My Lunch with Mark Cuban!

by Kenny Eller on March 8, 2012

Me and Mark Cuban after lunch

-Dallas, TX (March 1, 2012)

In short, this is kind of how I imagined my time in the Shark Tank with Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Forbes current resident of spot #546 on the list of the World’s Billionaires, going in the weeks leading up to our lunch meeting.

“Kenny, I absolutely LOVE what you’re doing at!  After lunch, let’s go shoot some hoops, and while we’re on our way to the American Airlines Center, I’ll call Michael (as in Michael Jordan) and get something set up so you guys can play!  In the meantime, tomorrow you can play Dirk and maybe JT (Jason Terry)!”

In between all of that, there would have been great food and friendly banter.  We would exchange contact information and in the end, I would have the unwavering support of one of the most influential individuals on this green and blue marble we call home.

Overly optimistic?  Perhaps.

But if I were writing this story, my time with Mark Cuban would have been the chapter where the dream of playing hoops with Michael Jordan became a reality.  The time where it was proven that with faith and hard work, all things are possible!

This journey of mine to play basketball with MJ however, is no Hollywood creation.  My meeting with Mr. Cuban didn’t include an underlying section of inspirational music placed there to make your eyes leak.

Instead, it was 100% real.

It was uncensored, eye opening, thought challenging, inspiring and so much more than I ever expected.

Here are a few of the stories from our time together.

*I will in no way fully capture the moments that I do share, but honestly that’s on purpose, so I apologize ahead of time.  Unexpectedly, a lot of what happened was so personal, that I’m just not willing to share.  Still, I feel it’s important to offer some sort of update to all those that support me.  I appreciate you all!

“Oh yeah, I know about your site!”

After some initial greetings and conversation, I began telling Mark about this journey of mine to play Michael Jordan.

Within moments, he responded, “Oh yeah, I know about your site!  You’ve played the guy that played in Brazil, the 6’4″ guy at VT, the tall high school kid…”

To which I interjected, in an almost shocked tone, “Yeah!”

We spoke more in depth about my journey, why it began, where I currently am in the process and there was no doubt that Mark Cuban had a firm grasp on what I was looking to accomplish.

I was amazed that he, himself, had been to the site and knew so much about it!

He even shared that he had attended the Senior Flight School (the Jordan camp I was going to attend before it was canceled last year) twice himself!

Challenge, Resistance & a Solution

Mark then went on to challenge nearly every aspect of this journey, offering more resistance to the idea than I could have ever imagined.

For what seemed like an eternity, he spoke with brutal honesty on every reason that he felt my game with MJ wouldn’t happen.

I pressed back, offering my own rebuttals to each issue, but his mind had been made up.

Then he offered a solution for me to get the game with Jordan.  He broke it down, detailing exactly what he would do and while I won’t share at this time what that discussion entailed, I will say, it made a lot of sense!

A First Bump and a Nice Video!

Weeks prior to my get together with Mark, I had been working on two pieces for our lunch meeting.

Keep in mind, I had no idea exactly how much time he would have, so I had a marketing piece and video created, just in case our meeting was cut short.

The marketing piece was the mastermind of my buddy, who runs a marketing company here in Orlando.  The idea was to take Mark down memory lane, from the very beginning to several key points in his life.  This was to be achieved through the use of a custom folder with a cutout section in the front.  Behind the front cover was a wheel, which had a picture and a word associated with each photo.  As the wheel was turned, the picture would capture something pivotal in Mark’s life and the word would then sum it up.  The final picture was a QR code linking back to a special video and message on my site exclusively for Mark, with the words “My Dream”.

After reading through Mark’s book several times, I made the selections on what I wanted to cover (powdered milk, fluffy towels, American Airlines, Bobby Knight (Indiana Basketball), and him holding the NBA Championship trophy) and the piece was put together.

Mark loved it!  A huge smile came over his face as he made each turn of the wheel, stopping after just the second turn to give me a fist bump and say, “Thank you so much for this, it’s great!”

As he worked his way through the piece we spoke briefly on each section, until he got to the QR code, which prompted him to say with a big smile, “Oh, nice!  Very smart!  You’ve got my interest piqued, so now I have to scan the code and check it out.  I like it!”

I then asked him, if he had another minute to watch the video I had produced.

He said, “Sure, absolutely!” and I handed him my iPad with the video shown below cued up.

[Video Link]

While I’m currently working with another friend on a video series for this site (more on this soon), I wanted to debut the first one in the series exclusively to Mark.

The idea came to me one afternoon and I recorded the audio on my iPhone and sent it over to my buddy.  He then took it from there and put together what you see above, which I’m so proud of!

