Mac Engel

August 5, 2014

Cuban concerned about cash, not player safety

The Mavericks’ owner is not upset about the Olympics or international basketball events, but that he doesn’t get a cut.

Mark Cuban is undeniably correct, and he is the last person who should be delivering the message.

No one wants to hear a billionaire complain how other billionaires are profiting from unfair agreements that do not line his pocket, too.

No one wants to hear a billionaire, who gutted his NBA championship team in the name of money, complain that the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) are crooks driven by greed and cash.

Mark Cuban’s complaint is not about the Olympics or international basketball events, but that he doesn’t get a cut.

Cuban’s points — NBA players participating in the Olympics or World Whatever Games are facing a needless risk taken only by the NBA and its owners — are all valid, but this stance needs to come from somebody else.

This is 2014, and there is so much growing dissatisfaction over the disparity of wealth in this world, no one will sympathize with the 0.1 percent trying to squeeze a little bit more, no matter how much sense it makes or how fair of a proposal exists.

It is 2014, and fans are more on the side of the players than ever before in their quest for one more buck. Players (and fans) fully expect management is trying to put one over on them, which they are.

Cuban’s message needs to come from a player. A very good player on the verge of great. A player like Paul George.

It was always a matter of when, not if, an NBA player suffered a massive injury in one of these things. The Indiana Pacers’ 2014-15 season pretty much ended Saturday night when George suffered a nasty leg break during a USA Basketball showcase in Las Vegas.

How it took this long for something like this to happen can only be described as good luck.

George already signed his max contract worth about $90 million, but his injury is a reminder of the fragility of it all for the players.

Pacers president Larry Bird said in a statement that this injury could have happened anywhere at any time, and that he supports USA Basketball.

Cuban is not having any of that nonsense.

Cuban took to Twitter to ask: “When considering FIBA/Olympic events as who gets paid. Players=No. NBA=No. FIBA/IOC=YES. Ask the people making money off us what they think.”

That is wonderful Cuban cares so much about the players’ financial well being. He obviously cared a tremendous amount when the NBA hammered the players in the 2011 lockout and left those same players he cares so much about with another one-sided agreement in favor of men such as Cuban.

What Cuban continues to willfully ignore is that his league, the players, his team and his own franchise are worth what they are in large part because of the international market. The NBA is not nearly the worldwide monster it has become without allowing its players to participate in the Olympics, beginning in 1992 at Barcelona.

The top NBA players are worth more now thanks to the international marketing exposure, and the league has a wider array of players because more foreign kids are playing basketball.

The IOC and FIBA have enjoyed a similar growth since this timeline, just as the NBA has reaped the benefits in terms of cash and international player participation.

What Cuban wants is an NBA-run World Cup of Basketball that in theory is supposed to be like soccer’s World Cup, but sounds more like the World Baseball Classic, which has been mostly a mediocre experiment run by MLB.

Cuban has been making these claims for years, but there is a reason why the league never does a thing about them — it doesn’t believe it is an issue big enough to address.

What Cuban wants is a cut of a tournament, or tournaments.

What both the fans and players want are every three- or four-year international tournaments where USA is on the front of a jersey.

What we don’t want to hear is how another billionaire sports owner is getting screwed out of more money.

Mark’s points may be all well and true; he just needs to find a different messenger.

Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram/com/sports/.

Related content


Sports Videos