Mark Cuban: Your League is Rigged! (Update: Fined $250k)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban screamed “Your league is rigged!” to NBA commissioner David Stern after his team’s controversial loss to the Miami heat Sunday night, reports Miami Herald reporter Greg Cote.

”We Wuz Robbed!” has long been the handiest excuse of teams that cannot find a decent reason for their collapse that doesn’t involve the ignominy of a mirror. The convenience of alleging bad calls, or even willfully biased officiating (you’ll recall the Seattle Seahawks conducted a remarkable seminar in early February), also is the blame-dodge of choice among teams that cannot bear to properly credit the opponent.

And so there it was for all to see past midnight Sunday in Miami’s downtown bayfront arena: the sourest, saddest, sorriest display by a losing team that you’d ever wish to witness.

Not the loss itself; that was rather valiant. The reaction to it.

There was Cuban, whose billions can buy just about anything but a mortal slump by D-Wade, careening onto the court in a blue Jerry Stackhouse jersey after the final buzzer, screaming profanely at referee Joe DeRosa.

Cuban then turned to Stern and other NBA officials who were seated at the scorer’s table and was overheard to shout venomously in the jubilant din, “[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!”

Cote was on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show around 8:35 this morning defending this quote, which he alone has published. He admits that it is a “third hand” quotation that was passed from an unnamed “league official” to an unnamed source in whom Cote has great confidence. He says he emailed Cuban for a reaction (when, he doesn’t say) but did not get a response. I’ve now done the same.

Cote contends that he didn’t make too big a fuss about Cuban’s quote (it was several paragraphs into the article) because it is, after all, Mark Cuban, who has a reputation for spouting off. Still, this is beyond anything Cuban has said before and, given that he allegedly said it right there on the court after a nationally televised NBA Finals game, it’s rather odd that no one else is reporting this.

In a somewhat related matter, Cuban posted on his blog yesterday afternoon on the subject “Cursing.”

I like to curse. I like to curse because I enjoy how it gets everyone in an uproar. I wont curse in an environment where I have accepted an invitation or am a guest of someone else. I will play by their rules.

But if you come on my home turf and want something from me. Its my rules.

Last night in the locker room after we lost in overtime to the heat. I was asked by reporters to answer some questions. I told them i would if they asked good questions and didnt ask the same cliche’d questions they had asked after other games. It was interesting how quiet everyone got.

then someone asked “Is this your worst loss ever” . What the f@#^ kind of question is that ? Is this for a VH1 special ? “Worst Losses Ever ?” If it was, then maybe it was a decent question. Otherwise, how do you answer that question…


So I told the reporter to “Ask me a real f@#^ing question”

Apparently some folks have taken exception to me cursing in my response. Well in this case, the reporter was using my time, we were in a locker room and I was trying to provide a response that had no value to me, but could only help him. If he doesnt think enough of either of our time to invest the brainpower and minutes it takes to come up with something different than has been asked a thousand times.

F@#^ em.

Needless to say, the symbols are mine.

UPDATE: Post bumped to top from 0934. Cuban has been fined a cool quarter mil.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for his outbursts following Game 5 of the NBA finals. Cuban was cited for “several acts of misconduct” he committed after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime to the Heat in Miami on Sunday night.

Furious with several calls, Cuban went onto the floor to vent directly to official Joe DeRosa. He then stared down and screamed toward commissioner David Stern and a group of league officials, from the court, then the stands. He later used profanity during a postgame session with the media.

Announcement of the fine came hours before Game 6 of the NBA finals in which the Mavericks trail the Heat 3-2.

Cuban said Monday he was bracing for the fine, his second this postseason. He also was assessed $200,000 during the second round for going onto the court and for an entry on his blog criticizing the way the league selects officials for the playoffs.

Stern said Tuesday that he believes Cuban’s more vitriolic outbursts are “not healthy for either him or the game.” “I don’t think he is crazy. I think he is smart. I think his recent loss of self control is not planned and not calculated, and I think if he could, he would like to have some of it back,” Stern said in an interview on San Francisco radio station KNBR. “Because at bottom, I really do believe it distracts the players and that can’t be good. It sets a bad tone.

Cuban has a statement at his blog, Blog Maverick, unequivocably defending the League’s integrity.

The games are not rigged. Thats a complete insult to the players on the court and the incredible amount of effort they put into preparing for and playing the games. All 82 regular season and post season games. The NBA couldnt rig the games if it wanted to. And it doesnt want to. Its that simple

Do i like that i have gotten more than 12,000 emails in the last week and probably 80pct have questioned some level of honesty. No, I hate it. I hate it more than you will ever know because these are my customers, NBA customers, who are questioning our enterprise. Thats never a good thing and each one is a business hole I have to work harder to dig us out of.

