Ever since Mark Cuban bought the Dallas Mavericks back in 2000, the story has gone that you might hate his antics, but his players love playing for him. The private jets, the swanky locker rooms, the jerseys designed by P. Diddy for some reason — all of it was a way to show Cuban that he cared about his players and wanted them to only have to worry about basketball. Besides, all that yelling from the stands just showed how much he loved his team.

But this year’s Mark Cuban is a little different. He’s been quiet, for the most part, even when his team swept Phil Jackson out of the playoffs. Other than saying he wishes Phil wouldn’t retire, he’s kept his mouth shut, which is pretty unusual. And if you ask Dirk Nowitzki, pretty great. From the Star-Telegram:

“Yeah, it should be about the players and not the owner,” Nowitzki said. “We played a great series. We fought hard and battled. That was fun. I haven’t seen Mark since then, and that’s probably a good thing.” [...]

“He is still fired up,” Nowitzki said. “He is still such a huge fan. He is still in it with his heart. He is positive. Sometimes he yells. He picks his spots better.

“He is not as hands-on as he once was. He is still hands-on for an owner but not as hands-on as he used to be.”

Nowitzki said Cuban’s family life probably has a lot do with his change since he became a father.

“Family does that to you,” Nowitzki said. “He is not at every practice anymore. He used to be at all the practices. He used to go on every road trip. He is not on every trip anymore. The kids and the family have definitely slowed him down a little bit.”

This is probably good. Not only does less Mark Cuban make the Mavericks a thousand times more likable, it also probably helps that referees don’t have a guy affiliated with the team screaming at them for two-and-a-half hours each night. It’s one thing when fans do it, but refs will hold it against the Mavs when it’s Mark Cuban doing the yelling. At least that’s what he’ll tell you.

It’s also kind of funny that Dirk says “it’s a good thing” that he hasn’t seen Cuban since the Lakers series. He sounds like a son who’s embarrassed that his dad is cursing at an ump from the stands during his Little League game. “Dad, will you be quiet, PLEASE? Ugh. You always do this.” All the twist cones dipped in candy crunch in the world can’t ease that pain.

(via PBT)