DALLAS -- An unlikely sideshow developed prior to Monday night's Game 4 of the Mavericks-Nuggets series: Mark Cuban vs. Kenyon Martin's mother.
The billionaire team owner and local mom became linked because of a brief confrontation in the heated aftermath of Game 3, when Denver benefited from an NBA-acknowledged officiating mistake and beat Dallas 106-105 for a 3-0 series lead.
Cuban stalked across the court, blew off steam at the scorer's table, then headed down a hall leading away from the court. Lydia Moore, wearing a Nuggets jersey, was standing near the base of the section he walked past, clearly in his view.
According to Cuban, a fan called the Nuggets "thugs" and he looked at Moore and said, "That includes your son." However, Martin's agent told the Denver Post that Cuban said, "Your son is a punk."
On Monday, Cuban would only say, "I'm happy to let her sit next to me. I've got no problem with Mrs. Martin."
Martin doesn't do interviews during the open locker room period before tipoff, but during Monday morning's shootaround he vowed to handle things himself.
"It's a little personal, and I'm going to take care of it," he said. "I'm not going to do the whole media thing, back and forth. That's his thing. I'm more of a face-to-face type of dude."
League spokesman Tim Frank said Monday that all of the postgame fallout was still under review.
Cuban will not have to deal with the wrath of fans in Denver. He said on Monday that he will not be at Game 5, which the Mavs forced with a 119-117 win in Dallas. Cuban said that weeks ago he promised his wife -- a former advertising executive -- that he would attend the Clio Awards in Las Vegas.
In the second quarter Monday night, things got tense when Denver's Carmelo Anthony received a technical foul for shoving Dallas' Antoine Wright. As officials reviewed the play -- presumably to consider ejecting Anthony -- Martin went from the bench to near midcourt to make sure his mom and family were OK. They were, as security around them was beefed up.
Martin, who grew up in Dallas, already was fined $25,000 by the league for a hard foul on Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki during Game 1. That prompted his sister to call Michael Irvin's local radio show and defend her brother: "The one thing that I want to make clear, and very clear, is that my brother is not a thug. He's a human being that's doing his job."
Cuban has racked up more than $1 million in fines from the league, and even been suspended, for actions the league has deemed non-owner-like behavior. Most of it falls under the category of being passionate, which is how Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle sees this incident. Carlisle gave a 3-minute answer to a question about his boss, starting with saying this year (his first in Dallas) has been his best in coaching and ending with "I would swear by this guy."
"He's emotional, but his emotions -- however they manifest -- are all directed toward one thing, and I'm absolutely convinced that is putting forth the best product for our fans," Carlisle said.
Nuggets coach George Karl said he considers Cuban "very good for the game of basketball, but he's very eclectic and very different."
As for how he expects Martin to "take care of" Cuban, Karl said he expects it to be properly handled.
"Kenyon's a man. He doesn't want to discuss his problems with [reporters]. He wants to discuss his problems with Mark," Karl said. "I would prefer he probably do it in the summertime. That would probably be best served for both of them. Let the emotion go away and go have dinner."
Cuban also had a run-in with a cameraman. He said that he will lobby the league to institute guidelines on how close cameramen can get to people on the floor after games.
"There should be some limits on how close a guy gets to you," Cuban said, adding that "if it was anyone else, it would have been a non-event."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.