Do I wish there was better communication from the league ? Yes. I dont like when my email box fills up with nonsense. Yes. I wish the league would just come out and explain events that occur in a game to the public. I think it would help the perception of our game. I think it would help fans better understand not only the rules of the NBA, but also the nuances, strategies and challenges of the game. I have suggested it. Many others have suggested it.

Getting an explanation pretty much eliminates everyones ability to question what just occured. Some media people have suggested that the same approach that MLB takes would work well. Simply allow reporters to ask officials questions after a game. Why not ?

He emphatically denies Cotes’ third hand report, though:

pparently the Miami Herald is reporting i screamed at the NBA comissioner after the game the other night. Didnt happen. Didnt say a word to the man. Not a single word. And that was absolutely by intention.

I believe him, incidentally.

While I find Cuban likable and think he’s an incredibly smart businessman, I agree with Stern that these outbursts are bad for the game. Cuban’s heart is in the right place–I think he’s genuinely trying to make the NBA better and many of his complaints about the quality of the officiating have merit–but his approach is wrong. That said, I think the idea that a man, even a billionaire, should be subject to fines of this ridiculous magnitude without much more substantial due process bizarre. Stern’s integrity in unquestioned but no man should have that amount of unchecked power.

Via IM from Jeff Quinton

OTB Sports

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eneils Bailey says:

    It’s common in the NBA, bad behavior.
    The NBA lost me years ago. Would not watch game seven of the finals if they played it on my driveway.

  2. ICallMasICM says:

    Cuban’s an idiot but it’s not like he’s necessarily wrong.

  3. Jim says:

    Cubanâ??s an idiot but itâ??s not like heâ??s necessarily wrong.

    Mark Cuban is living a dream…what NBA fan wouldn’t want to be in his shoes…a fan that happened to make enough money to buy a team. He never lost the fan in him and that makes him very different than the other owners in the league. He may be an idiot though if he truely believes what he reportedly said (that the league is rigged). If he really believed that why would he own a team?
    That being said…I am not so sure that the league isn’t rigged. I used to think that the conspiracy thinkers were just fans of teams that seemed to not get the close calls. After watching what happened in game 5…in which I truely had no clear cut team that I was rooting for….I am starting to think the rigged game crowd may have a point. We have only two ways to look at the whole situation. Either the league wanted Miami to win that game…or the refs were so incompetant that they made the wrong calls. Whichever way we believe it is BAD for the NBA. The league has a huge amount of money that can be made for everyone if the finals goes to 7 games. I don’t see what the league would have to gain by rigging a series so that one team could win it all. If I was a Dallas fan though I would be thinking the same thing that Cuban was saying. I guess in the end it isn’t a stretch for me to believe that a game or two wouldn’t be rigged to insure the highest amount of interest/revenue for a series. Afterall it is a business and the only reason it exists is for profits.

  4. David Harris says:

    My stance on the NBA being rigged has always been this: In a league where stars admittedly receive preferential treatment from the officials, it is infinitely easier to dictate outcomes to a game or series. What I think is more likely (and I have been an NBA conspiracy theorist for a decade) is that referees call games in such a way as to have a game go down to the wire, so the star players have a chance to “come through in the clutch”. This way, the outcome is still technically in the hands of the players and coaches.

  5. Wayne says:

    Wade and Oâ??Neal do get the superstar treatment. They can lower their heads and run over defenses and if the defensive player stays their ground the get call for a foul. How the rules are called typically depends on what status the player has. They have gotten better this year and start calling Oâ??Neal when he takes more then halve a dozen steps. That is why we had such trouble at the last Olympics, the official pretty much treat everyone the same.

  6. Anderson says:

    That said, I think the idea that a man, even a billionaire, should be subject to fines of this ridiculous magnitude without much more substantial due process bizarre.

    Sorry to be utterly ignorant of the NBA’s rules, etc., but I would guess that Cuban subjected himself to these rules by signing something when he bought the team? (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

    If that’s the case, & I don’t see how it could be otherwise, then I don’t see any due-process problem. Unconscionability is not going to be an objection for a zillionaire who can pay lawyers big bucks to read the contract and tell him what might happen.

  7. James Joyner says:

    Anderson: I haven’t read the NBA’s charter but I presume the commissioner has substantial power. Still, the amount of these fines has gotten astronomical in recent years, surely beyond anything Cuban could have reasonably been expecting based on past history.

  8. Adam Best says:

    What would you expect Cuban to say? Flat out accusing the league of being rigged could potentially cost him his franchise. Check out my blog for a different spin on this…

    The Absolute Best Blog

  9. ICallMasICM says:

    ‘Cubanâ??s heart is in the right placeâ??I think heâ??s genuinely trying to make the NBA better and many of his complaints about the quality of the officiating have merit’

    Somehow if he won I think he’d have had a lot less to say on the subject.