|The Cuban Blizzard Crisis|
By Jim Caple
Seeing Mark Cuban's fines mount up is like watching the tote board on the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon. After just two years in the league, the Dallas Mavericks owner is already up to $1 million, including this week's record $500,000 fine.
Usually, I applaud Cuban's passionate rebellion, but this time he deserved an even larger fine. He was completely out of line when he said Ed T. Rush is so incompetent he wouldn't hire the NBA director of officials to run a Dairy Queen. The comment was mean-spirited, unfair and demeaning to the profession. After all, does he have any idea how difficult it is to manage a Dairy Queen?
For one thing, the job description includes saying "scrumpdillyishus."
"It's a little insulting," Seattle-area Dairy Queen manager Lance Curtis said of Cuban's comment. "He's insinuating that it's a subpar job. It's not. It's not an easy job. I can see where it would be looked at as not that involved a job, not a high-money sales job, but you really have to be on your toes. There's no time for resting. There's no time to rest on your laurels."
Your laurels? Hey, there isn't time to lean on the counter and rest on your elbows. Not when it's 95 degrees on a summer day, the Blizzard machine is down, the girl working the counter just broke up with her boyfriend, the kid on the grill just went home sick with the measles, a Little League team is walking through the doorway and the drive-thru window has such a line of cars that it looks like Princess Di's funeral procession.
Compared to that, defending Phil Jackson's triangle offense is a snap.
Curtis says he works six days a week, nine hours a day. He has to interview, hire and train workers, fill out time cards, order inventory, fill in for people who are sick and occasionally work the grill and the counter. And all the while, he's responsible for workers so young they could be a lottery pick's illegitimate children.
"Just dealing with the staff is a challenge," said Hal, a Seattle-area DQ manager who declined to give his last name. "You're dealing with 16- and 17 year-old kids. You have to be on top of them all the time. You have to constantly tell them to clean this and do that."
"You have to keep them focused on their job and that's no easy task," Curtis added. "They want to talk to themselves and chat about what happened in class and you have to make sure they do their jobs. That's quite a task."
Which is harder, running a Dairy Queen or an NBA team? Let's compare:
So each business has its rewards and drawbacks. But when you factor in all the variables -- hours, responsibilities, public expectations, pressure, salary and benefits -- it all comes down to one simple, basic question: With all his riches, could Cuban make a decent Blizzard -- and by that I mean one that has the proper ratio of Butterfinger to ice cream and isn't too runny, even on the hottest day of the summer?
"If he was properly trained, he could," Curtis said.
So, he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for Page 2.