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Mavericks Owner Fined $250K

The NBA tried ruining Mark Cuban's first anniversary as owner of the Dallas Mavericks by fining him $250,000 Thursday for taunting officials and practically daring the league to punish him.

But Cuban won't even allow one of the largest fines in league history to spoil his fun.

"I think it's great," he said. "There is no way we could spend $250,000 to get this type of promotion for the Mavs.

"The articles will be mostly the same: `Mark Cuban was fined again, crazy guy, but the Mavs are playing well and are in the playoff hunt.' And tons of people will buy Mavs merchandise and more will come to the games just like the last time I was fined."

In a one-sentence statement, the NBA said only that the dot-com billionaire was being punished "for his outbursts and actions concerning game officials" following Dallas' 107-104 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night.

While the fine is nowhere near the $3.5 million levied against the Minnesota Timberwolves for their secret deal with Joe Smith, it's a huge amount for this type of behavior.

Dennis Rodman, a former Cuban employee, was fined a total of $193,500 in his rambunctious career, the most being $50,000 for disparaging the Mormon religion. Charles Barkley's biggest hit was $20,000.

Cuban was socked not because he can afford it, but because he's a repeat offender.

This is the fourth time this season he's been punished for the same thing. The previous fines came in an eight-day span in November and totaled $45,000. His total tab of $295,000 comes out to more than $800 for every day he's owned the team.

Cuban said he won't appeal. He also hinted that he might not stop.

"I haven't received a negative e-mail yet from fans, and that is what matters most," he said.

In his latest scrape, Cuban was irate that goaltending was not called against the Pistons after a missed shot by Dallas' Steve Nash that would have tied the game at 106. A replay showed that a Detroit player's hand touched the rim with the ball in the air.

Cuban had the replay frozen on the JumboTron and brought together photographers to take pictures of it.

"The refs were pitiful tonight and I don't care if I get fined," Cuban said afterward. "We're going to find out what the rules are and protest the game."

He also accused official Tommy Nunez of trying "to take over the game."

"If a guy can't look at a replay and see it was goaltending, that's ridiculous," he said.

Team captain Michael Finley said officials told him goaltending was not called because the shot had no chance of going in.

About 1 1/2 hours after the NBA announced the fine, the Mavericks followed through on Cuban's plan to protest against the non-call.

Cuban, who became a billionaire in 1999 when the company he co-founded, Broadcast.com, was bought by Yahoo!, has said the league needs to monitor officials better. He claims to have charts showing how his team has been treated unfairly.

Fearing more retribution against his team, Cuban promised to clean up his act after his third fine.

He left a road trip then began sitting in the upper deck for home games, at first saying it was to avoid getting into trouble then keeping it up because he enjoyed it.

Cuban went from season-ticket holder to owner exactly a year ago Thursday when he agreed to buy the team from Ross Perot Jr. He was approved several months later although some owners were wary of his involvement, which includes working out with the team and traveling with them.

Cuban has lavished players with electronics-filled lockers, ultra-soft towels and even custom-made courtside chairs. He's redesigned the team's logo and thrown in the maximum $3 million to complete trades.

His most radical move was signing Rodman and letting him live in the guest house of the owner's home. The league nixed that arrangement and Rodman was released after 29 days, two ejections, one suspension and $13,500 in fines.

His energy and enthusiasm have helped revive one of the league's most dreadful teams and made him a local celebrity.

He's further endeared himself to fans by absorbing all service charges and handling fees on tickets, and by buying tickets for any fans who travel to road games and paint their faces with the team's colors.

©2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed