Cuban would listen if the Wilpons called

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban looks on during

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban looks on during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New Jersey Nets. (Jan. 22, 2011) (Credit: AP)

Billionaire Mark Cuban said Wednesday that he might have some interest in buying the Mets, but he won't be the one to make the first move.

"For any baseball team, I'm not going to be the one to chase after it," the Dallas Mavericks' owner said before his team's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. "If someone sees me as a potential owner, I will take their call and discuss the deal."

Cuban tried unsuccessfully to buy both the Texas Rangers and the Chicago Cubs, and he said that the process left a bad taste in his mouth.

"I'm not going to get in a bidding situation ever again," he said. "I'm not going to be in a situation where I make the proposal. I feel like I'd be a good team owner in baseball, but I'm not going to go through the same process I did with the Rangers and the Cubs."

In July of 2008, Cuban submitted a bid of $1.3 billion to buy the Cubs. Though he was invited to participate in a second round of bidding, he was not picked to participate in the final bidding process in January of 2009. Then, in August of 2010, an investment group led by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan beat out a $600-million offer from Cuban in a contentious auction.

Cuban said that his interest in the team would depend on how big of a stake he could purchase.

"From my perspective, it would be very unlikely that I would choose to participate if they came to me with a minority stake unless there was a right to buy in the event of that opportunity."

Cuban said he doesn't know much about the particulars of the Mets' economic situation, but the team holds some appeal. The Wilpons announced last Friday that they are willing to sell 20 to 25 percent of the team to offset "uncertainty" created by the lawsuit brought forth by Irving Picard, the special trustee in the Bernard Madoff case.

There has been some conjecture that MLB owners might not be all that keen to welcome the outspoken Cuban into their club. Cuban said he did not think owning a baseball team was that different from owning a basketball team, adding that it was all entertainment.

"I'm not going to chase it," he said.

In basketball news, Cuban sees the resurgence of the Knicks as something that is "good for the NBA."

"When I walk down the street, people don't scream at me 'buy the Knicks' anymore," he said. " . . . There are a lot of advertisers and sponsors in New York. If their first impression through their kids or whatever of the NBA is the Knicks stink, that doesn't help us. But if they say they're great, well that helps us and it's easier to sell the product."

Cuban owns an apartment in New York, and he clearly likes seeing the buzz of a winning team. He admitted that being a part of that buzz in New York makes the Mets appealing.

Said Cuban: "It's a great franchise in a great city. It's a great opportunity, but I'm not going to call their investment banker."

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