Cuban Finally Gets Satisfaction of Title
Rossi, Rob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Mark Cuban needed the NBA championship his Dallas Mavericks won Sunday night -- not for his ego, not for more money, but to show the world who he really is.
That would be a billionaire born and bred in Mt. Lebanon, rooted in Pittsburgh-bred values, who graciously allowed the Mavericks' founder, Don Carter, to be the first to receive the Larry O'Brien Trophy from NBA commissioner David Stern at Miami's American Airlines Arena.
"People might have been surprised by that, but it was 100 percent in character for Mark," childhood friend Todd Reidbord said. "He's the most loyal guy I know."
The Mavericks' surprising run to the title -- they were only the fifth NBA team seeded lower than No. 2 to win the championship since 1984 -- came at perhaps the perfect time for Cuban, who grew up in Pittsburgh mostly during the 1960s and '70s.
Brash, famously critical of the NBA and often lumped into a group of wrong-for-sports billionaire owners such as the NFL's Daniel Snyder (Redskins) and MLB's late George Steinbrenner (Yankees), Cuban's public image during this postseason changed dramatically.
If upset with on-court officiating, he complained only to his friends. Stern, his longtime adversary, mentioned his name only to congratulate Cuban's team for defeating the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Many of these Mavericks are veteran holdovers from the squad that blew a 2-0 series lead to the Heat in the 2006 Finals. The names Cuban mentioned while celebrating were Carter; Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks' general manager; and Dirk Nowitzki, the Finals MVP with whom Cuban is so tight that they watched the Steelers-Packers Super Bowl together in Cuban's suite at Cowboys Stadium.
"When he was up there saying that stuff about being happiest for Nowitzki and the Dallas fans ... I honestly believe there was a different sense of satisfaction than he would have had in 2006," said Jerry Katz, a childhood friend of Cuban's dating to Mt. Lebanon's Hoover Elementary School.
"He's always been brash, but he's also always been very caring and sincere. More of that side of Mark came through this time around."
Katz and Reidbord were at Cuban's wedding. They attended Game 3 of the Finals in Dallas, watching from a luxury suite with Cuban's brothers and in-laws. Both friends choked up when seeing TV cameras catch Cuban, 52, greeting his wife, two daughters and son outside the Mavericks' dressing room after the victorious Game 6.
Their friend, against whom they still play pickup hoops on his biyearly return trips home, had grown no less competitive, but ...
"He's matured," Reidbord said. "I mean, the morning of Game 3, he went to his daughter's dance recital. …