LAST CALL: Cuban puts some weight behind his latest PR initiative

Had it been anyone else's idea, the Dallas Mavericks' PR people probably would have thought it was an April Fool's joke. But by now, they've come to expect the unusual from the mind of owner Mark Cuban.

Had it been anyone else's idea, the Dallas Mavericks' PR people probably would have thought it was an April Fool's joke. But by now, they've come to expect the unusual from the mind of owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban, when he isn't hurling costly insults at referees or serving at Dairy Queen, has been stirring up spirit in the stands by giving away 30 prime seats each game to fans who wear the most outlandish costumes and show the most rabid enthusiasm.

On April 1, Cuban e-mailed staff with an idea to take fan participation a step further. He suggested creating a male dance team made up of guys who paint their beer bellies and wave big foam-rubber fingers during games.

Three days later, the team issued a casting call for the Mavs ManiAACs (the extra "A

and gratuitous capitalization are a nod to the team's new home, the American Airlines Center). The press release sought "men ages 21-50 who are beefy, like/want to dance, and consider themselves Mavs fanatics."

Within a week, the club had 80 applications and chose 13 for the rotund squad, said team spokes-person Dawn Holgate. Though local media clamored for rehearsal photos, the squad's identities and strategically shredded, girth-revealing costumes were kept secret until the Mavs' first playoff game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 21.

People magazine took notice of the ManiAACs, but there's no word yet on whether the team's female dance troupe has given them the time of day.

Wisely, the ManiAACs haven't yet been allowed onto court with their more shapely counterparts.

At least the Mavs won during the ManiAACs' debut, beating the T'Wolves 101-94.

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