DALLAS — Mark Cuban beamed about forming a “great partnership” hours after the NBA board of governors approved the sale of the controlling interest of the Dallas Mavericks to the families that run the Las Vegas Sands casino company, a deal that will allow Cuban to continue running the franchise’s basketball operations.
The deal was approved Wednesday, just shy of a month after the families of Miriam Adelson and Sivan and Patrick Dumont announced their intention to buy the club. The purchase is at a valuation in excess of $4 billion, sources told ESPN.
“Nothing’s really changed except my bank account,” Cuban said after wrapping up his 3-point shooting session on the American Airlines Court about 2½ hours before Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I feel really good. I think it’s a great partnership. It’s what the team needed on the court and off. I’ll still be overseeing the basketball side of it, but having a partner like Patrick and Sivan and Miriam and their ability to build and to redevelop the arena and whatever comes next beyond that just puts us in a much better position to compete. That’s all. That’s what it comes down to.”
Adelson is the widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Patrick Dumont, Adelson’s son-in-law and president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Sands company, will serve as the Mavericks governor.
“The state of Texas has always been friendly to our family, and we look forward to being able to repay that kindness. I am excited to spend time cheering on the team and getting to meet members of its passionate fan base,” Adelson said in a statement. “Everywhere we have a business presence, our top priority has been to empower our team members and engage with the local community in a meaningful way. I very much look forward to bringing that same commitment to Dallas and the greater DFW area.”
Cuban will maintain a 27% stake of the Mavericks’ ownership and serve as the team’s alternate governor. He acknowledged that there is “no contractual language” in the purchase agreement regarding his authority over basketball operations and that ultimately Dumont would have “final say” as the team’s governor.
However, Cuban’s expectation is the Dumonts and Adelson will focus on the franchise’s business interests, which prominently include a long-term plan of building an arena that would include a resort hotel and casino. Cuban said the arena would be built in the Dallas city limits.
“We look forward to working in partnership with Mark Cuban as stewards of this great franchise and bringing another NBA championship to the city of Dallas,” Patrick Dumont said in a statement. “We are committed to the long-term success of the Mavericks and delivering a world-class hospitality experience for our fans, players, employees, sponsors and partners.”
Cuban does not expect Patrick Dumont to be heavily involved in basketball personnel decisions.
“He basically said, ‘Just do what you got to do. I want to win,'” Cuban said. “I mean, financially, we’re in a far better position this afternoon than we were yesterday afternoon to be able to compete like that. So what did [Houston Rockets owner] Tilman [Fertitta] say about being a middle-class billionaire? Those are facts in this day and age. It really matters. So having the partnership and having eventually new and deeper revenue sources allows us to compete better. I talked to Patrick a lot and Miriam and Sivan, and they’re committed to winning.”
Gambling isn’t legal in Texas, and efforts to legalize it face steep odds. Still, Miriam Adelson has made no secret of her push to bring casino gambling to the Lone Star State.
She pumped more than $2 million last year into a political action committee, called Texas Sands, that donated lavishly to state legislators and swarmed the GOP-controlled Capitol with lobbyists. She gave an additional $1 million separately to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
But the spending blitz failed to deliver a breakthrough this year in the Texas Legislature, where resistance to legalizing casinos runs deep.
Texas already has a billionaire NBA owner who is a casino operator, Fertitta, who also supports bringing casinos to his home state but has watched lawmakers sink the idea year after year.
Cuban said he would be “as active as I need to be” in lobbying to get gambling legalized in the state.
“I think it’s the right thing for the state of Texas,” Cuban said, touting the economic benefits. “Could you imagine building the Venetian in Dallas, Texas? That would be insane. That would just change everything.”
News of the sale of the Mavs broke last month, hours after Las Vegas Sands announced that Adelson was selling $2 billion of her shares to buy an unspecified professional sports team.
Cuban said he could have sold the team for significantly more money, but it was important to him to find partners who could increase the franchise’s revenue base, alluding to the uncertainty of local television deals as a major challenge to his ability to fund a competitive team. Cuban also considers it a must for the majority ownership group to be willing to allow him to continue running basketball operations.
“Because this is what I love to do, but I’m also a realist and I also am self-aware, right?” said Cuban, who has been hands-on with personnel decisions since purchasing the franchise for $285 million in January 2000. “I know what I’m good at. When I first bought the team, I knew more about the technology and the internet and all the streaming and everything than anybody else in the NBA. And so I had a real advantage there. Now all of that, 23, 24 years later, that’s not the advantage anymore. …The advantage is what can you build and where? And you need to have somebody who’s really, really, really good at that. And Patrick and Miriam, they’re the best in the world at what they do — literally around the world. And so when you get a world-class partner who can come in and grow your revenue base, so you’re not dependent on the things that you were in the past, that’s a huge win.
“They’re not basketball people. I’m not real estate people. That’s why I did it. I could have gotten more money selling it to somebody else, even though obviously I’m really excited about everything. But this is a great partnership. I’ve known these guys for a long time. They’re great at the things I’m not good at.”
While the 65-year-old intends to continue to make basketball decisions, the sale comes as he is stepping away from the popular business TV reality show “Shark Tank” after a 16th season next year.
Cuban was a highly visible owner almost from the day he bought the team in 2000. He never hesitated to speak his mind, for many years meeting with reporters while he worked out on an exercise machine before most home games.
The NBA has fined Cuban millions through the years, often for his criticism of officiating but more recently for comments about tanking for draft picks.
Dallas was one of the worst franchises in pro sports in the 1990s but turned into one of the best under Cuban, with a lot of help from star forward Dirk Nowitzki — now a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and the leader of the team that won the 2011 NBA championship.
A self-professed basketball junkie who graduated from Indiana University, Cuban is almost always courtside for Mavericks games. That will continue, while Cuban anticipates that Adelson and the Dumonts will occasionally attend games but not be nearly as visible as him.
“They’re not going to be here screaming,” Cuban said. “That’s not them at all. That’s why it’s a good partnership. They’re not me, and I’m not them.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.