Mark Aguirre Rumors
Not long before the 1984 NBA Draft, Rod Thorn received a phone call from the Mavericks. Dallas was about to make a serious play for Michael Jordan. Mavs general manager Rick Sund told Thorn, then the GM of the Bulls, he’d part with All-Star forward Mark Aguirre if Chicago was willing to give up the No. 3 pick, which the Bulls would use to draft Jordan. Sund figured this one had a chance. The Bulls were coming off a 27-win season, and Aguirre was a local hero who drew huge crowds while starring at DePaul. He was the No. 1 pick in the draft only three years before and was coming off of a season as the NBA’s second-leading scorer.
Sund had fallen in love with North Carolina’s recent teams and had dreams of pairing Jordan with his college teammate, Sam Perkins, who had also entered the ’84 draft. If he could finagle the third pick, he’d be able to do it. The Mavericks were already choosing fourth. So, as he puts it, he “dangled” Aguirre. But there was one problem: Thorn and the Bulls had been waiting a long time for this moment, and they weren’t exactly trying to flush it away. “(Rod and I) talked about this a couple weeks ago,” Sund told The Athletic. “And I said, ‘You know, Rod. You’d have won the press conference, but we’d have won NBA championships.’”
Sund wasn’t the only GM who called Thorn about No. 3. The 76ers, owners of the fifth pick, were signaling all over to see if they could move up. Then-general manager Pat Williams says they offered Portland No. 5 and a player for No. 2. That was a no-go. He can’t recall what he proposed to the Bulls, but it wasn’t enough. “People are shocked. ‘We didn’t know (Jordan) was gonna be that good and so forth.’ Well, we certainly knew he was gonna be good,” Williams told The Athletic. “Greatest player of all time? Nobody saw that coming. But everybody knew. And if you were in that Carolina pipeline, which we were because of Billy, you had all the inside skinny on what was going on in Chapel Hill.”
This was a long time coming. NBA front offices in 1984 were not what they are now, neither in size nor procedure. Organizations didn’t overflow with scouts, as they do today. There wasn’t nearly the same emphasis on studying every nook and cranny of a player’s off-court life. Chicago never even brought Jordan in for a pre-draft interview or workout. “We never had a conversation until we drafted him,” Thorn said. Instead, the Bulls did their homework old-school. Thorn was in contact with Smith, his close friend, who provided intel. Thorn, as well as scouts Gene Tormohlen and Mike Thibault, regularly traveled to Chapel Hill to watch Jordan play. Thibault estimates he was at UNC six or seven times during the 1983-84 season, Jordan’s junior and final year at the school.
Back to January 2000. Cuban says he was connected to Perot through former Maverick Mark Aguirre, a close friend of Perot’s right-hand man (and at one point interim Mavericks GM), Frank Zaccanelli. Perot had purchased the Mavericks in 1996 from founding owner Donald Carter. Cuban recalls that negotiations with Perot, such as they were, took less than 15 minutes. Perot named his price. Cuban said yes. That wasn’t even the most memorable part of the courtship. “Ross took me on his helicopter,” Cuban says, “and I’m terrified of heights. It was the first time I was on a helicopter and the last time I’ll ever go on a helicopter.”