The Dallas Mavericks‘ ubiquitous owner Mark Cuban is no stranger to controversy, and this past week was no exception.

FILE – In this Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 file photo, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban looks on from the crowd during NBA All-Star Saturday in Los Angeles. The NBA has fined outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 for comments about tanking during a podcast with Hall of Famer Julius Erving. Commissioner Adam Silver said the fine was for “public statements detrimental to the NBA.” (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)

In possibly the worst week of his ownership of the NBA franchise he transformed from laughingstock into perennial contender, Cuban has been hit with not one but two devastating ordeals.

The Mavericks were the subject of a shocking exposé on Feb. 20 as reports surfaced revealing the team’s president allegedlyengaging Ed in “various acts of inappropriate conduct toward women.” But things got worse for Dallas just a day later as the NBA announced that Cuban would be fined $600,000 for making public comments that were deemed detrimental to the league.  Those comments centered around what Cuban believes is the he best way his franchise can rise from their recent misfortunes – by tanking its season to increase their chances of getting a high draft pick.

The comments about intentionally losing to improve draft position were made on NBA Hall-of-famer Julius Erving’s podcast. During the podcast, Cuban openly admitted what fans of the Mavericks have been seeing is indeed taking place.

“I’m probably not supposed to say this,” Cuban said, “but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren’t competing for the playoffs. I was like, ‘Look, losing is our best option.’ ”

He added, referring to NBA Commissoner Adam Silver: “Adam would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we’re not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that’s the key to being kind of a players’ owner and having stability.”

Now, do you actually fault a team owner for being 100 percent real? Or, as a paying customer, would you be angry that this is indeed the method he has chosen for the franchise to improve?

I side with Cuban in this instance.  It’s common NBA knowledge that unless you are extremely lucky, a la Golden State, it’s not going to be easy putting together a championship team with mid-to-late draft picks. Golden State was able—somehow—to draft a skinny, smallish shooting guard from Davidson University in Steph Curry, a late-lottery selection who was suspended late in his final college season for marijuana in Klay Thompson and a second round pick in Draymond Green. But, they’re the exception, not the rule. Generally, the best players are found near the top of the draft, and that’s where Cuban wants Dallas’s to be positioned.

In all sports, you can see the effects of tanking and the final results.  In baseball, the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals are all reaping the benefits of tanking from the early 2010s.  In basketball, the Philadelphia Sixers are in the midst of “trusting the process” with their team being centered on three high lottery selections  in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.

Tanking actually works, and I hope Cuban’s Mavericks can pull themselves out of the cellar because if this doesn’t work, what else can he really do?

 

Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO