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The Idle American
Souls Tried and Searched...
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 • Posted July 18, 2012

The late Thomas Paine and Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban, historically separated by a couple of centuries, would have had a lot to talk about, nodding knowingly about much. On matters of courage, boldness and ingenuity, each deserves high marks.

Like Paine, Cuban laughs at risks, defies convention and likely has slack-jawed parents. (Even in parentage, backgrounds are similarly modest. Paine was the son of a corset-maker and Cuban of an automobile upholsterer.)

They might have discussed which are toughest—“the times that try men’s souls”—or times of great soul-searching. Mark might vote for the latter, what with his Dallas Mavericks basketball team that conquered the NBA just two seasons ago now reduced to rubble. It’s a real “Cuban Crisis”….


The lone remaining Maverick of note is star player Dirk Nowitzki. He has three “i’s” in his name, but alas, there is none in “team.”

Yes, Dirk’s the only marquee name left on the roster. Unless Cuban has more up his sleeve than his arm, the team nickname for the upcoming season could be singular—the Dallas Maverick. There may be no game programs, since we do know THE PLAYER without a program. What if Nowitzki, owner of a tubful of team records, decides the “no-trade clause” in his contract is a typographical error? Might he bolt, too? His game has greatly exceeded all expectations, but how much longer?...


At age 34, he’s only a year away from being closer to AARP membership age qualification than to the date his basketball potential was identified two decades ago.

Most opponents are much younger. The Oklahoma City Thunder, for example, has an array of youthful talent.

Some of the OKC players are still on their first razors. They have fresh memories of becoming tall enough to ride bumper cars and old enough for driver’s license exams….


The Mavericks’ usual “sold out” status at American Airlines Center may change sharply next season unless an attendance crisis is averted.

Makes one mindful of the 1950’s, when TV did a number on movie attendance. The story goes that a guy called the theater to inquire about the feature’s starting time.

“What time can you come?” the cashier inquired….


Back to Paine and Cuban. Both men experienced mountain top success and gut-wrenching failure.

Paine, lackluster in several pursuits in his native England, emigrated to the US, thanks to Benjamin Franklin, whom he chanced to meet in London.

His career turned to journalism in Philadelphia, and his book entitled Common Sense strongly supported American independence from England. That was in 1776….


He served in the Continental Army, again in a lackluster manner, but his American Crisis pamphlet inspired the troops. It was read by—or to—more people than watch the Super Bowl annually on TV. It also encouraged a young nation.

Again restless, he returned to Europe, working on a smokeless candle and an iron bridge.

He couldn’t put down his pen, and his book The Rights of Man inflamed England for his anti-monarchist views….*****He fled to France, where he was imprisoned for opposing the execution of Louis XVI. In prison, he wrote yet another book The Age of Reason. Perhaps this was one book too many, since his anti-church sentiments were not well received.

James Monroe, then US Minister to France, befriended Paine, who barely escaped execution. Paine returned to America at the invitation of President Thomas Jefferson. Alas, his anti-church position had all but eradicated memories of his contributions to the American Revolution.

One of our nation’s founding fathers, he died at age 72, derided by the public and abandoned by his friends. Only a handful of people attended his funeral….*****Outspoken Cuban, himself an author, hasn’t published any religious views. If he ever does, they might hardly be noticed. And he’s written nary a book with “reason” or “common sense” in the title.

No matter what happens to the Mavericks, nothing beyond a Dallas sports revolution is likely to result. But it may feel like more to hard-core fans.

Who knows? When an owner’s soul is both tried and searched—and the owner is Mark Cuban—upcoming life chapters may greatly surprise. They often do….


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Email: Phone: 817-447-3872. Twitter: @donnewbury. Website:

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