At Dirk Nowitzki’s 30,000-point celebration dinner, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pitched the idea of having former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo join the team should they be out of the playoff hunt.
Well, the Mavericks dropped out of the playoff picture and Cuban stuck to his word – Romo is a Maverick-for-a-day.
Romo, the 36-year-old quarterback-turned-broadcaster, spent the morning at the team’s shootaround and went through the layup line before sitting on the bench for Tuesday’s game against the Denver Nuggets.
“I basically said if we don’t make the playoffs, I’ll do it,” Cuban said. “I kept my word. It’s fun for me because I play pickup with Tony. I know he can play. I know he loves basketball, so it was just a win-win. For fans, Tony, the city … it was just all positives all around.”
Cuban made it clear that this wouldn’t have happened had the Mavericks made the playoffs, or been in contention.
“Of course not,” Cuban said. “We would have had the pre-game presentation like we always do. But I wouldn’t want any distraction.”
Cuban informed NBA commissioner Adam Silver of his plans, saying: “I told him what I was going to do and said: ‘Fine me if you don’t like it.’”
It’s a ceremonial gesture, though, and Romo is not eligible to play in the game. The Mavericks didn’t sign him to a contract.
Cuban said the NBA office wouldn’t have approved the contract and he wasn’t going to press that matter.
As Cuban said, “It was not like he was going to play real minutes, you know? Yeah, it’s only been 18 years since he played, but go ahead and get out there and play against the best in the world. It’d have to be us up or down by a lot and him dribbling out the clock.”
Cuban went on to brush off the notion that this is disrespectful to the game.
“To let a guy be in the layup line?” Cuban said, before laughing. “Anybody who thinks a layup line is disrespectful hasn’t watched an NBA game. We’ve got people shooting half-court shots at every break, we’ve got kids for ball boys, we’ve got people – we’re entertainment. And if they’re so self-important they can’t recognize that, it’s on them. Not me.
“Look, if you ask yourself why people come to NBA games and you’re honest, the number of people who come just to watch basketball be played may be 10 percent of the audience. Thirty percent? Forty percent depending on the night? … If you ask yourself about the times you went with a parent to a sporting event, the one thing that wasn’t an issue was quality of play. So you’ve got to recognize that, particularly now we’re entertainment. We’re always entertainment.
“We try to connect to our fans in every way we can. If you look at our videos, we’re not self important. We’re very self aware and that starts with Dirk. So given the circumstances if we can have fun, what do you think I’m going to do? Anybody who is surprised that the first time we’re under .500 in 17 years and I’m going to do something fun with it … first time we haven’t been in a playoff race in 17 years, then you just don’t know me.”