MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Team owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Mavericks won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Remember when the Mavericks were really bad? Like, laughably bad? Like, not only making the playoffs once in the '90s and then getting knocked out in the first round bad?
Like ... Cubs-bad?
That changed in 2000, when Mark Cuban bought the team. He took the team from cellar dwellers to NBA champions. The Cubs are under new ownership, too. The Ricketts family has a unique opportunity to learn from Cuban and the Mavs on how to build a championship-caliber team. Though the Cubs are a much older franchise than the Mavericks, they have more championships in the past 100 years than the Cubs, so learn:
Championships aren't quick: The Mavericks spent 10 years in the playoffs before they took home the big, shiny trophy. They lost in every round of the playoffs and went through three coaches before they finally got it right.
Championships aren't bought, but smart spending helps: The Mavericks spent $90 million on their payroll, so they are hardly the tale of an inexpensive team who banded together to win it all. But their use of payroll is much smarter than the Cubs, whose top six in salary are over the age of 30. The Mavs pay Dirk Nowitzki well, but his play justifies his pay. The same cannot be said for Alfonso Soriano.
Championship teams need leadership, both in the front-office and on the team: Cuban isn't perfect, but his players know that he's behind him. Nowitzki took over the series and led his team to a championship just as the respected leader of the team should do. Do the Cubs have that same confidence with Ricketts? Is that leader even on the Cubs roster?
The Cubs have been awful this season, but if there is anything that the Mavs have proved, it's that any team can emerge from the basement of their league.