Nineteen years ago, billionaire Mark Cuban (who famously appears on Shark Tank) bought the NBA team Dallas Mavericks. Cuban bought the majority shares of the franchise for $280 million in the year 2000. However, as per Cuban, the acquisition has nothing to do with money. The 60 year old said on CNBC Make It: “[The acquisition] Never crossed my mind as an investment. I did it because I love basketball.”
Cuban also released a 10 minute video clip of one of his interviews during that time. During the 2000 interview, the (then) 41 year old Cuban said:
“I love the Mavericks. I am just a huge Mavericks fan. And I have just been blessed and put in a position where I can contribute. This is a business, but it is a business that I am willing to commit as much money as it takes. Whatever energy, funding, to make this team successful.”
Upon acquiring the team, Cuban didn’t have astronomical hopes and understood that taking the Mavericks towards success will take time and effort, and it will be a steep learning curve for him. He said: “If you look at winning teams in the NBA, there has been a level of continuity to all of them. So, my focus is not going to be okay let’s go in there and make immediate changes, my focus is going to be, let’s go in there and learn. Let’s see how things are operating and what’s working and what’s not working.”
The tech entrepreneur co-founded online streaming company Broadcast.com and became a billionaire after selling it to Yahoo. His current net worth as per Forbes.com is $3.9 billion. The Dallas Mavericks team was his first ever investment in a private firm which he didn’t co-found. And Cuban added in 2000: “Just like Broadcast.com and other businesses before that, it is time to go to work. And it’s time to really focus on the things I need to do and first is learning, getting fans into the arena and getting people excited and I think we are making significant progress there.”
Since his acquisition, the Dallas Mavericks have been one of the most consistently successful franchises in NBA history. They have only had two losing seasons and have won half or more than half of their games on sixteen occasions. The pinnacle of their success came in the 2011 NBA Finals when they defeated the star studded Miami Heat featuring LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, to win the first and only championship in team history.
Growing up in a middle class family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Cuban didn’t really hear a lot of words of encouragement from the people around him. In his own words: “People thought I might go work at a mill. Nobody had high hopes for me.” He arrived in Dallas with $60 after graduating from the University of Illinois. Back then, he couldn’t afford anything more than a ticket for the $10 row.
As days went by, he became a self-taught techie. Talking on The Jamie Weinstein Show, he said: “I would stay up nights, you know, teaching myself how to program. I spent seven, almost eight years just writing software for local area networks and it was just part of an ongoing learning process. Back in the day when I was that young kid, that’s how I got an edge. I tell people all the time, the one thing in life you can control is your effort.”
Even though Cuban didn’t buy the franchise as a business investment, the Mavericks have grown in value and according to a February calculation by Forbes, is valued at $1.9 billion.
Ownership of the Mavericks has also brought some non-financial benefits to Cuban’s life: “What would you feel like as a kid, coming out and playing one-on-one with one of the best guys in the NBA. It’s, it’s, it’s awesome.”
When asked if he has any regrets about buying the Mavericks, Cuban chuckled and said: “Seriously? Lol. No.”