Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been a frequent critic of Donald Trump for close to a year, regularly calling out the onetime candidate and current president’s lack of leadership, poor focus, and discriminatory attitudes (though rarely the economic policies that benefit him most). While Cuban has praised NBA players and coaches for speaking out against Trump, his comments feel different than those of Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr. He’s offering his thoughts with no media prompting on a regular basis as an ostensible peer of Trump in the business world. There’s something altogether more personal about it.
Trump, for his part, has been unable to contain himself and lashed out at Cuban on Sunday with a tweet claiming “he’s not smart enough to run for president.” Cuban opted to take his revenge on Friday night in a very public forum — the NBA’s All-Star Celebrity Game in New Orleans. He responded to the 45th president with his jersey number:
Source says Mark Cuban to wear 46 in Celebrity Game in response to President Trump tweeting he's "not smart enough to run for president!"
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) February 17, 2017
— Earl K. Sneed (@EarlKSneed) February 17, 2017
ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth asked Cuban about his choice of number, but the Mavs boss smiled and deflected the question by saying he wanted No. 23 and had to settle for its double (even though his supposed favorite wasn’t taken). No one seemed to buy that explanation, but Hubbarth did not press the point. Maybe her producers wanted to avoid a repeat of Celebrity Game MVP Win Butler’s political statement at last year’s event in Toronto.
Cuban added more after the game. From Youngmisuk again for ESPN.com:
He later said with a smile that the number choice was “to tweak the s— out of everybody.”
“It was just to f— with everybody, because that is what I do,” he said. “You’ve got to have fun with it. You can’t take it too seriously. So we’ll see.” […]
Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, who played on the East celebrity squad, said he knew why Cuban chose to wear No. 46.
“I think Mark did it [as], you know, it’s a statement,” he said.
Yep, that’s how everyone knows Mark Cuban — billionaire entrepreneur, outspoken owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and notorious mindf—–. When Cubes comes to town, expect to get your s— tweaked!
Cuban also did not attempt to draw attention to his jersey during the game itself, a typically ragged show with a mercifully running clock. Basketball impersonator and YouTube sensation Brandon Armstrong won the game’s MVP award for the East squad, which rolled to an easy win.
It’s a safe bet that Cuban will find another way to speak out against Trump soon enough. Regardless, his Celebrity Game jersey might be the only Trump-related basketball uniform we see for some time. This season’s NBA champions could well go the way of many New England Patriots and decline an invitation to his White House.
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