Before Pitt graduate student Beth Bachman innocently asked for his thoughts on the NBA’s 10-game suspension of Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis for violating the league’s steroids policy – and got this answer – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban refuted the most commonly asked question in his hometown: Will he buy the Pirates?
And just how many Pittsburghers ask this of Cuban?
“All of them,” Cuban said Tuesday afternoon during a Q&A with Pitt students at the William Pitt Union. “It’s not going to happen.”
If you’re disappointed by that answer, imagine being Cuban. The Pittsburgh native – he was born in Squirrel Hill, moved to the Birdland section of Scott Township and attended Mt. Lebanon High School before dropping out to take classes at Pitt – and billionaire founder of Broadcast.com has expressed an interest in buying the Bucs and has the money at his disposal to do so.
“I’m a Pirates fan,” Cuban said. “As a Pirates fan, I’ll support the Pirates. It doesn’t make it any less painful, but I’ll support them. … I’m as disappointed as everybody else. Obviously, they’re doing their best. Nobody tries to fail, but it’s just as frustrating as can be. I remember Sid Bream flying across the plate, and it’s just terrible that it’s been downhill since then.
“But they’re doing the best they can, and we’ll see what happens.”
Cuban was careful not to criticize the Nutting family directly for their handling of the franchise, which set a North American professional sports franchise record by completing its 17th consecutive losing season, but made it clear that the holdup was on their end. Not his.
“They’re not selling it,” Cuban said. “I’m not the type of person that say, ‘OK, just make them an offer they can’t refuse and change the world.’ Even then, let’s just say I did, it doesn’t mean they’re going to win. If it was really easy, everybody would do it. There’s a lot of teams that don’t win. There’s no magic potion that says you come in and win.”
While Cuban shrugged off actor Michael Keaton’s suggestion that the Pirates owners’ needed to write a check, the Mavs owner had an interesting take on whether Major League Baseball should enforce a rule to hold the Pirates accountable for their dismal play.
“There’s no way that ever happens,” Cuban said. “How many teams are in Major League Baseball? Thirty-two? Then there’s 31 teams thanking their lucky stars every day that one team sucks – just like how we do in the NBA. If one team wants to be really bad and suck, let ‘em. If teams want to be really bad and suck, all the better. The commissioners might not feel the same way, but the other teams are going to be thrilled to death.”
Cuban has made it clear that he’d like to own an MLB team. Aside from the Pirates, he tried to purchase the Chicago Cubs. What did he learn from that process? “Not much,” he said.
Finally, he was asked if he would be interested if the Pirates did go for sale?
“Sure,” Cuban said, “and if I was 7-feet tall, I’d be interested in playing in the NBA and if I could be 21 again, I’d be 21 again.
“But I don’t see it happening.”