The best thing about a blog…

…is that I get to respond to the media.

This is the email I got today from a columnist at the Dallas Morning News:

-Original Message-

From: “Blackistone, Kevin”

To: “mark cuban (E-mail)”

Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 13:25:33 -0600

Subject:

Mark,

You’ve diverted my attention for the moment from the tournament. (If youwant in on our pool, though, let me
know.) The following is what I’m writingabout for Tuesday:

One, I understand you want to protect your guys, your investment, but Bruce Bowen is just a tough
one-dimensional player, not a dirty, I don’t think. The thing with Fin was bad, though. And just a few years ago, of
course, was the whole Juwan Howard-Spurs thing that knocked Derek Anderson out of the playoffs. Now, that was
bad.

Second, why not leave it to your coaches to coach Josh on how to handle the pressure. Plus, he’s an ACC
Player of the Year who logged four seasons in that league. He probably knows about playing tough.

KBB

PS Just curious, but not from a writing stand point: Did you ever haveanyinterest in Vin Baker?

Here is my response to him:

The stuff about a bounty on Bowen is bullshit. Never happened. And I know you like the separation of church and
state, and don’t like me near the players, but that’s your issue, not mine.😉

Here is the reality. WhatI do know is the tendencies of officials better than anyone on our team and
probably better than anyone in the league.

I pay to track it, and I pay attention to the information I get.

It’s not unusual for me to tell Del or our players for things to watch out for from specific officials. Are they
more likely to call blocks vs. charges, 3 seconds or not, etc. In this case we had a very good head official one
of the best in the league whose tendency is to let the guys play. He is the same official that told our guys
before a Spurs playoff game last year that this is going to be “just like in the backyard, call your own fouls.” The
same ref from the Brad Miller vs. Shaq game, and I can give you other examples of well officiated, but physical, games.
That is whyI was speaking to Josh.

I spoke to him in a break after Bowen had got up underneath Josh and was slapping at him when he had the ball. It
could be argued whether it was a legal guarding position or not, but that’s why I told Josh to legally use a ball swipe
to clear space. This was going to be a physical game and because he was the rookie he could be the one that
got the tech and I would pay the fine for it. Josh is certainly not the type to backdown from anyone, but all players
get confused from time to time trying to figure out how a game is going to be called. I knew exactly how this game was
going to be called once it got going, and that is why I said something to Josh.

Thanks,

M

This is what he wrote. Note that he conveniently used only part of my response to make it seem likemy comments
to Josh werein response to Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley getting into it. Unfortunately, he ignored the part of
my response that said it was not. My conversation with Josh was long before Fin and Bowen got into it.

And of course, this intrepid columnist completely ignored and left out the entire reason I was talking to Josh so he
could come in with a slam about why I shouldn’t be talking to players. How convenient for him.

From the Dallas Morning News’ Kevin Blackistone:

It was an ugly incident between the Mavericks and the Spurs and at the worst of times. This is not a recollection
of the Bruce Bowen-Michael Finley battle from a few nights ago, however. I’m recalling the second round playoff matchup
between Dallas and San Antonio three springs ago, when the Mavericks were happily participating in the club’s first
postseason in a decade.

In the opening contest, Juwan Howard, with the Mavericks then, struck Derek Anderson while Anderson was airborne
readying to dunk. Anderson landed hard and awkwardly and suffered a separated shoulder.

Howard was ejected. The Spurs were left fuming, calling it a dirty play.

In the next game, the Spurs’ Danny Ferry fouled Howard hard. The refs issued Ferry a flagrant.

Late in the third game, with the contest all but over and the Mavericks beaten, Howard knocked Malik Rose to the
floor. It was called a flagrant foul, too, and rightfully so. It was as unnecessary in its roughness as it was in its
timing. Howard should’ve been booted.

But Spurs owner Peter Holt, as best we know, did not tell his players he would pick up the tab for a league fine if
they got a technical for retaliating against Howard. That would be bush league, or National Hockey League, if you
will.

