The self-made maverick: In his latest venture, Dallas NBA team’s owner just might be revolutionizing movie distribution
May 21, 2006, Austin American-Statesman
Subtlety has left the building. It wasn’t excused, but expelled, chased by the echo of a yell.
Mark Cuban, the self-made billionaire from Dallas, has gotten raucous, again. Jolted from his seat, he’s courtside at Game 1 of the playoffs between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks, the basketball team he owns, and he’s roiled. Wearing a blue Mavericks jersey, the hulky Cuban hollers, chest thrusting, fists punching the air, his face a welter of outrage.
In the six years he has owned the Mavericks, Cuban’s game-time spectacles of brute enthusiasm have gone from obnoxious to legendary, chafing fans and officials, who’ve rewarded the tantrumy proprietor with fines that would render destitute the average basketball fan.
During this May 7 game in San Antonio, Cuban hit the court to rebuke the referees, a considerable no-no. A few days later, the National Basketball Association fined Cuban $200,000, half for the incident and half for comments he posted on his blog, in which he called the playoff officials unqualified.
Cuban has been fined eight times for more than $1 million and suspended from three games.
But what’s a million or so to a billionaire? Like a jaywalking ticket to the rest of us?
“No, it’s still a lot of money,” Cuban says. “I know the value of money. I could be doing a whole lot of other things with it.”
What he’s been doing lately is revamping the way movies are produced and distributed, including releasing DVDs of films the same day they open in theaters.
His co-ownership, with Todd Wagner, of 2929 Entertainment, which holds production and distribution companies and an arthouse movie chain, has made Cuban a muscular player in the independent film world.
As if we would forget him, Cuban’s innovations in movie distribution and the heady accomplishments of the Mavericks have vaulted the boyish Texas billionaire back into high relief. Here talking art films, there chest-bumping sweaty athletes, his profile is as visible as ever.
Yet he remains best known for money and moxie. With a net worth of $1.8 billion, made during the Internet boom, he is the 428th-richest person in the world, tied with 22 other individuals, according to Forbes. Not as rich as Bill Gates (No. 1 with $50 billion), though a speck wealthier than Queen Oprah, who sits at No. 562 with $1.4 billion.
The basketball team (price: $285 million) and a Gulfstream jet ($41 million, bought online) are Cuban’s largest material purchases. Another major acquisition was his 24,000-square-foot Dallas mansion, where he lives with wife Tiffany, daughter Alexis, 2 1/2, and her cat Meshugana, whose name is Yiddish for a crazy person.
This is the good life. A healthy middle-aged billionaire who wears faded jeans and sneakers, more akin to a grown-up fraternity brother, boasting popular tastes (“I’m a Bud Lite guy’’) and a love of rugby and rap, and sporting a functional school-kid haircut. Continue reading