- Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com
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Fisher signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder in late February, approximately two months after the Mavs granted his request to be released, purportedly because the 17-year veteran missed his family. Cuban was admittedly agitated by Fisher's decision to return to the NBA without at least discussing the situation with him.
While Fisher expressed a fondness for Cuban and others in the Mavs' organization before Sunday night's game at the American Airlines Center, that feeling isn't mutual, at least as far as Cuban is concerned.
"I'll just boo him like hopefully everybody else," Cuban said before the game.
Mavericks fans were on board, too.
They booed Fisher when he entered the game with 1:45 left. They then cheered loudly 10 seconds later when the reserve guard was called for his first foul in Oklahoma City's eventual 107-101 win.
After Fisher signed with the Thunder, Cuban reacted with sarcasm, mockingly saying that Fisher's kids had grown up a lot in 65 days and that it was much easier to fly in and out of Oklahoma City than Dallas. On Sunday night, Cuban directly questioned Fisher's integrity.
"I took the bait," Cuban said.
Cuban said he was particularly perturbed by Fisher's decision to join a contender after quitting on the Mavs because the five-time NBA champion repeatedly reached out to Cuban when Fisher was unemployed at the beginning of the season. He said he offered Fisher personal advice and fell for the point guard's pitch, prompting the Mavs to sign him.
"My personality is to try to help somebody, particularly somebody that I thought one thing about, even if it didn't turn out to be that way," Cuban said. "So I was just trying to be nice and help. Usually when you help somebody, you expect at least some semblance of loyalty back. When you don't get it, then it's more disappointing.
"With his history, I shouldn't have been surprised what happened."
Fisher's release from the Mavs marked the third time since 2007 that he was able to nullify his contract. The Houston Rockets bought out his deal last March after he was traded to Houston from the Lakers. In 2007, Fisher gave up around $8 million from the Utah Jazz to sign with the Lakers so his family could be closer to the doctors who were treating his daughter for a rare form of eye cancer.
The Mavs were 5-4 during Fisher's short Dallas tenure. He averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 assists in 25.4 minutes in those nine games, replacing Darren Collison as the Mavs' starting point guard.
"I love Mark and I have a tremendous amount of respect for what he's done and does in terms of this team," Fisher told the Dallas Morning News after Sunday's shootaround. "There's no question about how passionate he is for his team. If it was my team and I wanted to win, I would want as many players that I felt like could help me.
"I take [Cuban's criticism] more as a positive thing than a negative. He saw some value I provided and would like to still have me here. But as far as long term for me, I don't have any issues with Mark, and hopefully one day, we'll be able to get past this and have much more things to enjoy and laugh about than the short few weeks here."
Cuban agreed that he wouldn't have been as disappointed if Fisher didn't make a significant contribution during his short time with the Mavs.
"He's got a point there," Cuban said. "But that doesn't change what he did and how he did it. It's not so much what he did. It's how he did it."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban vowed to give Derek Fisher a villain's welcome during the 38-year-old point guard's return to Dallas.