In the last several days, Mark Cuban has slowly crept into the spotlight directed toward Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Fans of Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks may very well be experiencing mixed feelings regarding the attention on the owner — in fact, they may not actually know what to think about the whole thing.
In truth, the fact that Cuban has not shied away from the subject only reinforces the attitude and perspective that has made so many of the Maverick faithful proud to have an owner like him. In this media-wide conversation about race, Cuban has, as usual, refused to just go with the crowd. See, it would be easy to join in on the mob mentality shared by seemingly everyone else who has tossed in two cents, but Cuban has never done anything because it was easy. He stands for what he believes, and, in this case, he appears to believe that Sterling has exhibited some areas of ignorance, but that his private statements and feelings have no place in a business-related decision-making process.
That’s Cuban being who he is. He doesn’t go against the grain just for the sake of going against the grain the way some celebrities and journalists do, but he also doesn’t cower away from going against the grain when it might be a difficult route. On some level, Mavericks fans must be thinking, “thank God for Cuban,” or something like that.
On another level, however — on the level of a follower of the franchise who has seen his team chase three superstar free agents in the last two summers without catching any of them — those same fans have to be cringing. NBA players have made it mostly clear that they stand united against Sterling and race-related hatred, and that they aren’t interested in the legal complexities that might complicate the process of resolving the issue in the coming weeks … Or months … Or years. The feelings of the players seem to be summed up as rejection of racism, whether public or private.
And here’s the issue: While there may be some legitimate issues regarding the legality of the action taken by the NBA against Sterling in response to his private statements, Carmelo Anthony will break no laws if he decides to decline signing with a team because he believes there’s a chance that its owner bears any tolerance for racism. Should LeBron James opt to become a free agent, no one can punish him if he chooses not to sit down with representatives from a team with an administration who has expressed a set of values with which he does not agree. When Kevin Durant hits the free-agent market in a few years, maybe Cuban’s presence in this race-driven conversation will turn him off to the idea of giving the Mavericks a chance.
It’s great that Cuban stands up for what he believes in — he always has, and Dallas fans have always been grateful for it. And maybe this issue won’t bear any effect on the appeal of playing for the Mavericks to players around the league. But with a topic as polarizing as race, there’s always a chance.
Brian Ogle is a Dallas Mavericks writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheOgle.