Mark Cuban recruited LeBron James
DALLAS -- Mark Cuban doesn't take losing too well.
That's why a big part of the outspoken and controversial Dallas Mavericks owner still burns a bit inside when he thinks about the opportunity LeBron James passed up in Dallas during free agency last summer to instead sign with the Miami Heat.
Cuban said he desperately tried to recruit James and his business manager, Maverick Carter, through a series of text messages after the July 1 start of free agency. Cuban tried to convince James he would be closer to winning a championship with the Mavericks than with the Heat.
"Before he made his decision, what I told [James] ... and what I told Maverick was no team had ever blown up their team to ground zero -- well, I shouldn't use those words -- blown their team up of all of their core, and then added a couple of free agents and won a championship," Cuban said before the Mavs beat the Heat106-95 on Saturday at American Airlines Center. "It's always taken someone to come into a good team, make it better, and put it over the top. That's what I told him, and that's what I told Maverick."
Cuban had envisioned James playing with perennial All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd and surrounding them with one of the league's deepest supporting casts. Cuban was comparing the Mavericks' situation with that of the Heat, which stripped their roster down to reserve guard Mario Chalmers before reloading with James, re-signing Dwyane Wade and adding Chris Bosh.
The Heat have struggled this season while the Mavericks have gotten off to one of the league's more impressive starts, with victories against San Antonio and New Orleans. Cuban said he was not certain if James would eventually regret his decision.
James said Cuban was "a very sly guy" when he was informed before the game that the Mavericks owner had gone public with their text exchanges from the summer. James never had an official recruiting visit with Dallas, although he met with the Heat, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
"This is definitely one of the teams I looked at, being a veteran ballclub, they got a lot of winners on their team," James said of the Mavericks. "But you guys know where I ended up at. Mark is a very sly guy, man. He wants to win. He does what's best for his team, and he's very passionate about it."
Michael Wallace covers the Miami Heat for ESPN.com.