The Big Mac Blog

Cuban media tiff demonstrates he’s running the NBA

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided pulling the season credentials to his team’s basketball games to veteran ESPN reporters is a worthy gesture.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided pulling the season credentials to his team’s basketball games to veteran ESPN reporters is a worthy gesture. AP

It is comically ironic to listen to Mark Cuban blast Donald Trump for his various sins and offenses during this election cycle because so much of what he says about the GOP Presidential hopeful could be lobbed at himself.

The two men are different but the dueling reality TV stars share alarming similarities, right down to their often thin-skinned and bizarre relationship with the media.

While Trump is known to call reporters “losers” among other insults, Cuban is not above trolling and engaging media members on social media, or via email. He’s done with it me once or twice, which in the proper context is amusing and harmless.

The latest example of this behavior, however, is not. It’s just silly, immature and distraction from the obvious - his basketball team is not good.

As first reported by Art Garcia of the Star-Telegram, Cuban revoked the Mavericks’ season media credentials from ESPN NBA reporters, Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein. To most NBA reporters, not having access to this bad team Cuban “built” should be considered finding a winning lottery ticket.

There is no way this stupid move is done without Cuban’s consent; every single minor decision in that organization is signed off by the owner, including something as needlessly fruitless and petty as this. Sports media coverage is free advertising to the teams and while there is often good reason to be annoyed by some of the commentary and reporting, to cut it off is counter productive.

It’s a trade, but Cuban has never been crazy about critical media coverage; he thinks fans want to only see the good headlines about their favorite team.

It is at this point a real NBA commissioner would call Mark Cuban immediately and tell him to knock it off, and to quit embarrassing himself, his franchise and the league. But the NBA doesn’t have a real commissioner, because Mark Cuban not only runs the Mavs but he has gained access to the commissioner’s office, too.

The problem is the NBA commissioner is no longer David Stern, but rather Adam Silver. And one of the reasons Adam Silver has his job is because men like Cuban supported his promotion to replace Stern. To support Silver meant Cuban would have a voice in the big office in Manhattan.

Remember how Cuban was, for so long, hyper critical of the league office and specifically Stern? It was nothing for Mark to rip the the league, and then pay his six-figure fine with a smile.

It is not a coincidence that Cuban has been silent in his feelings about the league and the new commish since Silver replaced Stern in 2014. Not a lot of fines these days levied at Mark, who seems to be quite happy about the state of the league right down to the officiating.

Looks like NBA officiating is all fixed now, too.

As strong as Silver looked in his denouncement and punishment of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, he looks like a frightened kitten here.

Silver dropped the hammer on Sterling because he was afraid of the players, but it’s been nearly 24 hours since this stupid announcement went viral and the commish hasn’t said a word - because he’s afraid of Cuban.

So add Adam Silver to the list of people who can’t tell Cuban no. David Stern had enough money, longevity, support and power to be able to tell him to dial it down when it was warranted.

Times like right now.

All sports commissioners ultimately work for the respective owners, but to allow this for so much as a day is not only not a good look for Cuban, but reflects poorly on Silver’s reputation and authority.

If Cuban cares about Silver he will do the right thing and re-instate these media credentials immediately and quit worrying about such trivial matters that have no effect on his team in the least. Guys like Mark and Tim are pros who are just trying to do their jobs, and some of that means to point out the obvious - the Mavs just aren’t very good.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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