Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has a lot of money. Unless you're one of the 545 people in the world ahead of him on Forbes' "The World's Billionaires List," he has more money than you.
But Cuban has a message to those below him on the financial totem pole. When it comes to being a fan, he is just like anyone else.
Cuban does not spend Mavericks games tucked away in a skybox sipping martinis in a suit with other members of corporate America. He has made it a point in his 12-plus years as an NBA owner to sit with the people. Cuban typically attends Dallas games in a courtside seat wearing a Mavs T-shirt and jeans.
"I've been a Mavs fan, a sports fan, my entire life," says Cuban, whose net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion. "I just didn't think that because I bought the team I should change who I am or change how I act."
Cuban resonates with fans for a variety of reasons. His clothing and seats of choice are two ways he connects with the crowd, but he has one other recognizable trait fans relate to: His emotion.
Cuban is one of only a handful of owners in the history of sports (Jerry Jones and the late George Steinbrenner are two prominent others) who puts his passion on display in front of his team, the fans and the media.
"I'm crazy at a Mavs game now," he says. "You should have seen what I was like before I bought the team. I was out of mind. The whole logic, I guess if you want to call it that, is what's the beauty of going to a sporting event or watching a sporting event. It's one of the few times we get to let out all of our aggression, so during the game, you can see me getting all wild, involved in the game and all excitable."
Away from arenas and stadiums, Cuban insists he does not live with the same emotion he exemplifies courtside. While the public image may be of Cuban as a wild man, he says he is a tame person.
"We lose, it might take me a little bit of time to calm down," he says. "If we win, might take me a little bit of time to calm down, but once that's past, then it's past. Outside of the games, you're going to find me pretty mellow and laid back."
Beyond the Mavericks, Cuban is a junkie of other major sports. A Pittsburgh native, Cuban sticks to his Steelers, Pirates and Penguins allegiances. After living in Dallas for most of his adult life, he has also adopted the Cowboys, Rangers and Stars.
"I'm hardcore sports across the board," Cuban says. "I love to watch. I love to go to games. None of them compare to the Mavs obviously."
Because he is a native of one city and a long-time resident of another, even the most die-hard sports fans might be willing to accept his split loyalties. But Cuban's father does not fit that list. He still bleeds black and yellow and does not show any signs of changing.
"My dad's 86 years old and he just doesn't like the idea I could root for a Dallas team against a Pittsburgh team," Cuban says. "Fortunately, Pittsburgh doesn't have an NBA team, so I'm safe there."
Another way Cuban connects with fans and his players is through his feelings on the media. Cuban is never afraid to speak his mind to the press. An example of this came on the morning after Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June when Cuban appeared on ESPN's First Take. While sitting next to the notoriously outspoken Skip Bayless, Cuban did not hold back his feelings about the journalist's credibility. Cuban attacked him for a lack of facts in his reporting, putting Bayless on the defensive. The Bayless bombardment was seen as a long overdue action that needed to be taken by someone with power in the sports world.
Cuban has an idea of why the sports media world makes accusations without a proper factual basis. The culprit: Twitter.
"I think it really has become an outlet for fans who are very, very vocal and emotional and excited and it's really, really easy to have Twitter courage," Cuban says. "A lot of people go on Twitter and explain whatever it is they want to explain with 140 characters and I think media look to fan responses there and to a less extent as other social media and takes it as gospel and I think that's far from the truth."
Cuban believes sportswriters do not have the proper sample size of fans when using Twitter as a gauge. Although the Twitter world has grown rapidly the past three years, the vast majority of American sports fans are still living without it.
"We make a huge mistake in media of looking at Twitter as the barometer for the typical fan when it's not. I think 7 percent of the U.S. is on Twitter ... ," he says. "I think more fans are disconnected from Twitter and just into their teams and enjoy going to the games and enjoy rooting for their teams because it's fun."
Cuban will be looking to make Mavericks fans, himself included, happy when the 2012-13 NBA season rolls around in a couple months. He feels the team has brought in a good group of additions, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and Darren Collison to name a few, who can help Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs contend for a second NBA title in three years.
The owner's strategy is as simple as it comes: "Hopefully we'll score more points than the other team."
Cuban does not like to predictions about his team and would not make any guarantees. He sticks to the old, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset.
"All what we try to do here at the Mavericks is put together a great organization and the best players possible and see what happens," he says. "For the last 12 years, going on 13 years that I've been here, it's turned out pretty well, so hopefully we'll continue this season."
One thing is for certain in the upcoming season: Cuban will don his signature T-shirt and jeans wardrobe at the American Airlines Center while putting on a show of emotions.
And Mavericks fans will love it.