than he was given, and a lot less than he asked for. Cuban never asked for the way Krause did but was always respected around the league. His value for the Mavs has consistently been recognized in NBA circles. But he always put his players first. That’s why they loved him and still do.

Besides being players oriented, Cuban has always been one of the more aggressive pursuers of players in free agency. There are hardly any summers when one of the big fishes isn’t related to a move to Mavs. And in 2001, the biggest one was in talks with Cuban.

“When I did buy the Mavs, his agent David Falk called me up and said you need to meet Michael. So I went to David’s office, and there was Michael with all the paperwork to be part of the Wizards right on the table. I’m like ‘Dude don’t sign it; I’ll do whatever it takes. You come, I’ll give you partnership like these guys are doing, and we’ll win, I’ll spend whatever.’ He’s like ‘Mark, I can’t do it, I gave them my word’ so to his credit, it didn’t happen. But I tried.”

Mark Cuban, ESPN

Kind of makes you wish that Michael wasn’t a man of his word. Adding his veteran leadership to the roster of young upcoming Dirk Nowitzki, all-around forward Michael Finley, and pass-first point guard Steve Nash, along with legendary coach Don Nelson would’ve made an exciting group. Would adding Jordan made a significant difference – it’s hard to tell. But it creates another great what-if in NBA history.

Putting alternative history aside, the most exciting thing about this story may be the fact that Jordan’s agent offered Cuban a chance to give him his sales pitch. Imagine having an opportunity to pursue a player of Jordan’s caliber based on acquaintance. It’s another testimony to the power of agents and the importance of having relationships with them. It’s a world that every owner wants to be a part of. It provides them with opportunities they wouldn’t have had if they weren’t a part of such a network.

The thing about NBA agents is that they always look at the bigger picture. Falk introducing MJ to Cuban at that time specifically probably had some more profound reasoning behind it. He probably saw the potential Cuban had at the time, as a new millionaire team owner and a businessman, and it was apparent Jordan was playing his final seasons in the league. Maybe Falk saw an opportunity for Michael outside of basketball lines. The one that his Airness couldn’t notice at the time.