Dismiss Mark Cuban's skills at own risk

Without breaking a sweat, Craig dismisses the bizarre notion that Mark Cuban hasn't been a good NBA owner:

    The Mavericks were a laughing stock for most of their history before Cuban came. They have been a playoff team for a decade since he came. Cuban may have made all manner of mistakes over that time that kept the Mavericks in the category of "really good team" and cost them a championship or two, but to suggest that the team is not "fundamentally better off" today than they were before Cuban bought them is ridiculous.

    I don't know if Mark Cuban has a chance in the August 4th auction for the Rangers. And I don't know what his intentions would be with respect to the Rangers if he bought them. But why anyone expects that he'd be a disaster as an owner is a mystery to me.

Same here.

I've seen Cuban in public a couple of times, and played pickup basketball with him once. He's almost 52, looks 42, and acts like he's 32. With his somewhat goofy, Labrador Retriever persona it's easy to forget that Cuban went from bartender to salesman to millionaire in less than 10 years, then from millionaire to billionaire ... and yes, he also moved the Mavericks from perennial also-rans to perennial contenders.

Labrador Retrievers don't do those things.

Cuban does get fined, a lot. Over the years he's been fined nearly $2 million by the NBA (he claims to have matched his fines with charitable donations). He's been fined for criticizing officials, for ripping opposing players, for tampering with prospective free agents ... You name it, Cuban's been fined for it.

Can you think of a baseball owner like this? You can't, because Bud Selig simply hasn't allowed anyone remotely like Cuban to purchase a franchise. George Steinbrenner was obviously a loose cannon (and was actually suspended twice), but 1973 was a long time ago. Charlie Finley said whatever he liked, but he bought the A's in the early 1960s.

Under Selig, Major League Baseball essentially determines the price for a franchise, and then the commissioner chooses among the bidders who meet that price. This doesn't always result in great ownership -- witness the current messes in Texas and Los Angeles -- but it usually does result in owners who are, at least to some degree, beholden to the commissioner.

But a court-ordered auction might remove Selig, at least somewhat, from the equation. And it might be the only way for Cuban to get into the game. While Bud's running the Show, anyway.