- Associated Press - Sunday, May 29, 2011

DALLAS (AP) - Mark Cuban’s quiet time continues.

Now that they’ve gotten used to it, the Dallas Mavericks kind of like it this way.

“It’s fine with me,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “It should be all about the players.”

The Mavs have roared into the NBA finals with Cuban taking the traditional, low-profile role of most team owners. Of course, Cuban has never been like most team owners, making himself part of the story pretty much from the day he went from buying season tickets to buying the club.

He’s racked up more than $1 million in fines over his 11-year tenure, mostly for outspoken comments _ like berating the officials during the 2006 NBA finals in Miami, where his team returns for Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark’s a smart guy, one of the smartest I’ve ever been around,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “Like all of us, he has great humility and respect for the position that we’re in right now. We’re all doing everything we can to put ourselves in the best possible position to do well.”

Cuban’s silence began after Dallas won its first-round series against Portland. The Mavs are 9-1 since, so why mess with a good thing?

Mark is a very vocal guy,” Jason Kidd said. “He’s going to say what he wants to say at the right time, but I think he’s been a little been quiet during this playoff run.”

Just to be clear, this is only a media silence. He chitchats with reporters, but has made only a few innocuous comments on the record. He has also remained active on Twitter, tweeting “Go Mavs” a few hours before every game. He may have even fired off a few e-mails to David Stern.

The emphasis is that Cuban is avoiding the spotlight. The only exception was to accept the Western Conference trophy. His mainly thanked the crowd, then offered up the rallying cry, “We ain’t done yet.”

Cuban refuses to explain why he’s taken this tact. If anyone in the organization knows the story, they’re not saying.

Heat forward Udonis Haslem, one of two holdovers from the ‘06 Miami team, offered his speculation: “It’s five years ago and he’s probably learned from that experience. He’s moved on and he just wants this team to have the best opportunity to win.”


SPO’S POPULARITY: The Heat broadcast department has been running live pregame, halftime and postgame shows on the team’s official website during the playoffs, generating about 500,000 distinct hits so far and with growing numbers as the playoffs go deeper.

Most of those hits come from the United States, of course.

The nation logging on to Heat.com second-most? The Philippines.

That might sound surprising at first, but there’s a very good reason for Filipino interest.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is extremely proud of his Filipino heritage, and has a huge following in his mother’s homeland. He visited there in July 2009 _ his first trip there since being a toddler _ and plans to go back sometime this summer.

Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom rank third, fourth and fifth as far as international clickers onto the Heat webcasts. Germany is sixth _ a number that might rise during these finals, given the immense popularity of Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki in his homeland.


ONCE UPON A TIME: On Memorial Day weekend 25 years ago, Mavs star Rick Carlisle was involved in another NBA finals as a backup guard on the Boston Celtics.

With Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish at their best, and Bill Walton contributing off the bench, the 1985-86 Celtics went 67-15 in the regular season. They lost just one game on their way to the finals against the Houston Rockets. They went up 2-0, dropped two in Houston, then closed the series with a victory on the parquet floor of the Boston Garden.

“That was a special team, one of the greatest teams ever,” Carlisle said Sunday. “The magnitude of our star power was phenomenal.”

And what about Carlisle, who averaged 2.6 points in about 10 minutes per game?

“In terms of my career, I played more games and more minutes that year than any other year, so I was proud of that,” said Carlisle, who also had the lone start of his career that season. Carlisle still has his championship ring. His 6-year-old daughter asked recently to see it, so he gave her a peek.

“She asked if she could bring it in to show and tell,” Carlisle said, smiling. “We talked through that, and it’s back where it was.”


BOSH’S HOME: Heat forward Chris Bosh was asked how “perfect” it was that his first NBA finals trip comes against Dallas, the team from his hometown.

Bosh was mildly amused by the question.

“I wouldn’t say it’s perfect,” Bosh said. “It brings some elements to it that normally wouldn’t be there, so I have to do a good job to focus and play basketball. I’m keeping that in mind. I’m being ready for anything, really.”

Some members of Bosh’s family still call the Dallas area home. But facing the Mavericks hasn’t been easy for Bosh: His teams have gone 3-13 in his 16 appearances against his hometown team.


T.J.’S TIME? The last time Jason Kidd was in the NBA finals, he often brought his 4-year-old son T.J. to postgame news conferences.

That was in 2003. Eight years later, T.J. is almost as big as his dad. At practice Sunday, he and Shawn Marion put their feet side by side to see who wore bigger shoes.

T.J. was visiting his dad in Dallas for the holiday weekend. He won’t be going to Miami, no matter how badly he wants to.

As Kidd headed to the locker room Sunday, he talked about spending time with T.J., then looked back at him on the court, smiled and said, “It’s good for him to get some work in.” Then Kidd was told that T.J. wanted to wager a 3-pointer on whether he could go to Miami.

“That ain’t gonna happen,” Kidd said, walking into the locker room without clarifying whether he meant the shot going in, or the arrangements to get his son to Miami.

Just then, the net made a ripping sound. T.J. nailed a 3 from the left corner.


AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed.

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