Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban has never been afraid of injecting himself into a situation, and Tuesday night's game against the Denver Nuggets was just another example.
Cuban took exception to an elbow that was thrown by the Nuggets' J.R. Smith to the head of the Mavs' Antoine Wright near the end of the first half. While it didn't connect, Cuban didn't like what he saw, and wasn't afraid to have a little dialogue with Smith about it as the teams headed into halftime.
"My conversation with J.R. was actually very cordial and levelheaded. I told him that it's not cool to throw elbows at someone's head, that I would be turning it into the league. He politely and cordially told me our player (Wright) had grabbed him before that. I told him that, if our guy did something wrong, I will say something to the player and he should turn it into the league . No 'barking.' There were several other Nuggets right there. They made the point to tell me J.R. and our guy 'had history.'"
According to Cuban, a representative from the Nuggets instructed him not to talk to their players, but when Cuban said he'd like to discuss it with him then, the rep walked away.
After the game, Denver coach George Karl was upset that Cuban dared to talk to one of his players, and felt that the behavior was completely out of line.
"I don't care if Cuban barks, but he shouldn't be barking at my players," Karl said. "He barked at J.R. at halftime. I thought it was very unprofessional, irresponsible. And, if he sees something that he wants to deliver to the league, fine, he can do that."
J.R. Smith, for what it's worth, had no hard feelings about his discussion with Cuban, and even sent him a signed pair of his shoes after the game as a gesture of goodwill. Cuban, perhaps still stinging from his team's last second loss as much as the incident with Smith itself, was in no mood to accept.
"The humorous part of the whole thing was that, after the game, J.R. sent over to our locker room a signed pair of shoes for me," Cuban wrote. "I sent them back, saying he should sell them, if you could get anything for them, to help pay for the fine he was going to face."
Now that part just isn't cool. I'm okay with Cuban talking to players on a "cordial" level as he put it, especially because it's something that apparently goes on all the time. But slamming the value of a player's autographed memorabilia? That's crossing the line, man.
While this juicy little back-and-forth is the type of stuff that NBA die-hards love to hear about, did Cuban really do anything wrong here? It's not like he ran onto the court to confront a player, he simply told him that he didn't appreciate something he did to one of his own players as the two walked into the tunnel.
Cuban said he told his own player (Wright) not to retaliate to Smith's elbow, so if by talking to Smith (again, calmly) during halftime helped to bring attention to the situation -- and possibly prevent it from escalating, as Cuban also mentioned -- than Karl's feelings aside, it doesn't seem like Cuban's actions were all that harmful.
Mark Cuban 'Barks' at J.R. Smith for Elbowing Mavs' Wright originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Wed, 14 Jan 2009 17:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.