|Tuesday, January 8
Cuban says $500,000 fine is 'typical NBA'
ESPN.com news services
DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stood by his latest criticism of referees Tuesday, even after the NBA assessed a league-record $500,000 fine against him for his remarks.
"The fact of the matter is the NBA is more about power than it is about getting the best possible product or even protecting its players," said Cuban, a longtime critic of game officials. He was fined seven times last season for a total of $505,000.
The latest fine -- the largest against an individual in NBA history -- came in response to Cuban's comments about the officiating after the Mavericks lost to San Antonio 105-103 on Saturday.
It's typical NBA," Cuban told ESPN in an e-mail on Tuesday. "They didn't call me to tell me, I had to hear about it from someone else. They don't want to address the problems. There wasn't a single word that I said that I hadn't said to them privately a dozen times. More amazingly, a lot of people in the league agree with me, and still they won't do anything.
"There is definitely a premium on playing politics over smart business," Cuban continued in the e-mail. "Call it the Enron way. It's far easier to fine me than address the problems and, unfortunately, whether I ask the questions publicly or privately, the NBA doesn't care enough about its players or customers to do something."
The largest team fine was the $3.5 million NBA commissioner David Stern imposed on the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 25, 2000, for making a secret deal with star forward Joe Smith. Stern also voided Smith's contract and stripped Minnesota of five first-round draft choices. He later restored one of the picks.
The largest fine for an individual in all sports was $1 million. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue fined Eddie DeBartolo, then co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers, on March 16, 1999, for being involved in a Louisiana gambling fraud case. Tagliabue also extended DeBartolo's NFL banishment until at least February 2000. DeBartolo remains out of the league.
Cuban said he will match the $500,000 with contributions to charities as well. Cuban said he will give $375,000 to cancer research in the names of Joy Nelson (coach Don Nelson's wife) and Norris Curtis, and $125,000 to MPS in the name of Simon Ibell.
"I thought it was exorbitant," said Nelson of the fine. "I was very surprised with the amount. I thought it was going to be around $50,000. I guess the commissioner let him know who was in charge."
Cuban said he became angered Saturday when he thought Spurs center Tim Duncan traveled on several occasions.
"It happened multiple times right in front of me and they didn't do a thing," said Cuban, who has been especially critical of league director of officials Ed Rush.
"Ed Rush might have been a gret ref, but I wouldn't hire him to manage a Dairy Queen," Cuban said in a story in The Dallas Morning News. "His interest is not in the integrity of the game or improving the officiating."
Last month, Cuban said he had hired a "statistics expert" to track referees during every Mavericks game.
"I can't tell you how I do it," the owner said. "I got someone I trust, and I pay him a lot of money."
Cuban's first fine last season was $25,000 on Nov. 2, 2000, for criticizing officials after a game against Seattle. Within three weeks there were two more fines, one for $5,000, the next for $15,000.
On Jan. 1, 2001, he was fined $100,000 for sitting on the baseline during a game against Minnesota. Three days later, Stern imposed the $250,000 fine for criticizing officials after a game against Detroit. There was another $10,000 fine on Feb. 15 that was accompanied by a two-game suspension for running on the court to break up a fight in a game against Cleveland. Finally, on April 15, Cuban was fined $100,000 for making a derogatory gesture.
Cuban, who bought the Mavericks for $280 million in January 2000, decided to track the performance of officials this season because he thought the league was calling fewer fouls.
"The players and coaches know it, so they are more aggressive," he said. "My guess is that someone is going to get hurt as a result. If we just enforced the rules as they are ... we would have a much better game.
"Refs miss calls," Cuban said. "It's not one call that was the issue. It's when there are inconsistencies throughout the game that creates problems.
"A foul is a foul. A travel is a travel. If you see it, call it."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.