MAVERICKS OWNER Mark Cuban (left) knows how to keep his players happy: Surround them with posh facilities and spare no expense. Cuban has spent $3.5 million to create the most luxurious, tricked-out locker room in the NBA, and perhaps in all sports. "There's first-class, and then there's Cuban class," says former Mavs coach Don Nelson. Cuban, who says, "We wanted to put players in a position to succeed," had the 8,000-square-foot space, and the similar, scaled-down version for visiting teams, designed with the idea that players should focus on basketball, not on where they can find a place to chill with some tunes or where to get a decent towel. ¬†(Both locker rooms are stocked with plush designer towels taht players are encouraged to take home.) ¬†Rooke guard Devin Harris says, "Our locker room is nicer than my house," and visitors aren't complaining either. ¬†In an SI Players poll of NBA players, Dallas got 45% of the vote for "best visitors' locker room," more than quadruple the next highest vote-getter. A look inside:
Who needs a home theater? ¬†Each locker has a built-in 13-inch TV with satellite, a stereo system, a DVD-CD player and a Playstation 2. ¬†Mavs looking for freedom of choice can don their own $400 Sennheiser headphones. ¬†"Everyone prepares for a game differently, from watching game tape to listening to music," says Cuban. ¬†"I had seen guys argue about what kind of music to play in the locker room. ¬†We solved that problem."
With 48 pieces of equipment, including a supersized leg press that fits even 7'6" center Shawn Bradley comfortably, and plates emblazoned with the Mavericks' logo, Dallas's workout space (below right) makes most national-chain gyms look lightweight. "Everything you could ask for is there," says 7-foot forward Dirk Nowitzki. "The equipment is perfect."
While most arenas have one group shower room, the Mavericks' 900-square foot area contains eight individual stalls equipped with showerheads that are nine feet off the ground.
The Mavs' hydrotherapy area (below left) has hot (103°) and cold (53°) whirlpools that can each hold as many as four NBA-sized people. The Hydroworks 2000 has an adjustable treadmill at the bottom of it, which allows players to run as fast as nine miles per hour. Four underwater cameras are situated so that training staff can monitor a player's workout on a 17-inch flat-screen TV. "It allows us to condition our guys cardiovascularly as well as functionally," says Mavs trainer Casey Smith. "If a guy has a sprained ankle, he's only bearing about a quarter of his body weight on it [when he's running in water]. We can work on normalizing his walking and running patterns without putting a lot of stress on the area."
FIVE COLOR PHOTOS
Photographs by Greg Nelson
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (CUBAN)