“The whole place goes NUTS!” Billionaire Mark Cuban reveals reality behind world famous referee fight

Leveraging his status as the NBA's most vocal and hands-on owner, Mark Cuban orchestrated a delightful April Fools' Day prank in 2003.

“The whole place goes NUTS!” Billionaire Mark Cuban reveals reality behind world famous referee fight

Mark Cuban, the then Mavericks owner, engaged in a scuffle with an actor/referee. (via The Dallas Morning News)

21 years ago, on April 1, Mark Cuban leveraged his reputation as the NBA’s most vocal and hands-on owner to execute a remarkable April Fools’ Day prank. During a timeout in the Dallas Mavericks game against the then-New Orleans Hornets, Cuban initiated an argument with a ref, as he had done on numerous occasions.


Unbeknownst to everyone, including Cuban, the ref was actually an actor in disguise. Cuban escalated the situation by repeatedly shoving and attempting to wrestle the official, taking the prank to another level.

Cuban began by confronting the imposter, positioned at the free-throw line on the Mavericks’ end of the court. Moving in close to the ref, seemingly to emphasize his point, he engaged in a verbal exchange. The crowd, caught up in the moment, believed the prank was genuine. Stepping back momentarily, Cuban then uttered something else before pushing the ref in the chest.

A subsequent shove elicited a retaliatory push from the ref, escalating the altercation into a wrestling match, with Cuban securing a headlock. Team personnel, including backup center Evan Eschmeyer, intervened to separate the two. The realism of the skit, coupled with the limited prior knowledge among the team, led many on the Mavericks’ bench to believe the incident was genuine, at least initially.


Recalling the incident in an interview, he said:

He came up to me, he goes, 'Cuban alright, it's April Fool's day. We're gonna do a joke where you fight a ref.' I'm like, 'as long as you get the real ref to go along with it, I'm cool.'

He went on to describe how the fake altercation went down,

So I just remember he comes up and pushes me and I'm trying to stay in it right. And I could just hear the whole place go nuts right and then I push him back and give me a headloco or whatever and I could see the whole place go nuts.

Cuban’s performance was so convincing that he deserved at least a Golden Globe nomination for selling the prank flawlessly. His explanation, which came years later, accoding to a video by GameTimeClips1, was hilariously in its own right, as well.

Mark Cuban on why he can’t bet on Super Bowl LVIII

Mark Cuban, earlier this year, decided to sell his majority ownership stake in the Dallas Mavericks. Despite pocketing a massive amount of money in the deal, the billionaire recently voiced his thoughts on sports gambling. Interestingly, the Super Bowl stands out as one of the biggest events for fans to place wagers on. Many fans are sure to get in on the action, but Cuban will not be among them.

Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban (via Open Source/X)

During a conversation with TMZ, Mark Cuban outlined his reasoning for refraining from placing bets on Super Bowl LVIII. A significant factor is his association with the Mavericks. As he still retains some ownership stake in the league, it prevents him from engaging in betting activities. Uncertain whether this rule applies beyond the NBA, Cuban is not inclined to experiment with it personally.

Also, Cuban’s reluctance to place wagers on the game also stems from his aversion to squandering money. While acknowledging that betting can provide entertainment if one can afford potential losses, it’s simply not a pursuit that interests him.

He, however, expressed his predictions on who will emerge victorious between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. He’s backing Patrick Mahomes and his team to secure the Lombardi trophy for a second consecutive season.

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