Mark Cuban sat in the absolute middle of the Mavericks locker room on Friday night at the TD Banknorth Garden, lounging back with his feet propped up on an equipment crate. He wore jeans and a black T-shirt from the NBA All-Star game as Dallas players in towels cracked jokes around him. He’s the owner of the league’s best team, and he knows how to make himself the center of attention.
Cuban has been drawing attention since he brought his unorthodox style to Dallas in January of 2000. His courtside enthusiasm during games is well known, and he keeps himself and his team in the spotlight with countless television appearances. And for the past three years, the owner has found a forum for airing his thoughts that seems to suit him: Blogging.
“It’s just a good way to say what’s on my mind, whatever is of interest to me,” said Cuban, whose recent posts on BlogMaverick.com include his thoughts on the new NBC/Newscorp challenge to YouTube, and one entitled, “Dwyane Wade a leader?” Cuban’s dig at Wade added fuel to a back-and-forth between Wade and Dallas’s Dirk Nowitzki on exactly what happened in last year’s NBA Finals.
Cuban says he has not changed his approach much in three years of blogging. He isn’t afraid to let people read his personal thoughts, and never was. But how would Cuban feel if one of his own players spilled his personal thoughts on a blog?
“I’d be fine with it,” said Cuban. “We’ve had Josh (Howard) blog and we’ve had Devin (Harris) blog at various points. I trust our guys.”
The Red Sox’ Curt Schilling has recently used his blog — 38pitches.com — to sound off on everything from his contract status to his trash talk with Kevin Millar. Schilling even wrote Jonathan Papelbon would return to the closer’s role before it was officially announced by the team. Schilling apologized to manager Terry Francona the next day for spilling the beans.
Told of the Schilling situation, Cuban was asked if he would be OK with his players breaking team news before it was officially announced.
“Most of the guys are very protective our information,” said Cuban. “They recognize that what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. I’d have no problem with [one of my players starting his own blog]. I think it would be a great way for fans to get insights into the players.”
Cuban is no stranger to emerging media. He co-founded Broadcast.com, a provider of streaming Internet multimedia, in 1995. He made millions when he sold it to Yahoo! in 1999. The entrepreneur thinks there may be a big market for new concepts like in-game blogging.
“When you read the AP wrap-ups anymore about a game, they’re really minimal,” said Cuban. “I don’t think the opportunity is so much for people to follow along. I think bloggers who are trying to blog in real time during games and are trying to build an audience of people following along and interacting, I don’t think that’s really the biggest opportunity. I think the biggest opportunity is to go through entire games and map out what’s happening, blog it in real time, and then take all of that and consolidate it and syndicate that out as an alternative to AP.”
“So if somebody was a really good blogger and immediately after the game ended had an in-depth story about what happened throughout the game, that I think is a unique opportunity. You could go to different newspaper websites and local websites in Boston or Dallas and say, ‘Look, do you want AP, 500 words with no real depth, or do you want 1,500 words with what happened possession by possession?’ I think that has real value.”
Despite his fascination with new media, Cuban was quick to point out that traditional media was by no means dead. He said he could never see a point where owners like himself, players like Schilling, or the leagues themselves, were the only disseminators of news.
“You want somebody with an outside point of view that is objective or at least tries to be somewhat objective,” said Cuban. “Plus distribution is different. Even if you look at different types of PDAs of all sizes, laptops, whatever, cell phones, I don’t think people necessarily want to be caught having to read everything in monitor type.”
The new-media Maverick considers himself to be somewhat old-school.
“I think there’s something to be said for sitting on the John reading a newspaper, or laying in bed reading the newspaper,” said Cuban. “You can read more words and you can read more. That’s not to say that [newspapers] are going to be the primary source of information, but that’s going to be the primary source for in-depth information.”