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Cuban Queen for the Day

Pro basketball: Billionaire owner shows he can dish it out (and take shots) behind ice cream counter.

January 17, 2002|From Associated Press

COPPELL, Texas — Trying desperately to perfect the curly tip on a soft-serve cone, Mark Cuban licked the remains of another failed effort from his fingertips and handed the messy treat to an excited 3-year-old boy.

One lick later, the kid dropped it.

That was about the only thing that went wrong Wednesday when the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks worked two hours behind a Dairy Queen counter, making good on a promise to manage the fast-food restaurant.

The company's offer came in response to Cuban's assertion that he wouldn't hire Ed Rush, the NBA's head of officiating, "to manage a Dairy Queen."

The league fined Cuban $500,000 for the comment, a record for an individual. For about $650,000, Cuban could've bought a startup DQ franchise.

So, after doing the job himself, does he still think Rush couldn't do it?

"It depends on how he treats the customers. That's the hard part," Cuban said.

"Part of the point I was trying to make with the NBA is that you have to understand your customers and learn to get better as a business."

Cuban, fined more than $1 million by the NBA in the two years since he bought the team, praised his boss-for-a-day, store owner Parrish Chapman, and took another shot at the league.

"I'd love to send Parrish up to the NBA to have him give them a lesson in exactly how to communicate," Cuban said. "When anybody needed to interact with Parrish, he was right there to answer the questions. That's the way you run a business. If Parrish just went up there and just took a look, we'd be a lot better off."

Cuban's presence created a carnival atmosphere at the suburban Dairy Queen and drew more than 1,000 people, many waiting close to an hour to place their order. The crush was so big the restaurant ran out of ice.

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