HEMPSTEAD, New York — Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban said having a front-row seat to the titanic presidential debate at Hofstra University on Monday night was like having court-side seats at an NBA Finals game — and he would know.
Cuban, the owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, later used plenty of sports analogies to describe the performances of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as judged from a seat the Clinton campaign called the “best” they could give.
“Hillary blew it open in the first quarter, Trump had a better second quarter, and then Hillary ran away with it in the third quarter,” he said after the showdown.
Cuban’s presence at the debate became one of the event’s bigger pre-game storylines. Cuban, known for courtside antics like ripping referees while cheering on his Mavericks, concerned some in the debate commission that he might engage Trump during the debate.
Last weekend, Trump angrily tweeted at him that, if he were in the front row, the Manhattan billionaire would “perhaps” invite Gennifer Flowers, a woman with whom former President Bill Clinton admitted to having an affair decades ago. Trump did not follow through on the threat.
But Cuban was front and center. He said afterward that didn’t believe there was “any one top moment” of the debate, calling it more like a “sporting event” where “one team got way down and they kept on being combative to fight back.”
“She was cool, calm, collected, and he was flustered,” Cuban said. “He was really, really flustered.”
But he doesn’t think the debate is going to lead to any “dramatic change” in the race.
“Sitting right up front there, it’s hard to know,” he said. “I think he got flustered a lot. I think he was combative a lot.”
Cuban made mention of how Trump’s debate performance was indicative of how he’d perform with other world leaders on an international stage.
“I thought she was far more presidential,” he said. “He had to keep on interrupting, and she just kept on point. That’s what I think would happen on a global setting dealing with other countries.”
Earlier Monday, among the likely largest media scrum of the night, Cuban said he had received death threats from Trump supporters after announcing his front-row presence, saying that, when he first tweeted, he did not initially have a front-row seat.
When asked if the two exchanged any pleasantries or glances during the debate following its conclusion, Cuban said “it was hard to tell.”
“He was concentrating the whole time,” Cuban said.
Another question reporters persistently flung at the bombastic billionaire was whether he is planning on running for president in 2020. He shut down each one.
“Think I’m going to go through this bulls—?” he rhetorically asked.
Cuban has been a Clinton supporter since he endorsed the Democratic nominee at a Pittsburgh rally in July, and he has ripped Trump repeatedly on social media and in interviews, calling him the most “dangerous” presidential candidate he could imagine during a recent interview with Business Insider. Cuban recently offered Trump $10 million to hold a four-hour policy debate with him.
Earlier in the cycle, he was more enthralled by a potential Trump presidency, and at different points said he’d be interested in serving as either Trump’s or Clinton’s running mate.