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T.J. SIMERS

Mark Cuban's interest in the Dodgers is open to interpretation

Many fans see Dallas Mavericks owner as a possible savior to baseball club, but where does he really stand on the issues facing the team? The columnist thinks he knows.

May 02, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban plays with a basketball on the sideline before the start of Game 1 against the Lakers at Staples Center on Monday night.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban plays with a basketball on the sideline… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Talked on Monday night to Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, and the guy many fans believe can save the Dodgers if allowed to buy the team.

If Cuban lives up to the hype, he's gets his own TV show here. He's more Hollywood than Frank & Jamie ever were, and they were really working at it.

Cuban also has lots of money, which makes him different too. Forbes recently ranked him the 459th richest person in the world.

Someone needs to breathe some life into the Dodgers, and who better than someone with a big mouth, big pockets and who would be a big pain for Bud Selig?

Cuban has already expressed an interest in the Pittsburgh Pirates, which is forgivable because he was born there. He went after the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers; the feeling in most quarters was he lost out because he's not Selig's kind of owner.

We know all about the kind of owner Selig approves, and how's that going?

I asked Cuban about owning the Dodgers, figuring for sure he would pop off. That is his reputation. Great copy for a columnist.

But Cuban went gutless, the mighty mouth muzzling himself.

That would suggest he really does have an interest in buying the team, opting not to say anything to avoid riling up Selig.

What a disappointment, as I told him, and do we really want an owner here who is afraid to rile up Selig?

"Just make up something that you want me to say,'' Cuban said, "and then put my name to it.''

All right, my kind of owner, after all.

"When I become owner of the Dodgers, fans will never again have to worry about the Dodgers having enough money to sign the best players,'' said Cuban, although I made it up because that's what I would like the next owner of the Dodgers to say.

"I will spend so much money, Bud will consider fining me. As you know I've racked up something like $1.665 million in NBA fines, so if that's what it takes to have the best team in Los Angeles, bring it on, Buddy boy.

"I matched every dollar that I was fined and donated it to charity. I do believe in community, and have the check stubs to prove it.

"Now I don't want to brag, but before I bought the Mavericks, Dallas won 40% of its games the previous 20 years. We're winning at a 69% clip ever since I took over in 2000. I'm a happily married man, and you have to love that.

"I will lower the price to park, because how can I expect anyone to come to Dodger Stadium with the left fielders this team has employed? I will stand up and boo Jonathan Broxton like most of you.

"I know how to tweet, and we'll have people so excited about the Dodgers again no one will notice Jeanie's boy toy is back in Montana. Good riddance, by the way, and how about letting another team win the NBA title for a change?

"That way I can get everyone watching the Dodgers again. I know Bloomberg has reported I'm selling all my Landmark Theatres and Magnolia Pictures so I can pay cash for the Dodgers. But I have plenty of cash. Cash will never be a problem, and when was the last time a Dodgers owner could tell you that?''

Now that's what I would expect Cuban to say, so I have him saying it right here because that's what he asked me to do on his behalf.

Just think if Frank McCourt had been smart enough in the beginning to tell me what to say and just put his name to it. Could he really be any worse off?

BASED ON how he has handled the Mavericks, I asked Phil Jackson how Cuban might do as Dodgers' owner.

"He'd really improve the quality of their team,'' Jackson said. "He's improved the quality of [the Mavericks] every time he's rebuilt.''

Do you like the kind of owner he's been?

"I wouldn't want him behind my bench,'' Jackson said. "Where could he be in baseball?"

I told him right behind home plate — mugging for the cameras, of course. It'd be nice if someone sat in those empty seats.

"Can't be in the dugout anymore?" Jackson said.

I told him that was Cuban's first question, but he was advised that baseball doesn't allow it.

"Tell him to speak to Ted Turner," said Jackson, alluding to the owner of the Braves who got around the dugout rule by declaring himself the manager of the team.

If you think about it, Don Mattingly really doesn't have much more experience than Cuban.

JACKSON SAID he had to apologize to the Maloof brothers, who own the Sacramento Kings.

"I sent them a written apology," Jackson said, doing so because he had recently compared the Maloofs to the McCourts.

I asked him what he had said to necessitate such an apology, and with a grin Jackson replied, "I don't remember…''

I wanted to know whether it was actually a handwritten letter.

"Yes," said Jackson, who must have felt some pressure from the league. "I had a gun at my head.''

THE NEXT time Mommy or Daddy tells you to do your homework, pick up a basketball and start dribbling.

Five of the 10 starters in this series, Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Dirk Nowitzki, DeShawn Stevenson and Tyson Chandler, never went beyond high school before going on to make millions in the NBA.

Who needs to waste their time on real school things? Not even journalists, thanks to spel check.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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