The first face Mark Cuban saw after his team won the championship was Brendan Haywood's (Getty Images)
At first glance, you kind of want to rip Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for heckling opposing players. Mark's in his mid-50s, now, and has been associated with the NBA as a team owner for nearly 13 years. He doesn't exactly have to show up to his bench-side seat in a suit and clap politely, but shouldn't some decorum have taken over by now?
Eh, forget that. It's probably not how we would have acted in the same situation, but Cuban is well within his rights to give former Mavs center Brendan Haywood a bit of stick during a recent performance in Charlotte that bore no resemblance to Haywood's iffy three-year run with the Mavs. From the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell:
Haywood had a good night — 14 points and 11 rebounds — and he got a little playful with the crowd. After hitting a fadeaway jump shot, he back-pedaled to the defensive end while making the finger-to-the-lips "shhhhhh'' signal.
I laughed because it was the most swagger I'd seen from a Bobcat since Stephen Jackson departed. And it was fun, not combative.
Somebody in the stands responded well, though. During the next timeout a fan shouted, "Hey Haywood! It would have taken you a month to score 12 points last season!''
I asked Haywood about all the joshing post-game. He told me the real trash-talker was from Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who shouted something at him every time he took a shot.
You've heard the ages-old heckler retort — "I paid for this seat, I can say what I want!" Well, Cuban's taken that to an even higher level.
Not only did he pay for the seat on the bench of the team he owns, but he's also paying most of Haywood's salary even if Brendan is currently a member of the Charlotte Bobcats. The Mavericks waived Haywood last summer using the NBA's amnesty provision, but Cuban personally is still on the hook for the remaining guaranteed three years on Haywood's contract. The Bobcats signed Brendan to a two-year, $6 million deal last summer, but Cuban will still be paying the difference between Haywood's waived Dallas deal (about $5 million a year) and his new Charlotte contract.
So, just as long as Mark keeps it light (and, considering Haywood's struggles during the 2011-12 season, "nearly accurate") and doesn't go anywhere near the sort of nasty tone that marked Donald Sterling's sickening rants sent at Baron Davis a while back, then we're more than OK with this early season chatter.
And especially as long as Cuban's charitable touch, so far away from Sterling's performance in that area that you need a NASA technology to measure the distance between the two, stays in place. From Eddie Sefko at the Dallas Morning News:
"His name is Braeden and he's going through chemotherapy,'' Cuban said. "We met before the game and he was really smart talking about the Mavericks. He knew his stuff. After the game, he came to say goodbye and gave me the wristband.''
Cuban continued wearing the band as a show of support.
Meanwhile, Cuban expounded on his decision to donate $1-million to the relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
"It's one of those things that: there but for the grace of God go I,'' Cuban said. "I just thought it was the right thing to do. It was my personal responsibility.''
And, once again, if you want to help the same relief efforts that Cuban has donated to, the Red Cross is a good place to start.
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