NBA fines owner Mark Cuban $500,000, rejects Mavericks’ protest of Hawks game

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $500,000 and denied the Mavericks their protest of a Feb. 22 game against the Atlanta Hawks.

The fine was for Cuban’s “public criticism and detrimental conduct regarding NBA officiating.”

It is just one of many significant fines the NBA has levied against Cuban, including a $600,000 fine two years ago when Cuban said it was in the best interest of the Mavericks to tank.

Following a game last month in which Cuban disagreed with a call by the referees and the Hawks beat the Mavericks, Cuban went on a Twitter storm, blasting the NBA, referees and the NBA’s officiating program.

“Just when you think the NBA officiating can't get any worse , guess again. This is absurd,” Cuban tweeted.

He also tweeted, “Refs have bad games. Crews have bad games. But this isn't a single game issue. This is the same (expletive) that has been going on for 20 years . Hire former refs who think they know how to hire, train and manage. Realize 2 years later they can't. Repeat.”

The league issued an 832-word statement that served as an explainer of why the protest was denied and rebuke of Cuban’s comments.

Mark Cuban has been owner of the Mavericks since 2000. (Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

“Immediately after the game ended, Mr. Cuban walked onto the court and approached game officials shaking his head and directing comments toward them,” the league’s statement read. “This marked the second time he walked onto the court to challenge a call during the game. Following the game, Mr. Cuban spoke to reporters in the arena and tweeted several times that night and into the next day with comments that were highly critical, personal and demeaning to the league and its officiating staff. The next day, Dallas filed its protest of the game pursuant to league rules. Over the course of the next several days, Mr. Cuban continued his public criticism of NBA officiating.

“After a comprehensive investigation, Commissioner Silver determined there was no misapplication of the playing rules. The Replay Center Official correctly understood the rules to require that (John) Collins’ basket count if he was in the act of shooting when the goaltending call was made. The Replay Center Official also correctly followed the established process of replay review.”

The league did not hold back in its disapproval of Cuban’s behavior.

“It is a recognized part of sports for fans and the media at times to criticize officiating, but team executives must be held to a higher standard,” the statement said. “A team owner’s effort to influence refereeing decisions during and after a game creates the perception of an unfair competitive advantage and thereby undermines the integrity of the game. Demeaning league employees also creates an intimidating workplace environment. With an increased focus on respectful conduct by coaches, players and fans during games, the actions of team executives should set an example and not lower expectations for appropriate behavior in our arenas."

The league also pointed out there are formal channels for team executives to voice concerns about officiating. The NBA also listed the improvements that are a byproduct of those channels, including increased collaboration with the competition committee, transparency, the Last Two-Minute Reports, analytics used to evaluate officials, feedback from head coaches, expanding pipeline of NBA officials and use of executives and former top referees to lead the refs.

“Officiating is one of the toughest jobs in sports,” the league said in the final paragraph of its statement. “While officials remain accountable for their on-court performance, maintaining competitive fairness and the integrity of the game is a fundamental obligation of the league office, team owners and personnel, and players.”

Follow NBA reporter Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter. 

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