That, however, was Mark Cuban’s reaction to the forearm shiver Spurs defensive pest Bowen gave Finley a couple of
Fridays ago, baiting Finley into a response that led to Finley’s ejection.

Cuban reiterated his thought to me Monday: “I was speaking to Josh [Howard]. I spoke to him in a break after Bowen
had got caught up underneath Josh and was slapping at him when he had the ball. It could be argued whether it was a
legal guarding position or not, but that’s why I told Josh to legally use a ball swipe to clear space. That this was
going to be a physical game, and because he was a rookie, he could be the one that got the tech, and I would pay the
fine for it.”

A league official confirmed Monday that it is investigating Cuban’s comments. “We’re looking into it,” the official
said.

And you wonder how it is that certain players earn reputations as ruffians. Josh Howard doesn’t need it. The league
can’t afford to condone such things, either.

How can Cuban cry bloody murder over a questionable play by an opponent after standing by one of his players after
that player committed a far more dangerous act against an opponent? That’s disingenuous.

There is nothing wrong with looking out for your athletes, an investment in the hundreds of millions of dollars,
but not the way Cuban just did it. Make a report to the league. Let it handle the situation, as it did the other day by
fining Bowen and issuing him the flagrant foul the refs failed to pin on him.

Leave the playing of the game, and the coaching of it, to those employed to do so. They know the game the best, or
should.

Josh Howard has been playing basketball for quite some time. He played for four years in one of the toughest
college conferences in the country, the ACC, and was its player of the year last season. No doubt he learned long ago
how to deal with a physical player, even one like Bowen, whose tactics have been questioned by some of the league’s
best players, including Ray Allen and Vince Carter. Carter suggested not long ago that Bowen undercut him and caused
him an ankle injury. Bowen was fined a couple of seasons ago for kicking Wally Szczerbiak in the face, although it
appeared accidental.

Maybe he is a dirty player, but imagine how Cuban would embrace him on this team. A player known for being a
tenacious defender, no matter how borderline to being dirty, is a missing ingredient here.

The usually even-tempered Finley dealt with Bowen knocking him to the hardwood by returning the favor.

Enough.

Basketball has become plenty physical. It doesn’t need encouragement. It doesn’t need to become the dangerous
tit-for-tat game inside the game that manifests itself in baseball-turned-beanball and hockey-turned-back alley
brawl.

Not only that, but Cuban spends a lot of money employing so many coaches that they need a second row of seating at
games. If Howard needs to be reminded or taught how to shed a defender, the coaches can do it, especially those who’ve
played the game and done so in recent memory, like Ro Blackman. A player doesn’t need the owner telling him what to do,
especially if it’s out of bounds, anymore than the owner needs a player telling him how to price tickets.

E-mail kblackistone@dallasnews.com

The sad part of all of this is that despite his disregard for the facts, Blackistone is one of the better
columnists.

That speaks volumes about his profession.

One thought on “The best thing about a blog…

  1. Hey Mark, I had to re-read the string a couple of times but can see why it pissed you off, and how you got started writing this blog. It was a definite selective interpretation of your retelling of what happened, and that\’s putting the best light on it. Unfortunately, Blackistone is a columnist, quite a different thing from an actual sports reporter. Columnists as a rule don\’t really report… they editorialize. Albeit they use their sources and do research, but they\’re given way more license by their editors. Now that the guy shits on his sources like that sucks, but I can\’t say I\’m surprised. I do watch ESPN\’s \”Around the Horn\” after all. Most of us (journalists) are good guys and we do a thorough job. But like anyone else we aren\’t perfect. I\’m not condoning Blackistone\’s column and omission of that critical detail, but mistakes happen. Unless when confronted by you later he flipped you off and told you to eat it, maybe he missed those couple of words. I don\’t know, but I suspect he\’s learned his lesson. Or maybe not.

    Comment by Ryan Gray -

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