The quirky Dallas Mavs owner and HDTV pioneer (and fellow Hoosier) gives a freewheeling interview in this month's issue to Deadspin editor Will Leitch. Worthy excerpts:
When the scandal over referee gambling broke, everyone came to you, since you've always been so vocal in criticizing the referees. They were expecting you to say, "See, I knew this was happening." And you didn't. Why not?
Well, I did know it was happening, but what was the point? If you've been saying it all along, there's no point in repeating it. I mean, look at the way the media handled Barry Bonds. They never pay attention to the fact that no one in government ever gets fired for trying to put a skin on the wall. They'll only get promoted—other than Nifong from Duke.
Nifong was an extreme case.
It wasn't an extreme case. He was just stupid enough to drive it in the media with his own name. You don't know the guys behind the Barry Bonds investigation. You don't know that someone's not saying, "If I can only get Barry Bonds, I'll be the stud in this government office." Barry Bonds can't sue the person who's trying to make him a poster child. To spend however many years of government money to prove something that happened four years ago—what does it accomplish for the American people?
It sounds like you're taking this personally.
Well, I'm a target, too. Like Barry Bonds. The most disgusting thing in the world is how much money I pay to lawyers. I get audited every year, and if you saw some of the things that the IRS said to me, you would think we're living in a Communist country. I even had someone who worked for a government agency accuse me of throwing the playoff series with the Warriors last year. It's ridiculous. I can afford it, so it's okay, but it's kind of sad.
Do you consider yourself libertarian?
I take it you're supporting Ron Paul, then.
No. I just don't think he's a legitimate candidate at this point in time. It's interesting and fun to watch the Internet support he gets, and I like conceptually a lot of the things he says, but I wouldn't vote for him.
I like this, too:
What do you think about college sports? You're a Big Ten alum, yes? Any plans to do something for Indiana?
People always ask me if I'm going to be building a new assembly hall for them, and the answer is: No chance. Of all the places you can put your money, it's not the most effective place. I'm a huge IU basketball fan, but I'm also a critic of the NCAA student-athlete hypocrisy. If I had my druthers, I'd find four colleges and create a conference that's sort of a Juilliard for sports. I'd say, "Okay, Indiana, North Carolina, Duke, and SMU: I'm going to give all your programs $100 million, plus $25 million a year to withdraw from the NCAA, and we're going to pay athletes to play for these schools. We're going to call it NBA 101; we're going to bring in the best coaches. We're going to emulate the best music schools across the world and apply it to what athletes want to do." It'd be just like now, how you can go to IU to be the best musician you can be, and if you want to work for the New York Philharmonic in the summer and get paid for it, you can.
I think it'd be an even better idea for football.
It's probably appropriate that Leitch asked Cuban about Ron Paul. There are some similarities. Both are generally forces for good, with some occasional eccentricities and bouts of nuttiness. But I'd be quite happy with more politicians like Paul, and more tycoons like Cuban.