A dejected Mark Cuban met with reporters after his Mavs were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2010 NBA playoffs and, despite another disappointing early exit, the outspoken Mavericks owner remained optimistic that his team will make another run next season with the current group he has assembled.
“Let me just say, congratulations to the Spurs. They played a great series. George Hill emerged as a star and really was a difference-maker. They deserved to win. They’re a Texas team, so I guess I’ll be rooting for them the rest of the way,” Cuban said about his division rival, who became the first seventh-seeded team to move past the opening round since the NBA adopted the seven-game format for the first round.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks exited the first round for the third time in four years since reaching the NBA Finals in 2006.
“I’m proud of our guys on the way they kept on fighting back,” Cuban said of his team, which got down 22-8 early in the first quarter but rallied. “I’m not so proud of the NBA. I’m not proud of my inability over the last 10 years to have an impact like I wanna have so I kinda feel like I owe fans an apology. That’s just the way this business goes.”
Cuban’s mood lightened up a bit when someone asked him about the performance of rookie guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who showed flashes of brilliance in Game 6 as he scored 16 points in 21 minutes off the bench to provide a spark.
“Obviously he had a big impact on the game,” Cuban said of the player they call Roddy Buckets. “He showed all the things that all the ‘Free Roddy B’ people wanted to see in him, and he did it on a big stage. You look at the series George Hill had last year when he had a little bit of an impact and then this year he just killed us. So hopefully Roddy will look back at this year, where Roddy had a little bit of an impact, and next year he’ll be killing people.”
When a reporter asked Cuban how disappointed he was in losing in the first round to the Spurs again, Cuban fired back with: “It’s been a long time since we lost to the Spurs. So, you wanna ask a better question?”
In Cuban’s defense, the Mavs knocked off the Spurs in the first round last year and took them out as well in 2006, so the notion that the Spurs have the Mavs’ number is slightly off base and you can’t blame Cuban for his defensive response.
Cuban believes the Mavericks can contend for a title with Dirk Nowitzki as their franchise player and Rick Carlisle as the head coach. And a full training camp with midseason acquisitions Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood should improve the team’s on-court chemistry.
“We’ve got a great base,” Cuban said. “I mean, we’ll get a chance to work with each other. You could see some of the uneasiness because we haven’t had a full season to play together and that showed a few times. But we’ll pull all our pieces together and go at them again next year.
“Every year I tell you guys the exact same thing. We’ll be opportunistic and do our very best to put the best team on the court, and that’s never gonna change.”
Cuban also pointed out that only one team will be satisfied come June and everyone else will be searching for answers in the offseason.
“Last time I looked, five teams have won championships out of 30? Like I say every year, there’s one team that wins and 29 teams who tie for last place. You don’t change the way you approach success simply because of the questions.”