Phil Jackson: Mark Cuban cost Mavs
DALLAS -- Phil Jackson was asked by a Los Angeles reporter Saturday if the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks meet in the playoffs for the first time in Jackson's L.A. tenure, would he be concerned that vocal Mavs owner Mark Cuban could work over the refs and give his club an edge with the whistles if the Mavs have the home-court advantage?
Jackson said while Cuban has toned down over the years, he believes the outspoken owner's criticism of referees might have cost the Mavericks the 2006 NBA Finals against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
"That Miami Finals really was a tough one to swallow," Jackson said before the Lakers won 96-91 on Saturday night in Dallas. "I think Wade averaged about 25 foul shots a game. You couldn't even touch him. That was really tough to swallow and I think he understood there's kind of a pecking order in this league and you keep your mouth shut at times.''
By pecking order, Jackson meant coaches can bark at officials from the sideline, but ownership sniping from the courtside seats doesn't help the cause.
In that series, Cuban was fined $250,000 by the league for his Game 5 outburst. He was cited for "several acts of misconduct" committed after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime. Furious with several calls, Cuban went onto the floor to vent directly to official Joe DeRosa, then stared in the direction of commissioner David Stern and a group of league officials in the stands. Talking to the media afterward, he wasn't shy with the profanity.
Miami won the championship in six games after Dallas had a 2-0 series lead.
Cuban wasn't biting back Saturday night when told of Jackson's comments.
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"I got the point, but I already got fined for that. I'm not going to touch it again," Cuban said. "My opinion hasn't changed on that series and it never will, nor will the facts."
Asked if his handling of that situation might be different today as opposed to five years ago, Cuban said, "Answering that requires me to get fined."
The Jackson and Cuban shenanigans didn't end there as the two traded more barbs:
• Jackson said he'll miss Cuban when he's done coaching after this season. Cuban said: "I told him him and Jeanie [Buss] can come over for popcorn and movies."
• Jackson said he'd like to join Cuban and Charlie Sheen (Cuban has engaged Sheen about doing a show on his HDNet cable network). He said: "I'd like to introduce the movies or something like that. ... I'm all about musicals."
Cuban responded: "'Two Men and a 7-footer?' Phil can be fun, you know. We'll just have Phil in a corner going, 'Winning!'"
• Jackson was also asked what Cuban could do as owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers: "I think that he lost out on his bid with the Cubs and I think he would have an impact in baseball like he does here," Jackson said. "I think the owners in baseball are a little afraid of him, though. They don't want him in there."
"Well, he's a Maverick," Jackson said.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavs for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.