Even though he’s been in the public spotlight for more than a decade and a half, Mark Cuban remains one of the most fascinating figures in all of professional sports. Between his bravado, sideline demeanor and regular appearances on “Shark Tank,” there isn’t any owner who creates more interest or (in some circles) vitriol, than Cuban.
But what’s it like to actually work for him? It may seem difficult on the surface, but it’s actually the exact opposite, at least according to someone who knows him well.
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That man is current Alabama and former Dallas Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson, who joined “The Sidelines Podcast” with FS1 college basketball insider Evan Daniels earlier this week. Evan asked Johnson whether working for a hands-on owner like Cuban makes life easier or harder for a coach, and Johnson gave a surprising answer (which can be heard in its entirety above).
“Oh, easier,” Johnson said. “I would work for Mark Cuban any day of the week and twice on Sunday. He’s such an incredible owner and the way he positioned us and gave us everything we needed to win in terms of how we traveled, facilities. Nothing was really off-limits. He allowed me to grow as a coach, to experiment. We met and talked all the time, not just about coaching, but managing people.
“When I always tell him he’s one of the best owners in professional sports, he always jokes with me, ‘One of? What about the best?’”
That’s some incredible praise from Johnson, and if there’s anyone who would know, it’s him. Remember, long before his coaching days, Johnson was a player, playing for six organizations overall, including with the Mavs. He also coached in Brooklyn and has seen that not every owner provides all the resources for a coach that Cuban does.
Johnson also explained the value of having a hands-on owner and the impact it can have on players.
“He’s just a great guy. I had a lot of fun with Mark. We still have a great relationship and people say, ‘Well how you can a great relationship with Mark? He fired you.’ And I say ‘Yeah, but he hired me. And I’m focused more on the hired part.’
And my experience with Mark, owning the team, compared to the other situation I had [while I was coaching] the Nets was just different. He was always around, very hands on, and the players were always going to respect the coach because he demanded they respect the coach. And that was pretty comforting for me, and allowed me to do my job and maximize my potential as a coach.”
Overall, this was just one fascinating nugget in the interview with Johnson. The two discussed Johnson’s playing career, and what it was like suiting up alongside Tim Duncan and David Robinson. He also gave details about courting LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in free agency and how it is similar to the recruiting process in college. And finally, the Alabama coach expanded on his incredible 2017 recruiting class, which includes five-star prospects Collin Sexton and John Petty.
The interview with Johnson is also just the latest on ‘The Sidelines Podcast’ as Evan welcomes some of the biggest names in the sport of basketball. Previous guests include Duke Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, Jay Wright and former NBA All-Star turned Grand Canyon coach Dan Majerle. To listen to all previous episodes click here.
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