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Volume 25 No. 199
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NBA Felt There Was Not Enough Evidence To Suspend Mavs' Cuban

The NBA after concluding its seven-month investigation into workplace misconduct within the Mavericks organization did not suspend team Owner Mark Cuban because the league "couldn't find a situation" where he was "told either electronically or face-to-face that there had been a problem," according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. The NBA "didn't feel it had the ability" to suspend Cuban, because he "could honestly raise his hands, look at you in the face, and say, ‘I didn't know.’" Only Cuban knows "whether that is true or not," but "without that evidence, that made it difficult" for a harsher punishment. Cuban was "able to avoid disaster and probably no owner would have suffered more from being suspended" than him as he is "more hands-on than probably any other owner." So, to "avoid a suspension and avoid an impact on his basketball team, although he would never declare it this way, he was able to come out on the other side of this as best as he possibly could" (“SportsCenter,” ESPN2, 9/20).

COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: YAHOO SPORTS Dan Devine wrote it is "hard not to feel like the price" Cuban has to "pay for a stunning lack of institutional control that created two decades of corrosion was awfully cheap." The punishment "doesn’t fit," and "honestly, it barely even scans as a punishment." The NBA "shouldn’t have again left the bat on its shoulder." Maybe the "fifth 'significant error in judgment' here is setting the precedent that, should a similar situation arise in the future, the way out is by making big donations and saying you’ll do better" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/21). In Dallas, Matt Mosley notes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called the findings on the Mavs "heartbreaking," but he "didn't follow it up with any serious action." Cuban paying out $10M to organizations supporting the leadership and development of women and combating domestic violence "will hopefully help the greater good, but for the Mavs it pretty much looks like a public relations move." The only way to "truly send a strong message was to keep Cuban away from his team for a significant amount of time." Silver apparently "didn't have the inclination nor the nerve to go that direction" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/21).

WAS IT ALWAYS GOING TO END THIS WAY? THE ATHLETIC's Tim Cato wrote Cuban was "never going to be fairly punished" as billionaire sports owners "rarely are." The last time an owner was "forced out of the NBA, it came due to rampant racism occurring over decades and 29 other owners who universally wanted him out." That is "not the case here." Just like his peers "often do, Cuban will skate through this controversy unscathed in his role as owner" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/20). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the NBA “should have suspended" Cuban and the suspension "should have been substantial." Cowlishaw: "If you told him six months ago at the end of all of this you are going to write a big check with a bunch of zeros and that’s going to be the end of it from your standpoint, he would have an overwhelming sense of relief" (“OTL,” ESPN, 9/20).

ISOLATED PROBLEM? ESPN’s Kate Fagan said she believes the NBA "does not have a pressing cultural issue when it comes to how it treats women in the same way as I do when look at a place like college football and college athletics in general” (“OTL,” ESPN, 9/20). USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes under the header, "Like So Many Other Crises In Sports, Male Privilege Behind The Dallas Mavericks' Mess" (USATODAY.com, 9/21).

OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY: INC.com's Minda Zetlin wrote even when one has "done something very, very wrong," it is still possible to "take action to make things better, and Cuban has." That is "likely thanks to this quick action and forthrightness that the NBA has not called for discipline against him, or forced him out of the league, or even temporarily suspended him." He has "set an example for leaders everywhere in how to respond to a crisis with a level head and a lot of emotional intelligence" (INC.com, 9/21).