Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t an all-time billionaire business tycoon for nothing. He’s known for taking smart chances, being able to connect to people, and having the ability to build something from the ground up.
Cuban told the story during a recent guesting on the Dallas radio show 105.3 The Fan:
“The day [Michael Jordan] signed with the Washington Wizards to come back, [his agent] David Falk said, ‘Why don’t you go meet him? … So I went to David Falk’s office and all the papers were right there, and I was trying to convince MJ to not sign them and to do something with the Mavs.”
Later on the show, the ever aggressive Mavs owner also talked about what he told Jordan in their meeting. Per Tom Huddleston Jr. of CNBC:
“We are going to be better, and I’ll be more creative and aggressive and will do whatever it takes to win.”
Cuban isn’t blowing smoke. At that time, he and the entire Mavs management were doing a great job at developing the team from obscurity. Following the 2000-01 campaign, Dallas was coming off its best season in 13 years and also owned one of the highest-scoring trios in the league – Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki, and Steve Nash.
It’s certainly appealing, but luring Jordan under the circumstances he was in was going to be tough. MJ was fresh-off a stint in the Wizards’ front office and the ownership has given him an extensive control in molding the team prior to coming back as a player. He was not about to tarnish his business reputation that easily.
“He was a man of his word and said he wouldn’t go back on his commitment, so that part of the meeting was very, very, very short.”
The story, however, has led to yet another intriguing “What if?” scenario. What would’ve happened it Michael Jordan formed a Big 4 with the Mavs’ rising core? With MJ notorious for being a really tough leader, would he have hindered Nowitzki and Nash’s development? In hindsight, would it also have been better for Jordan, considering the way he was treated after he retired for the final time?
Also equally interesting is how the much wilder the early 2000s Western Conference would’ve been if Jordan was in the mix. Imagine the rivalry with the Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs, or the dynastic Los Angeles Lakers. We might’ve also seen a couple of playoff series between Jordan and Kobe Bryant.