'I obviously was stunned' — Mavs owner Mark Cuban had put 5%-10% odds on NBA suspending games

Key Points
  • Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Thursday he didn't think the NBA would suspend the season due to the coronavirus. 
  • "I didn't think it was a likely outcome," he said. 
  • NBA paused its season indefinitely Wednesday after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. 
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on NBA suspending season due to coronavirus

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Thursday he didn't think the NBA would suspend the season due to the coronavirus. 

"This is new territory for all of us," Cuban said on CNBC's "Squawk "This is the ultimate definition of a black swan event," he added. 

Cuban said he addressed his team Wednesday before the NBA's announcement to pause its season indefinitely. The league took the action after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19. A second Jazz player has since been diagnosed. 

Cuban said he told the team he thought there was a 5% or 10% chance at the most that play would be suspended. "I didn't think it was a likely outcome," he said. 

When Cuban heard the announcement, he said, "I obviously was stunned."

"The minute I heard, my mind started racing, 'OK, what all has to happen? What can we do to make sure we're putting our players, fans and customers in the safest possible position?'" the billionaire entrepreneur said. 

And that includes the Mavericks' hourly employees who will be unable to work at the team's games, Cuban said. 

"Just having some brief conversations yesterday with some of the hour-to-hour folks last night, they were obviously concerned," he said. "So we'll put together a program for them."

Cuban said "nobody knows" how long the league's suspension will last and stressed the importance of relying on health experts. He also said he's "very" concerned about the health of NBA players and told the Mavericks' players to "effectively self-quarantine." 

"One of the challenges of being a celebrity, an NBA player, is everybody comes up to you ... Everybody wants to hug you. Everybody wants to take a picture with you." Cuban said later on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report. "You are much more at risk than a typical person would be." 

Many of the players are younger and could have the disease but not show symptoms.

However, Cuban said, "You're also at risk of being a carrier because so many people come up to you." He added, "We don't want to make things worse in the community so we're really going to try to keep our eye out on our guys." 

In all the uncertainty surrounding the season's future, Cuban said he's told the entire organization to prioritize safety and to "be considerate." 

"When in doubt, be supportive of a small business or an hourly worker," he said. He also said to "be agile because this is new territory for everybody. Pay attention. Let's be as smart as we can."

Cuban and the Mavericks heard about the NBA's decision to suspend the season while in the third quarter of their home game against the Denver Nuggets.

That ended up being the last game completed in the league Wednesday night.

The NBA said the test result on the Utah player was reported shortly before the scheduled tipoff of the Jazz-Thunder game in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. It was called off.

Players were on the floor for warmups and tipoff was moments away when they were told to return to their locker rooms. About 30 minutes later, fans were told the game was postponed "due to unforeseen circumstances."

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.