Mac Engel

Tony Romo stunt demonstrates sad state of Mavericks

It took awhile, but Mark Cuban bagged that “big fish” free agent as part of his plan to remake the 2011 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

Let us not get caught up in technicalities, please. Tony Romo is a free agent. So what if he hasn’t played basketball since he was in high school?

Romo-to-the-Mavs is better than the free-agent addition of center DeAndre Jordan; at least we know Tony won’t stand up Mark.

Cubes’ latest publicity stunt to create headlines for his irrelevant team now includes putting Phil Simms’ bestest good buddy in uniform and on the bench for the Mavs’ game Tuesday night against the Denver Nuggets.

Every fan in attendance will also receive a free T-shirt. It would be more interesting if they each were allowed a chance to play, too.

Romo will meet the media Tuesday morning to take only questions about his addition to the Mavs; the leading passer in Cowboys’ history has essentially retired, and his former team thus far has merely issued a press release.

On the surface, Cuban’s move to give Romo his Day as a Maverick is a warm yet harmless gesture that will generate attention in a game made for die-hards (speaking of which, take the Mavs to cover).

Beneath the Hallmark, unaffiliated minor league baseball headline, however, is the inescapable indictment of just how far this franchise has fallen, and another slap at Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle.

Cuban is literally back at his first days of owning the team, when he was signing Dennis Rodman and having him live at his house, and serving ice cream at a Dairy Queen.

The Mavs are a joke, and it would be funnier if it just didn’t involve Dirk and RC.

Spare me the “integrity of the game” garbage; always remember when a sport turns pro the integrity is the bottom line. Fans are sold seats that are essentially on an NBA bench. Maybe the Mavs will be lucky and continue their home “sellout streak” as a result of this promotion.

Cuban making Romo a Mav is simply another bouquet of roses the Mavs owner can throw at a jock in hopes that he might look his way. He must realize the cool crowd that did not include him as a youngster acknowledges him now only for his money (no different than a lot of the uber wealthy).

According to those inside the Mavs’ organization, no one was/has going to raise any fuss over the addition of Romo to the “roster” for two reasons:

No. 1 — Working for Cuban automatically implies a Mr. Smithers’ commitment to positive responses to his ideas. The only ones who can disagree with him are players, coaches and some basketball personnel people.

No. 2 — The goal for this season, for about the last four months, has been to end it. The draft is the most exciting part for the Mavs.

Watching Romo receive some cheers from the crowd will be nice, but even he knows if NBA rules allowed it he can’t take a shot after the layup drill.

If Romo’s “moving” concession speech delivered last fall has any merit, he should do nothing more than sit at the end of the bench and wave at the praise. In that speech, Romo was the one who professed football “is a meritocracy. You aren’t handed anything.”

That’s odd; Romo gladly had no trouble accepting this handout. Basketball must not be the meritocracy like football.

The only real sad part to this is that Dirk and RC have to deal with it. These are two who are the best in their profession, and because of the miscalculations of their boss must address questions about publicity stunts rather than basketball.

This would never happen if the Mavs had anything to play for.

This season was never going to be about contending for an NBA title. The goal was the playoffs. That’s what Dirk wanted, so that’s what Cuban gave him. Or tried.

It was apparent early in the season this team didn’t have enough talent to even make a plausible playoff push in a watered-down bottom half of the Western Conference.

The highlight of the entire season was a Dirk jumper for career point No. 30,000.

Dirk deserved better than this in the final couple of years of his Hall of Fame career. Name one other NBA Hall of Famer who has had to endure this shock-jock treatment from his franchise. Let me help you — you can’t.

Carlisle, the best coach in the NBA, deserves better, too. No other NBA coach has had to deal with more than Rick, which now includes playing along with this Romo bit.

Rick has always been a fan of Romo’s, and he will publicly declare with sincerity his support for this one-day roster move.

This is the one area of the job where his predecessors, under Cuban, would have failed. Don Nelson would not have signed off on this, and neither would have Avery Johnson.

So Rick plays along because he’s not stupid. Because, ultimately, it’s a harmless move.

It’s just too bad guys like Rick and Dirk have to deal with it because they deserve better from a franchise that has failed them.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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