Sitting in the back booth of the Montana Galley, nursing my usual afternoon glass of buttermilk, I spin my iPhone on the table. I have to make a decision. Should I call Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks?
Will he even take my call? TV says the guy's a Billionaire. Hey, who am I to say he isn't. But if he hasn't heard about this, I'm sure he'll want to know. I should call.
So I do.
"Mr. Cuban's Office. Press 1, if you're calling about Season Mav Tickets. Press 2, if you have a super profitable business and you'd like to be featured on Shark Tank. Press 3, if you'd like to find the nearest ultra stylish Sketchers Shoe Store. Press 4, if you'd like to say something real nice about Mr. Cuban. Otherwise hold on for the next available operator."
I get Corporate not Personal. Be nice to schmooze with him poolside, maybe over cocktails, much more comfortable, but I guess not. Then again this is Mark Cuban.
"Mark Cuban's office. How can I help you?" Her voice is maple syrup, with just a touch of jalapeno.
"Hi," I say. "My name is Brentwood Belair. I've got some very important information..."
"Well, Mr Cuban is in a meeting right now. Give me your number..."
(Being forceful), "I could put this in writing," I say, "but every second we let this continue...it would be ...
"...Like I say Mr Cuban is in a..."
"...an unmitigated disaster. It has to do with Mikhail Prokhorov."
"The Russian?" she says.
"The owner of the New York Nets. They're the Brooklyn Nets, sort of, now."
"You say the Russian?"
(Not taking a breath), "And as you well know, Mr. Prokhorov and Mr. Cuban are like the Hatfields and the McCoys. He would be tragically disappointed. Give me five minutes?"
"The Russian, huh? Hold on. Be right back."
It was in the NY Daily News. Mikhail said he is ready for a 'throwdown' with Cuban over the free agency of Deron Williams. 'Let the best [sic] man win,' Prokhorov said. 'If he wins, I will crush him with the kickboxing throwdown.' Guy's treading on thin ice, if he thinks he can...
"Hello, this is Mark. Something about Prokhorov? Who's this?"
"Mr. Cuban. Thanks for leaving your meeting. Brentwood Belair. I'm a Sports Blogger out her in Calif..."
"Yeah, I've heard of you...out there in enemy territory, Clippers, Lakers. So? What's this about Prokhorov? The Crazy Russian. What's he want now? He's threatened to kick my ass. Now what?"
"Well here's the thing," I say. "The other day I was checking facts for a Blog Post about the Jets, and well, I typed in Nets instead. Nets.com, and guess what?"
"The site shows up, and it kinda looks official, but it's your picture on the home page. And it's not all that flattering a picture, you ask me."
"Wait...What did you do? Type in...Hold on, let me do this...My picture? Okay, NETS.com...?"
His voice jumps three octaves. "What the hell is this? Prokhorov? No, no, this isn't right. My picture on the Nets web site? I'm going to sue the son of a bitch. I can't believe this."
"Well, that's not the half of it, Mark."
"I'll sue him for everything he's got. He thinks this is some kind of game. I'll get him deported so quick. The guy comes over here, starts spreading his money around. Thinks he can buy what ever..."
"Mark, Mark, Mark," I say.
"The Son of a BITCH!"
"Mark,' I say. "It's not his site.
"Here's the thing. See at the bottom of the page. The Russian stuff.
"I got a guy, Nizhny Novgorod. He translated it for me. The Russian text is to embarrass Prokhorov. It's the name of a prostitute he was arrested with back in 2007. Of course the charges were later dropped."
"The domain, NETS.com is owned by a company called, CyberMesa. Not the N.Y. NETS."
"CyberMesa? What? You mean the N.Y. NETS don't own their own web site?"
"So, I gave them a call, and guess what?"
"I get a Jane on the phone. She says she owns the site. Nice lady. She told me that the Nets have been calling her, wanting to buy the domain, but she says she's not ready to sell. She said she's got plenty of money. She made it selling another domain name, Roadrunner.com to TimeWarner."
"You're kidding. The Nets don't own their own domain name? Incredible. Jane, huh? And, not ready to sell, just means she wants more money."
I actually hear him rubbing his hands together.
"Hold on," he says. "You got a number for this Jane? You said you called her?"
"Sure did," I say. "In my undying effort to check every fact for my readers..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, the number."
I give him the number and we do a three-way.
"Hello," I say. "Is this Jane, the lady I spoke with the other day? This is Brentwood Belair. Remember? We spoke about your domain, NETS.com. I've got Mark..."
"Hello, this is Mark Cuban. Please to meet you, Jane? You own the domain Nets.com?"
"Actually it's owned by CyberMesa, and I own CyberMesa."
"Well," says Mark. "If I owned the site, it would sure be a thorn in the side of my arch enemy, Mikhail Prokhorov. Would you ever consider selling it. I might like to buy it."
"Not a problem," she says. "You'd be the guy who'd really have fun with it, knowing how you feel about the NETS. $20 million, and it's yours."
I jerk back, an uncontrollable spasm. $20 mil? But not Mark.
"That's quite a price," he says. He's in his element. "I was hoping you'd take a little less than that. You're right, it would be nice to own that domain. How about this. $15 million, not a penny more. You know, I could sue you for putting that crazy picture of me on your site. It's defamation. My legal team..."
"You're a public figure, Mr Cuban, and it's not pornographic. Really it's not all that bad a picture. I have others much more...frightful. Hey, I watch TV. They say you're a Billionaire."
"...maybe on paper..."
"So, I think you can easily afford $20 million. Come on, that's what? Two percent of your net worth. You only live once, my friend."
"You're good Okay. $18 mil. And that's final. Look, no name is really worth that much. Now that I know about this site, my Tech Team could crash the entire thing. We have ways. Then what's it worth?"
"I don't think you want that made public. You have a real nice guy reputation. Mr. Prokhorov has already tried to threatened me. You know, I got a feeling you really want this domain. Think what you can do with it. I changed my mind. I'm asking $22 million."
"Hey, you can't do that..."
"So, it's been nice talking with both of you gentlemen. Something like this doesn't come around every day. You'll kick yourself tomorrow if you let this go."
"All right Already! You got it. $20 million. Okay?"
"Deal." she says. "I knew you'd come around."
"So." He laughs. "You're good. Real good. Okay, Mikhail Prokhorov, you're mine now. I got your web site. Am I going to screw with you, you Crazy Russian. Jane, you're a doll."
"I don't know about that."
"Oh boy, okay. This is great. Okay, okay. So...I'll have my Tech Team get in touch with you."
"You heard it, right Brentwood. I'm the owner, right?"
"That you are, Mark," I say.
"My Finance Team will call you, too, and do the money transfer."
"So," says Jane. "I guess I gotta get back to work. Nice doing business with you Mark. Next time your over here in New Mexico, stop by. We'll do some tequila shots."
"I like this lady. You're on. Okay. We'll be in touch."
"See ya, Mark. Brentwood."
"Bentwood," he says. He's out of breath. "Thank you, my man. I got it. $20 million. I'll sell some stock or something, but YES I got it."
"My pleasure," I say "I'm glad I was able..."
"Thanks so much. This is awesome. So, I'll see you. I'll send you some Mav tickets."
"When they play the Lakers?"
"You got it."
And that was my call to Mark 'The Shark' Cuban. An NBA web site not owned by the owner? Who knew?
I sip my buttermilk. This is a good day. It's always nice to have a Billionaire who owes you. And for this, he owes me big time.
HELP COME FROM: