LOS ANGELES -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban downplayed the developing rivalry between his franchise and the Los Angeles Clippers before the first game between the teams since the free-agency saga featuring center DeAndre Jordan.
There have been many words exchanged via the media since Jordan reneged on a commitment to the Mavs and re-signed with the Clippers, including between Cuban and Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers. However, Cuban implied Thursday that the Clippers aren't a relevant enough franchise to be considered one of the Mavs' chief rivals.
"Look, the Clippers are the Clippers," Cuban said while surrounded by media on the Staples Center sideline before the game. "You can change the players, you can change the owner, but the Clippers are who they've been for the last 30 years.
"I mean, I don't hate the Clippers. That's a strong word. I don't hate anybody on the Clippers. I pretty much hate anybody who doesn't have Mavericks or Dallas across their chest, but again, I just don't give a s--- about the Clippers. Maybe that explains it."
The Clippers proceeded to rout the Mavs 104-88, with Jordan, the source of much of the animosity, recording six points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. He also picked up a technical foul after tangling with Dirk Nowitzki. The teams combined for four technicals and a series of hard personal fouls, and trash talk was abundant on the court and from both benches.
"It's definitely an emotional game," said Jordan, who declined to address the Dallas debacle directly. "The emotions were high obviously because it was our home opener. We wanted to give the fans what they missed."
Cuban said pregame that he hasn't communicated with Jordan since July 9, a day before the center ignored repeated attempts by the Mavericks owner to reach out to him and then re-signed with the Clippers, who sent a contingent to his house in Houston.
"I haven't said a word to him, haven't heard a word from him," said Cuban, who first joked that he didn't know who Jordan was. "I mean, no good reason to. If it wasn't going to happen then, there's no reason for it to happen later."
Nowitzki said after the loss that he still is surprised by the decision made by Jordan, who abruptly stopped texting with the German star during the process.
"I think we were disappointed, but we still have to move on as a franchise, and that's what we did," Nowitzki said. "That happens in free agency sometimes."
For his part, Rivers responded sarcastically postgame when asked about Cuban's comments, saying, "That's so hurtful."
The Clippers were long an NBA laughingstock and Los Angeles afterthoughts under owner Donald Sterling, whose tenure ended in controversy two seasons ago after tapes were released of him making racist comments, when the league forced him to sell the team to Steve Ballmer. The franchise won only one playoff series in 33 years after moving from Buffalo to San Diego in 1978 and then relocating to Los Angeles in 1984.
There was a 14-year span in which the Clippers made the playoffs once before trading for Chris Paul in 2011. The Clippers have made the playoffs all four seasons since, advancing to the Western Conference semifinals three times but never to the conference finals.
The Clippers, with a core of Paul, Jordan and Blake Griffin, are considered among a handful of contenders to win the West this season, while most projections have the Mavs missing the playoffs. But Cuban, whose franchise won the 2010-11 championship and has made the playoffs in 14 of the 15 full seasons he has owned the team, speaks of the Clippers in a dismissive tone.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.