Thursday, May 11, 2006

Asshole of the Week: Day Late (for me) $100K Short (for Cuban)

So, yes, I am a day late. Lo siento. Anyway...


The NBA fined Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $200,000 for going onto the court after Game 1 of Dallas' series against the Spurs and criticizing league officials on his blog.

Cuban was fined $100,000 for going onto the court and another $100,000 for being critical of the league regarding the selection of playoff officials, and how to improve playoff officiating on
Ok, run on the court, you get fined - I'm largely down with that. (Though he owns the team so certainly has more right to be on the court than some yahoo in say...Detroit. Note that I'm not calling for Jermaine O'Neal to deck him or anything.)

But $100K for blogging about how to improve the officiating? Come. On. First of all, I think sports leagues have gotten pretty ridiculous about fining people for bitching about the refs. That's largely part of the game, folks. And as if any fan is going to think "Phil Jackson said the league is out to get us! Why does David Stern hate America Los Angeles?"

Well yes, the fan might actually think that (or more likely the opposite, that David Stern hates anybody playing against the Lakers), but not because of some Jedi-Zen pontification - "There was no foul - these are not the players you were looking for - move along" - but because they actually watch the games and come to the not-exactly-shocking (or original) conclusion that NBA officiating is godawful.

To many NBA fans this:

means this:

In a dramatic and controversial finish, Johnson got a favorable ruling from one of the officials with 5.7 seconds left, converting a 3-pointer and the ensuing foul shot to give New York a stunning 92-91 victory Saturday night.

"I don't know if it was the right call, I've just never seen a call like that," Pacers general manager Donnie Walsh said.
Of course, Donnie is wrong, we see calls like that all the time - A Dick Bavetta Game is a well known playoff phenemenon - (see 2002 Sacto-Lakers, Game 6.)

To bring it to a point, Mr. Commish, it's not the people complaining about the refs which is 'undermining the integrity of the game,' or whatever other horseflop you're peddling this week, it's the poor performance of said referees.

And that aside, let's consider Cuban's actual suggestions, shall we?
During the regular season new refs will come into the league and as might be expected, there will be ups and downs that come with new officials.

The playoffs are different. THe playoffs are where teams and the NBA itself earn their money. Its where team profits are made, its where TV ratings are made and when TV ratings are good, the league makes more money.

In other words, the playoffs are our money product. As with every business, the best people should be on the job with the money products. Thats not the way the NBA does it when it comes to officials.
First - DUH. The playoffs are the most important part of the season - there's a reason TNT shows two games a week for 5 months and then carpet-bombs us into hoops-satiated satisfaction with 40 games in 40 nights (either that, or force us to watch bad Josh Hartnett movies in lieu of post game with, Charles)

Second, I'm not seeing any specific criticism of referees yet, just that the L doesn't make every effort to appoint it's best refs to the most important games. But wait, he's not just bitching, he has constructive suggestions!:
Would the officiating improve if the top 12 officials worked the games instead of the top 33 or so. There is absolutely no question about it.

Would it strain the officials more to possibly work a back to back? Yes. So pay them a bigger bonus for being selected for the playoffs. Its certainly no more a strain on the officals than it is the players and we have no problem asking players to work back to back. . .

The playoffs are our most important, most visible product. They should never be used as a stepping stone for promotion.

Instead, the NBA should rank its officials, seed them if you will. Top 12 get playoff assignments. Thats it. If an official does a great job and rises to the top 12, he or she gets the reward. If not, not.

Giving less qualified officials an opportunity to officiate playoff games as a reward gives the official a nice attaboy, but it risks the quality of our product.

It makes absolutely no sense to do it the way it is currently done. If the league wants the best officiating in every game, only use the best officials. Anything less cheats us all.
So what the hell did he say that was so bad? Anyone? Help me out here, he has a pretty strong financial interest in the playoffs being succesful, owning a team and all, so isn't it kinda his job to be watchful of such things? Is there anything that even suggests that Dan Crawford, Greg Willard and Mark Wunderlich did a poor job in Game 1 of the Spurs-Mavs series?

Is there any way to view this fine other than the brain-wizards telling Cuban to sit down, STFU and let the grownups handle the league (and by extension, Cuban's money)?

1 comment:

Icepick said...

The problem is that Cuban ignores the league and goes straight to the public with his complaints. If he's interested in improving officiating, Cuban should be involved with the league behind the scenes. He is a billionaire insider, afterall, and not some poor put-upon victim.

Doing what he's doing only embarasses the league and it looks like special pleading. Does Cuban really want better officiating, or does he want his team to be the beneficiary of shitty calls? Doing it publically looks more like the latter.

Basically, he's pumping up himself at the expense of the league, and he ought to be fined $1,000,000 next time he does it, and if he persists, the league ought to take action to force him to sell the Mavs. Trying to drag everyone else down so he can look like a whistle-blower with street cred is bullshit. Cuban is nothing more than a showboater with no concern for anyone else.