HOUSTON – Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Dwight Howard had a brief, cordial conversation when the Houston Rockets center arrived at the Toyota Center on Friday, a day after Cuban said Howard made a "mistake in judgment" by not deciding to sign with Dallas this summer.
Cuban said he told Howard that his comments Thursday weren't anything personal but that he considers anyone who turns down an opportunity to play for the Mavs to be "an idiot."
"I said I wasn't picking on him, but it's just common sense," Cuban said. "I think anybody who doesn't come to the Mavs is making a mistake, an error in judgment. Only I used stronger words. I told him anybody who doesn't come [to Dallas] is an idiot, and if I didn't say that, I'd be an idiot. Because that's the reality.
"Whether you're buying a product from one of my companies or making a deal with me instead of somebody else in 'Shark Tank,' if I don't have the confidence of our product to think that you're making a mistake if you don't do business with me, then it's on me. I always feel that way. I don't know if he understood, but that's the reality. If you're a free agent and you pick somewhere else, you made a mistake in judgment."
"You know, what can I say? It was still a horrible mistake," Cuban said, laughing. "He could have had three [titles]."
Cuban, who had long-running verbal sparring matches with former Los Angeles Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal and coach Phil Jackson, admitted he also made the original comments about Howard because he knew they'd provoke a reaction. He seemed a bit disappointed that Howard had yet to publicly offer a retort, joking that he needed "a new bucket boy," a term he somewhat endearingly used to call Jackson.
"I always like to have people to mess with," Cuban said. "I throw out a few jabs every now and then to have fun. You know, wins and losses are serious, but this is still fun and I'm going to have fun. And if you guys don't like it, that's your problem.
"The back and forth is the best. Shaq was good. Phil Jackson was great because he's smart. You get somebody like that who's witty, then it becomes a challenge and it's fun. Stuff like that, it's fun. It's kind of public battles, little rap battles."