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Renegade Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $200,000 this week for his most recent antics. Half of the fine came from Cuban charging onto the court to protest an official’s call, and the other half resulted from Cuban criticizing officials on his Web blog.

Cuban has been fined over $1 million since he bought the Mavericks in January 2000, and I have loved every outspoken comment he ever made. Many folks dismiss Cuban as a guy with a big mouth and a lot of money who can afford to say anything he wants. Therefore, his comments are usually discarded and brushed off as a sideshow.

I must disagree with that characterization of the billionaire owner. Nearly every time Cuban condemns the officials, he has an excellent point. In addition, he knows the consequences, but he is man enough to still speak his mind.

Can you name four other owners in the NBA? Everybody knows who Mark Cuban is, and whether you dismiss him as a wacko, everybody should listen to this guy. He is a savvy businessman who made billions off his industries, and that is not something to take lightly in this world.

Cuban founded a computer consulting firm as well as broadcast.com before selling both to make the money he used to buy the Mavs. Despite turning around a pathetic Dallas franchise and making them a contender every year, Cuban still is mostly known for his outbursts against officials and the fines he has racked up over the years.

Nobody is going to fine me, and I would gladly ghostwrite Cuban’s rants here in this column only because he has a point. Ok--maybe running on the court was a little overboard, but $100k overboard? I don’t think so.

In his blog entry on 5/7/06, Cuban rips the selection process of officials for the NBA playoffs. Based on what Cuban suggested and on the official NBA policy for picking playoff referees, maybe the NBA should be thanking Cuban for his suggestions rather than fining him.

Instead of selecting the best officials to referee playoff games, the NBA uses the playoffs as a reward system for them. Officials get promoted to the playoffs, and the NBA whittles the regular-season pool of officials down from 60 to 33 for the playoffs.

The problem with this system, as Cuban points out, is the NBA should not be using the playoffs as a place to evaluate officials. He correctly says the NBA should be using the top twelve officials from the regular season to officiate in the postseason.

The playoffs are a bad place to experiment with officials who are not the best. A good majority of games in recent years has been determined by a referee’s call, and losing in the playoffs means losing money for the franchise; there can be no compromise on an issue of such importance.

Nobody even knows how the NBA evaluates the officials or what the exact criteria for getting “promoted” to the playoffs encompasses. Perhaps David Stern throws knives at a board with all the officials’ names on it, and the winners are selected that way?

Cuban says officials should be ranked from 1-12, and those top guys should then work a little harder and officiate all the playoff games. I would suggest a pool of 20 officials due to travel constraints, but Cuban is on the right track, and fining a guy for comments made in his blog is a bit out of hand.

Do the NBA and David Stern feel more powerful after levying a fine against Cuban? Why can’t an NBA owner make a valid point in his own blog and not be harassed by the league. Cuban is not a nutcase; he is an apt and credible businessman who just wants to be heard. Many of his rants are valid, and people should seriously consider his arguments.

This week’s comments drew headlines because of the fines, but nothing was reported in the media beyond the amount of the fine and his criticism of the officials. I had to actually go to his blog to see what Cuban was complaining about, and now it all makes sense.
There is a witch hunt going on in the 21st century, and Mark Cuban has evil tattooed on his forehead. He is not a bad guy, but rather a plain guy, a fan actually, who happens to own a team and is concerned about the product on the floor.

The Mavs’ owner might not win too many fans for his remarks, but hey, Mark; I got your back, and call me about that ghost-writing gig...anytime.

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