Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has never been one to hold back verbalizing his animosity towards the Los Angeles Lakers and anyone affiliated with the franchise.
During Phil Jackson’s time as head coach of the Lakers, Cuban and Phil would routinely get into verbal exchanges through the media.
Earlier this season Mark Cuban suggested that the Lakers consider cutting Kobe Bryant under the NBA’s amnesty clause.
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?” Cuban stated in an on air interview with ESPN affiliated radio station in Dallas.
Kobe Bryant responded to Mark Cuban’s comments, first by actions on the court, dropping 38 points, 12 rebounds and dishing out 12 assists in a 103-99 win in Dallas on February 24th.
Following the game, Kobe responded succinctly to Cuban’s amnesty comments with an “Amnesty THAT.”
The Mavericks are two years removed since their NBA championship and their current roster has only 3 carryovers from those teams. The Mavs’ failed attempts at luring a big name free agent this past off-season left them scrambling to acquire warm bodies to fill out their roster at the last minute via free agency and trades; players such as Elton Brand, Chris Kamen, Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. The player however, that Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks went all- in on was Dwight Howard. To Mark Cuban’s dismay, he not only missed out on acquiring the All Star center, he lost him to the hated Lakers. The seething Cuban again voiced his concerns to the media.
“I don’t know, I don’t care, I just hope they suck,” Cuban said to reporters just before playing their opening game against the Lakers this season. “Obviously, Nash is great. He’s phenomenal, Dwight’s phenomenal, Kobe … but it takes a team,” Cuban added. “They’ve got to come together and play as a team. Hopefully, they won’t figure it out tonight.”
While the Lakers most certainly don’t “suck”, they are far from meeting the expectations of being a championship contending team. The Lakers had seemed to be figuring it out and improving until their momentum came to a screeching halt with Kobe’s injury to his ankle that caused him to miss 2 full games and then the reinsertion of Pau Gasol to the starting line-up after missing 6 weeks of action.
The Lakers are currently on a 3 game losing streak and their position in the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference is precarious.
In contrast, the Dallas Mavericks are surging and right on the Lakers heels. They’ve won 3 in a row, 9 of their last 12 games and are now just 1 game back of the Lakers for that final post in the playoffs. While I can’t speak for Mark Cuban, I think it is safe to assume that there is nothing more on this planet that Mark Cuban would want then to have his pre-season wish granted of the Lakers’ “sucking” by having his Mavs knock the pre-season favorites to win the Western Conference Los Angeles Lakers out of the playoffs.
Similar to how Kobe Bryant responded to Mark’s amnesty comments earlier in the year by dominating on the court, the same response by the Lakers as a whole is needed now to Cuban’s “I just hope they suck” comment. They’ll be time for a clever retort later ( I have a very obvious one in mind), but they first must respond on the court by dominating their last 11 games to close out the season. Don’t know if Mark Cuban’s comments will light a fire under the Lakers squad, but something needs to because any misstep the rest of the way could mean be an abrupt end to their season and much joy in the direction of Cuban. You would imagine keeping a smile off Cuban’s smug face should be enough motivation for the squad.