Monday, March 18, 2019


Mark Cuban’s off-base assessment of American NBA players.

January 2, 2019 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Prior to Christmas 2018, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban decided to play the role of the Grinch with some words while complementing European basketball and arguably back-handing American basketball and NBA players. Cuban’s team, the Dallas Mavericks, have one of the most exciting young NBA players in rookie Luka Doncic, who has started the 2018-19 NBA season as one of the early favorites for NBA Rookie of the Year.

Doncic, who is a 19-year-old from Slovenia, who has been playing professional basketball overseas since age 13 and developed his skills and experience primarily against adults prior to being drafted into the NBA last year. Instead of simply complementing Doncic’s early success and his preparedness, Mark Cuban decided to levy some criticism that could be viewed with some racial overtones.

During an interview with Eurohoops.net, Cuban was asked about how Doncic’s prior professional experience has assisted his NBA success thus far and said, “It is important because you’re used to people being older than you but I think he just learned how to play basketball and that’s the biggest gift. When you’re gifted as he is and you actually learn to play the game.

If you look at the basketball education of kids starting at 11-years old in Europe and particularly Slovenia which is basketball oriented. If we took our best kids and seven years before they are McDonald’s all-American, we sent them over to Slovenia to get an education, the league would be a thousand times better. They just learn how to play basketball while our guys learn how to taunt and put together mixtapes.”

It is the last few sentences of Cuban’s comments that stand out as veiled shots at American NBA players in a league where most of the players are still black Americans, even though the league has grown with international talent. Besides the fact that the NBA is as strong as its ever been in terms of talent and skill, as evidenced by the record setting three point and free throw efficiency, there are legitimate questions about how much of a “basketball education” that American basketball players need from European basketball leagues and programs.

During international FIBA competition, the United States has dominated all other countries, including the European countries, when the USA Men’s U16 National Team of top 16 year old or younger basketball play international tournaments. The USA Men’s U16 National Team has won the gold medal in all five editions of the tournament. Of course, USA men’s basketball has also regained its gold medal winning ways in recent Summer Olympics after struggling against international competition in the early 2000s.

Mark Cuban is certainly a smart and talented businessman and that was long before his appearances on television’s Shark Tank. He has also made some quality basketball decisions including the hiring of current Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle and committing long-term to future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. However, he also was the owner of an organization that had widespread organizational issues related to sexual harassment and workplace culture issues.

His views on how professional European basketball development would be better for American basketball players was not supported by much strong evidence. One of the most high profile Dallas Mavericks, Harrison Barnes, was a former McDonald’s All-American who did not like Cuban’s comments, made his own comments, “As a statement, I don’t agree with it. As a joke I don’t find it funny. And frankly I think it doesn’t reflect what makes the NBA special. The great thing about our league is that players come from all over the world. We are raised in every background imaginable and bring unique perspectives because of it. We should celebrate that. We bring those perspectives on each other, on issues in our communities and we aren’t afraid to learn from and share those perspectives. That’s our strength.” It is those words that show more perspective and maturity than Cuban’s and that comes from someone who did not “taunt” or “put together mixtapes” on his way to the NBA.

Staff Writer; Mark Hines


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