Mavericks Forcefully Rebut SI's Latest Story On Alleged Misconduct
Sports Illustrated for the second time in 29 months "rocked the Mavericks organization with a story about alleged employee misbehavior," but unlike in '18, the Mavs "rebutted aspects of SI's reporting, characterized the accuser as a money-seeker and questioned the ethics of publishing the story," according to Brad Townsend of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Judging from the Mavericks' responses yesterday, the franchise "does not anticipate fallout from SI's latest story, authored by the same reporters."
MAVS SAY KEY FACTS OMITTED: Among several aspects of SI's story that "angered the Mavericks is what they consider to be an unbalanced and key fact-omitted characterization of what the accuser said occurred." Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall said that nothing SI reported yesterday "changed the franchise's opinion" of Dir of Player Personnel Tony Ronzone or of the franchise's investigation. Marshall said that the organization "increasingly came to question the accuser's credibility after she changed her story multiple times about what allegedly occurred between her and Ronzone." Marshall also said that at issue was the accuser's "rising asking price from the Mavericks." The accuser in March claimed she was withholding important information, but Marshall said, "She provided nothing and again asked what we were going to do for her." Marshall: "Every time it was a bigger and bigger request for money. This time it was, 'Big and life-changing.'" SI responded that it is "confident in its reporting, which it says includes sworn statements from multiple people" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/30).
STORY DETAILS: In its report, SI details that a woman who worked for the Mavericks was drawn to Ronzone's Las Vegas hotel room under the pretense that he would provide her with Summer League tickets, at which point he "forced himself on her." The incident happened in spring of '19, and the woman in September of that year sent an email to Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban in which she described Ronzone's "inappropriate behavior." Marshall said that the Mavericks "investigated the matter, and Ronzone remains with the team, because 'there was no evidence presented of sexual assault'” (SI.com, 7/29). In a statement yesterday, SI said it "stands by its reporting and the accuracy of this story" (THE DAILY).
TO THE POINT: THE ATHLETIC's Tim Cato wrote the "forceful tone" of the Mavs' statement "was striking; it attacked Sports Illustrated's reporting and also accused the victim and her attorneys of withholding relevant evidence from the team as it was conducting its investigation." The team's statement "focuses not on the accusations of misconduct themselves," but "how the accusations were presented to the organization." The steps reported in the latest SI story "show a more thorough process than anything the Mavericks undertook when faced with earlier allegations of sexual misconduct by employees" in '18 (THEATHLETIC.com, 7/29).
WHAT'S THE IMPLICATION? In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington writes there is "plenty to parse here," but it "seems to come down to this." Either Marshall "had a bigger job than she thought when she agreed to take on" Cuban's corporate culture, or "previous sins make the Mavs a convenient target." Sherrington: "Frankly, I wouldn't dare hazard a guess as to which is the case." The "least of the ramifications is that it could potentially undermine the image Marshall has fostered of a franchise dedicated to rehabilitating the frat house culture she inherited." But by all accounts, Marshall "has worked hard at that task" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/30).