Mark Cuban is speaking out again, as his right to do so, this time it’s about the Olympics (again). Last weekend Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle announced Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki would miss a week’s worth of games to basically get back in shape. Basically Dirk took a very short break between the NBA Finals and playing for Team Germany in the European qualifiers for the Olympics. Once that was done Dirk took an extended vacation from basketball and didn’t start working out until November, leading to Dirk needing to take some time to get in shape. That led to this gem by Cuban.
“It’s just the epitome of stupidity that we would allow ourselves to be used so other corporations” — as Cuban calls the Olympics — “can make tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cuban said. “There’s some guys sitting at the Olympic headquarters going, ‘Those dumb-asses, we’re taking all their best guys for nothing.’ “
Thanks to Tim McMahon with ESPN Dallas for the quote. While I always thought of Mark Cuban as a shrewd businessman, I never thought of him as a guy who thinks about strictly business. Having the pros play in the Olympics helped spark interest in basketball across the world. Dream Team coach Chuck Daly summed it up best to NBA.com a few years back.
“It was,” said Coach Chuck Daly, “like Elvis and the Beatles put together. Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars. That’s all I can compare it to.”
The Redeem Team hitting China in 2008 has a smaller but similar effect, only it was like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Springsteen, Lil’ Wayne and Pearl Jam traveling together. For the record, Springsteen is Jason Kidd because of the age thing and Lil’ Wayne is Boozer because they’ve both made millions off mediocre skills. I’ll let you figure out the comparisons for everyone else.
For Team USA, the bottom fell out in 2004 when the Americans failed to medal, but that didn’t just mean the Americans were bad, it meant the rest of the world was catching up. Let me put it another way. In 1992, Dirk Nowitzki was 14 years old. He had probably known about the game of basketball, but guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were coming to Europe. Would the NBA have Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol or Cuban’s beloved Nowitzki be in the league? Would the Dallas Mavericks have ever sniffed a title or over a decade of success without Dirk?
Cuban also complained about Stern not even wanting to bring the issue of pro players competing in international tournaments to the table for the owners. Isn’t his wanting to unilaterly restrict NBA players from playing in the Olympics and its qualifying tournaments similar to Stern telling the owners he doesn’t want to discuss international tournaments with the owners? What I mean is why should Mark Cuban get to take away his player’s right to choose whether or not they’ll represent their country if he’s complaining about Stern taking away his ability to make that decision. Also, if he had his way, guys like Dirk don’t get to live out their dream of playing in the Olympics.
Look, Cuban’s Mavs have had some tough breaks when it comes to international competition. That sucks for him. You don’t hear Micky Arison complaining about his Big 3 playing for Team USA this summer. Dirk will be healthy in a week or two. Then he can go back to worrying about the fact that he’s younger than half his team and who should win Shark Tank.