“Nice video!  Man I was waiting to see you play some!  Who did this for you??” came from what I took as a somewhat impressed Mr. Cuban.

Nice Stroke!  (+ some coaching from an NBA owner)

I then pulled up the video of me going 22 of 24 from 3pt land on my cell phone and handed that over to Mark.

He watched over three and a half minutes of the nearly four minute video, saying within moments, “You’ve got a nice stroke!”

He then identified what he perceived as a weakness (can’t tell you what that is, because MJ is probably reading this, haha), which had never been pointed out to me before.

I sat there thinking, this is crazy!  I have Mark Cuban watching me play hoops and critiquing my play!  The thing is, he was absolutely correct and I’ve already begun working on correcting the issue!  So surreal!

“As well as it could have without me setting up the game with Michael.”

With the lunch winding down, Mark said something to the effect of, “Well, I hope you’ve gotten what you wanted out of the time.”

With a smile, I said, “Well, yeah…”

To which he responded, “Let me guess, it’s gone as well as it could have without me setting up the game with Michael.”

I laughed and said, “Exactly!”

An Email from Mark and Tickets to the Game!

After finding out that we’d (myself and my buddy Karol) be in town through the weekend, Mark said he’d hook us up with tickets for Saturday night’s game!

I responded with, “Really?  That’s awesome!”

He confirmed, “Sure, not a problem.  Just email me!”

A bit baffled, I questioned, “Just email you?”

He said, “Yeah, just email me.”

Later that night, hours after the lunch had come to a close, I sent him a quick email thanking him again for his time and for the tickets.

Within five minutes, he responded back, confirming the tickets and closed his email with something that made me laugh.

He said, “Enjoy the game guys, and No asking any of the players to play 1-on-1!”

This is what I saw when I showed my ID at will call.

Tickets Mark Cuban left for me at will call!

(The seats were floor seats!)

An Over 2 Hour Lunch with Mark Cuban

In the over two hours that Karol and I spent with Mark, we discussed everything from hoops to dancing with the stars and everything else in between.

I challenged him to a push-up contest, shooting contest, we invited ourselves on his upcoming trips, asked if he wanted to play some hoops and of course asked if he would call or put in a good word for me with MJ.

He took it all in stride.

While we were unsure of how much time we would have with Mr. Cuban (the charity had said up to 75 minutes), we were both blown away at his unrushed willingness to hang out and talk about any and everything.

Once we realized how long he had been with us (over two hours), we both thanked him for spending so much of his time with us, to which he responded, “Not a problem.  I like you guys.  If I didn’t, I would have been out of here in 10 minutes!”

After lunch, he walked us out to our car, took a picture and was on his way.

As he walked away, I yelled out, “Don’t forget to scan that QR code!”

To which he quipped, “Uh, huh!”

Great times for sure!

The Journey Continues!

So there was no call to MJ.  No game has been set up.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Mark Cuban, including his challenging of what I’m looking to accomplish.

The great thing with being challenged is that it strips away everything and leaves you with the pureness of what the journey is all about.

I’m proud of how I handled myself and while I can’t read Mr. Cuban’s mind, I feel he was impressed as well.

I put forth effort in preparation, just as I have on this journey, and did all I could do to make the most of the opportunity.  I think he knows that.

I learned, was inspired, and truly had a great time.

Hopefully he did as well.  (Yes, Mr. Cuban, we can hang at the end of the month when the Mavs play in Orlando. ;-))

I WILL play Michael Jordan!

This past Tuesday I was back to training, back to making new connections, still hopeful that someone will be willing to help me prove that ALL things are possible with Faith and Hard Work.

I will play MJ.  I’m determined to succeed.

I must admit the depth of this journey has far exceeded my expectations.

Mark Cuban last week…what is coming next?  Only time will tell!

me vs MJ…the journey continues!  As always, thank you for following along!

PS:  Mark, I look forward to seeing you at the game WHEN I play MJ (even if I have to make what we discussed happen, haha)! – Thank you again! – Yes, I know you’re reading this!


Connect:  Twitter (@KennyEller) and Facebook Fan Page.


If you’re new to the site, I set out in August 2010 to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. my childhood hero Michael Jordan.  This site is about that journey…through every valley, to every mountain top of triumph!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

André March 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Well done, Kenny. I loved reading this story and it would be fun if you could meet up with Mark later this month to show him your progress on that secret weakness… 😉


Kenny Eller Kenny Eller March 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

Thank you Andre! Yes, that would be fun! We will see what happens!


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