Bringing in the Worm is just one of Cuban's attempts to lift his franchise out of the doldrums. Showing that no detail is too small—and that former owner Ross Perot Jr.'s bottom-line approach holds little appeal for him—Cuban is upgrading the team's hotels on the road. "We've invested more than $40 million a year on this payroll," Cuban says. "The last thing I want to hear is, 'God, I didn't sleep well on that Styrofoam pillow."
To generate interest in the Mavericks, Cuban replaced the team's P.A. announcer—"We needed more passion"—and doubled the promotional budget. To get to know his players, he's playing cards with them on the bus, and he invited the players and staff over for a Super Bowl parry. Some NBA owners can't fathom such a relationship with the rank and file, and they're keeping an eye on this upstart. "I know," Cuban says. "I met some of them, and they made it very clear I'm still just a prospective owner."
Line of the Week
Rockets guard Steve Francis, Jan. 27 versus the Warriors: 39 minutes, 7-of-20 FG, 10-of-15 FT, 25 points, 14 assists, 17 rebounds, 2 steals. O.K., so he missed some shots, but how many 6' 3" point guards could haul in 17 boards?
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