The NBA season is only two months old, and the league has already fined Mavs owner Mark Cuban four times. How wacky was this latest incident? Let's just say that, even on the inflated Cuban scale of outrageousness, it ranked pretty high. Herewith we rate it and other select antics this season on our handy Cuban-O-Meter.
Incident: Commenting last week on his ongoing tussles with the league office, Cuban says of commissioner David Stern, "I won't get him in a headlock, but maybe I'll get some tweezers and yank out those nose hairs of his. You know, when you sit next to him, you definitely know which way the wind is blowing."
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 8
Incident: Upset that refs missed a goaltending call in the waning moments of a 107-104 loss to the Pistons on Jan. 3, Cuban has a replay of the transgression frozen on the Jumbo Tron in Reunion Arena and encourages photographers to take pictures. The league nails him for $250,000. "I'm glad the fine was that much," says Cuban. "I'll never shut up as long as I see incompetence that's in no way trying to get better."
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 9
Incident: In a late November attempt to stuff the All-Star ballot box, Cuban e-mails 1,000 people a ballot with instructions on how to cast it for Mavs players. Because Cuban fails to list the message's recipients under a "blind carbon copy" option, every response to his note—and every irate complaint to Cuban—gets sent to every addressee, clogging thousands of in-boxes across the nation for several days. "My screw-up," says techno-billionaire Cuban. "We were just trying to promote our players."
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 6
Incident: After Karl Malone of the Jazz twice elbows Christian Laettner during a Nov. 20 game, Cuban files a complaint with the NBA, saying, " Karl Malone is a thug and he ought to be suspended and he ought to be fined. If this were hockey, they would be thinking about pressing legal charges against him."
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 3
Incident: In a span of eight days in mid-November, Cuban is fined three times by the league for "verbally abusing" officials. Total: $45,000. "Players don't get better unless you scout them and point out their weaknesses," says Cuban. "How can the refs get better if we just let them make mistakes and close our eyes to it?"
Cuban-O-Meter rating: 4