Had Stern been the NBA commissioner during this sexual harassment scandal, you can bet that he would have put Cuban in a real life shark tank.
No one loved a good punitive punishment more than Stern, who took defending his brand quite seriously and had a particular affection for fining the Mavs owner during his tenure.
Having retired in 2014, Stern is no longer the NBA commissioner. Adam Silver is the NBA commissioner, and one of the biggest reasons he has the job is Cuban worked hard to make that happen.
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When the league announced its punishment for the Mavs after its investigation into sexual harassment claims, it’s no surprise Silver did not hit Cuban nearly as hard as Stern would have.
The NBA announced that Cuban was fined the max $2.5 million, and that he will donate $10 million to organizations that promote women in leadership roles and combat domestic violence. That’s it.
To give you an idea of how much $12.5 million is to the Mavs, that’s approximately the same amount of money Cuban will pay Dwight Powell and Devin Harris, combined, for the upcoming season.
Cuban, you got off lucky.
There were no actions taken by the NBA toward the Mavs’ on-the-court product. No docking of draft picks. No obstacles in signing free agents, or trading players, or making any roster moves.
Stern would have suspended Cuban. Stern would have taken away draft picks. He might have even gone so far as to mandate Cuban and his employees to take some counseling class, or restrict the Mavs owner from sitting courtside after the suspension was lifted.
Stern would have made this personal. Stern would have made it a mission to embarrass Cuban the way this story did the NBA.
Silver and Cuban have a good working relationship. Notice Cuban, who in his time as owner has often been wonderfully critical of the NBA, hasn’t said too much about the office since Silver replaced Stern.
That’s not a coincidence.
Two days before their preseason starts, the Mavs held a press conference on Wednesday in Dallas to announce all of this. CEO Cynthia Marshall and investigator Anne Milgram, who was hired by the Mavericks, held the press conference.
It mattered so much to Cuban that he didn’t appear for it. Instead, he was in LA to film “Shark Tank.”
The NBA’s seven-month investigation into this matter revealed that more than a dozen former and current Mavs employees said former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery used inappropriate language and, basically, behaved like a pig around women.
The investigation revealed employee misconduct by current and past employees, and ineffective management. That included a high-ranking team official, Chris Hyde, watching X-rated material on his computer. At work.
It was on Cuban to know at least some of this, because every minute detail in that organization must be approved by him.
It was on him to least mandate and foster a more professional atmosphere in his workplace. It was on him to know at least some of what the NBA discovered, but there is no way for him to know all of this. Not when he has 4,455 things going on at the same time.
For those of us who have been in and around pro sports long enough, none of what happened in the Mavs’ front office is a surprise. The type of behavior revealed in the reporting by Sports Illustrated with regards to the Mavs, and the Carolina Panthers, which led to owner Jerry Richardson selling the team, reveals the tragedy of what has been the norm in these front offices for decades.
Pro sports teams historically are not frat houses, but they’re close.
Cuban did not speak to the local media, but he did record an interview with NBA partner, ESPN. Cuban appeared genuinely contrite, and sad, at the developments revealed in the story.
He said, “It’s horrible. I have no excuse. I should have done better. I’ve learned. There’s just no other way to put it.”
Even more than Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban is the Dallas Mavericks. So when they’re embarrassed, or in the toilet, it’s on Mark more than any player or coach.
Will this lead to real change? The Mavs already pulled some PR stunt about changing some stuff about the cheerleaders, which ex Mavs dancer Kathryn Dunn absolutely destroyed for its lameness.
Stories like this normally frighten people, and the Mavs should do better, because now Cuban knows better.
Mark is OK with being wrong, but he does not like being embarrassed. Neither does the NBA, which is why his friend, Silver, had to spank him.
Cuban is lucky, though, and he knows it.
Stern would have thrown him in a real life shark tank.