BILLIONAIRE Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s mouth has gotten so big that NBA refs think he’s a threat to the game itself.
That is the conclusion reached in a recent series of memos given to the NBA’s 64 referees by the National Basketball Referees Association, according to Yahoo! Sports. Included in the memos was a series of conversations between Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, and, Lee Seham, the NBRA general counsel, where the two men essentially debated just how dangerous Cuban really is.
“We consider the threat to the integrity of NBA basketball presented by Mr. Cuban’s misconduct to be real and growing,” Seham said in one of the memos which was sent to Spruell.
Spruell, however, was having none of Seham’s guff and basically told the NBRA lawyer that Cuban was no different from any other owner.
— The Vertical (@TheVertical) January 13, 2017
Seham went on to describe how Cuban threatened officials’ careers, openly swore at them from his seat near the Mavericks’ bench, and laughed in the face of the NBA’s attempts to control his behaviour through monetary fines.
“No other owner has communicated to our members with such force that he exercises control over their careers. He has communicated that he played a pivotal role in the termination of Kevin Fehr, a referee who met league performance standards,” Seham wrote. “He has communicated to an NBRA board member, during contract negotiations, that the referees would continue to be at-will employees. He has told a referee, during a game, that he follows that referee’s game reports.”
Cuban also threatens referees in real time as he sits courtside.
In one incident taken from a referee’s game report which was highlighted by the NBRA, Cuban called a referee’s first name and yelled, “you f —d up this game” before adding, “you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
In another case, in a game against San Antonio, Cuban flipped out on a “chicken s –—t” ref and “when the official looked in the direction of the bench to see who made the remark, Mr. Cuban reportedly added, ‘That was me. I said it.’
Seham provided further proof of Cuban’s supposed entitlement by highlighting the owner’s flippancy towards fines.
“Mr. Cuban’s practice of mocking NBA fines, by donating twice the fine dollar figure to charity, has convinced the NBA that it cannot deter his misconduct in this manner … The abandonment of any enforcement action by the NBA has communicated to Mr. Cuban that he can violate league rules … with impunity,” Seham wrote in a memo sent to refs in 2016.
Cuban, a long-time critic of the NBA’s officials, barely addressed the referees’ criticism, when he was reached for comment by Yahoo, and instead suggested that their thin skin was part of the problem.
“To suggest I have influence is to suggest that the NBA officials can be influenced,” Cuban told Yahoo.
“If an official can be influenced by pressure from anyone, they should not be in the NBA. I don’t believe they can be influenced. As far as my influence on employment, several years ago I sent a list to the NBA of officials who had been NBA officials for more than a decade and never made the playoffs.
“I asked why we weren’t bringing in better officials than those who weren’t able to crack the top half of officials … I also asked if being an NBA official was a lifetime job and at what point do we recognise that there is someone else out there who can do a better job? I did this knowing that any terminated refs could receive substantial pensions. As far as anything else, I’ve been the same way since I bought the team and have no reason to change.”
Since purchasing the Mavericks in 2000, Cuban has been hit with over $1 million in fines by the NBA, according to the report.
He also spoke with an experienced former FBI agent about possibly investigating the NBA’s referees after his Mavericks lost to the Miami Heat in the 2006 Finals, according to an investigation conducted by The Oregonian.
The retired agent, Warren Flagg, said that Cuban was so pissed off about the way the series went down — Dwyane Wade shot an astounding 97 free throws over the course of the six-game series — that he considered suing the league.
“I told him, ‘Sue and you’ll win your case,’ but he knew he’d be killing the Golden Goose,” Flagg said.