SAN ANTONIO -- After stewing in a corner room of the losing locker room after a 97-87 loss Thursday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban emerged to congratulate the San Antonio Spurs for winning the series in six games and even said he'd root for the team he said he hated.
He then complimented his team for fighting back from a 22-point deficit to take a brief lead in the third quarter, and then in the same breath he disparaged the NBA in what could only be characterized as passive aggressive criticism of the officiating.
"I'm proud of our guys, the way they kept on fighting back. I'm not so proud of the NBA. I'm not proud of my inability over the last 10 years to have the impact like I want to have, so I kind of feel like I owe fans an apology," Cuban said. "But, that's just the way this business goes. But congratulations to the Spurs."
Asked to elaborate on his NBA comment, Cuban, a longtime critic of the league's officials, declined.
The Mavs fell behind 22-8 after the first quarter. They were whistled for seven fouls and the Spurs for three, while San Antonio attempted six free throws to none for the Mavs, who shot 22.2 percent from the floor in the opening quarter.
At halftime, with San Antonio leading 47-34, the Mavs were called for 16 fouls to seven for the Spurs, and San Antonio attempted 12 more free-throw attempts (18-6).
The Spurs shot 31 free throws and were called for 17 fouls in the game. The Mavericks shot 15 free throws and were whistled for 27 fouls.
Cuban praised the play of rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, who had 16 points in 21 minutes in his first meaningful action of the series.
He also said he will not make rash decisions coming off the disappointment of losing in the first round for the third time in four seasons. For the second time in three seasons, Cuban engineered a blockbuster trade that shook up the roster in mid-Febraury.
"Every year I tell you the exact same thing. We're going to be opportunistic and do our very best to put the best team on the court. It's never going to change," Cuban said.
"The last time I looked, five teams have championships out of 30. I'd say we'll try to go out there and do our best and try not to be reactive like all the media will ask us to be. 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 questions."