Once upon a time, the Dallas Mavericks choked away an NBA championship then lost a first round series to an eight seed the following year. Because of these two tragic missteps, the Mavs got a reputation as chokers, the kind of bros who might be good enough to get close to a title, only to find a way to blow it.
And, like it or not, Mark Cuban couldn’t help thinking about that as the clock ticked down in Game 6 of the 2011 Finals. From his blog:
I refused to let myself think we were going to win. I refused to get ahead of the game. Too many times I had seen games get away from our team. Too many times I had seen our team snatch away what the other side thought was a sure win. We had come from way behind to win games in every series in this playoff run. If we could do it to them, they could do it to us. In my mind, if I even began to think that a win was a certainty, I would jinx us.
Classic strat right there, refusing to let yourself feel something was real until it was really real. “I’ll believe it when I see it,” basically. Seems to have worked too, since the Mavericks didn’t blow their Game 6 lead, obviously because Mark Cuban intentionally didn’t think about the Mavericks winning the game.
People say Cuban runs a team the way any fan would run a team, and this is the sort of thing that makes that even more true. He cares so much that he allowed himself to believe that what he was thinking about had an effect on the outcome of the game, and that’s pretty fan-ish, if you ask me.
Judging by his propensity for superstition, I’d guess that Cuban probably didn’t change his underwear at all while the Mavs won the last three games of the series. As any fan knows, lucky undies always come through in the clutch.