You shed tears of joy when they win and tears of anguish when they lose.
You sweat blood watching every inning or quarter.
Besides shelling out thousands to be in the front row of every game, the only thing that will get you closer is actually purchasing your beloved team.
Even for a mild sports enthusiast, owning a sports team is a dream come true. But only a fortunate -- and stupendously wealthy -- few, such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, can say "my team" and mean it literally.
A billionaire entrepreneur, Cuban co-founded MicroSolutions in 1983 and sold it to CompuServe in 1990. He also co-founded Broadcast.com in 1995, selling it to
in 1999 before purchasing the Dallas Mavericks in January 2004 for $285 million.
However, Cuban is no Titus watching the Colosseum from his ivory tower; in fact, he's there yelling courtside at games and frequently answers emails from the team's fans.
But team loyalty aside, what entices team owners to make such a grand (nonrefundable) investment?
found that Cuban's love for the sport of basketball and the game of business is what makes the Mavericks a successful and inspired investment for him.
The Street.com: Before you purchased a majority stake in the Dallas Mavericks from H. Ross Perot in 2000, what gave you the idea to even pursue ownership of a sports team?
: It was at opening night for the
Mavericks '99-'00 season. There was no energy, no excitement in the building.
I thought that I could do a better job and then realized that I could afford to actually put my money where my mouth was and try to buy the team. I hadn't considered it before then.
Why basketball, and more specifically, why the Mavericks?
I've been a basketball junkie as long as I can remember, and the Mavs were my favorite team.
Is there a gross financial risk involved? Would you call team ownership a smart investment?
It's not a bad investment. It has its challenges, primarily due to the dependence on your partners and the league office.
But as you can tell from the rising sales prices, it can be a lucrative investment.
Are the returns more financial or emotional?
I love the challenge of running the Mavs as an operating company, and in providing the best possible entertainment to our fans, but the greatest reward is emotional.
You've had a knack for business success from your teenage years on, including making money off a chain letter you started. How did these early ventures influence your success later?
I learned that customers and sales were the key to the success of any business. There were no shortcuts to making your customers happy. I also learned that business is the most competitive sport on the planet.
There is always someone out there trying to beat you, and if you don't outwork them and love what you do, they will beat you.
You were credited with bringing a "party atmosphere" back to the team when you took over. Would you agree?
Yes. Before I got to the NBA, teams sold basketball as their product.
I recognized that most people came not for the basketball but to get out of the house and have fun with their friends, families, significant others. ... I wanted to offer the best possible experience, and we as an organization have worked hard to do so.
You are well connected to fans through your email and blog. Has this interaction changed how you manage the team?
Yes, I have a continuous focus group that provides me with great ideas and feedback. It makes my job much easier.
What are your future plans for the Mavericks?
To work to improve the fan experience every day and hopefully win some championships. And one more point -- I think the NBA has a bad rap that ticket prices are not affordable for some fans.
To this end, we introduced $2 tickets for 10 games this year and will expand it hopefully to all games next year. We also have $5 single tickets and $10 tickets available to every game. One of my challenges is to change the perception to one of Mavs games being inexpensive.
What would you say to someone interested in purchasing a team?
Make sure you recognize that the team always belongs to the city and the fans -- you are only the trustee.
I've heard rumors about the Chicago Cubs -- are you considering purchasing them or any other sports team?
I'm always interested in iconic teams or teams from my hometown, but it's a "nice to do," not a "have to do."
In your journey from post-college bartender to billionaire, what has influenced you the most, and to what do you attribute your success?
Learning that I loved the sport of business -- that I loved to compete and if I focused on things I loved to do, whether it was technology, programming, marketing, sports, whatever I really enjoyed, then I never felt like I was working.
It's always something that I wanted to do, not wanted to get away from.
As an Ayn Rand enthusiast, I heard you were inspired by
. ... How has the book influenced your business philosophy?
It's helped me recognize that how others feel about you is irrelevant -- that most people are drawn to the common middle ground, but being the one standing away from the pack is a good thing, not a problem.
Do you feel you were blessed with a mind for business?
I think I have been blessed with the ability to learn and the thirst to learn as much as I can.
Any words on Sharesleuth.com, one of your latest ventures, which has been described as an exercise in making online journalism financially viable?
It's working. We publish based on when we find a story worth publishing.
This approach has allowed us to do the depth of research and analysis that also provides an edge in picking stocks ... the combination has been great.
I still have the same positions as documented on the Web site. I haven't traded a share, which is always a good sign.
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