mavericks are law, you are crime

1 04 2008

Some interesting things have been going on in Dallas recently. Things that speak not only to the possible psychological decay of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but to a growing culture of journalistic resentment towards the blogging community.

The fracas seems to have begun following a blog entry written following a Mavericks loss. Tim McMahon of the Dallas Morning News, a writer who publishes a Mavericks blog for the newspaper’s website, wrote an entry addressing among other things a growing fan dissatisfaction with head coach Avery Johnson. He specifically mentioned the website, which as its name suggests is devoted to the notion that the NBA’s beloved “lil’ general” should be terminated.


Shortly thereafter, it was announced that bloggers of any sort would not be permitted in the Dallas post-game locker room, regardless of their professional obligations (McMahon as a function of his job with the newspaper normally had that locker room access). McMahon was apparently told that this policy change was not affected by his pointed and critical article.

The blogger ban got a fair amount of play in the news, culminating in the NBA stepping in and demanding that Cuban revert back to the old policy. It makes every bit of sense for the NBA to make this move, seeing as pro athletes have managed to tap into the internet to enhance their public personas and popularity. Gilbert Arenas is a notable example, although his blog is not actually written by him, but by a team staffer that types while Gilbert rambles.

A truer example might be that of Golden State’s Baron Davis, whose participation on has galvanized his popularity amongst the Bay Area fans. Full of stilted English and exaggerated slang, Davis’ writings are not incredibly unique or insightful, but it’s no doubt enjoyable for an average fan to know that their favorite athlete felt like filling them in on what was going on. It’s a concept that has the potential to erode the barriers between players and fans in an entirely safe, communicative way that could be to the great benefit of the league, and it hinges on the concept of the blog. Their decision to can Cuban’s edict was likely a no-brainer.

Cuban reacted in a distinctly childish manner, stating as follows:

“Which means we will encourage all bloggers to apply, whether they be someone on blogspot who has been posting for a couple weeks, kids blogging for their middle school web site or those that work for big companies…we won’t discriminate at all.”

mark cuban

There is, of course, an inescapable irony here, as Cuban himself is a blogger. He operates, and is known for being the most outspoken and accessible owner in the NBA (he works dumb jobs just like us!). The everyman image that he’s cultivated through the years, though, doesn’t quite jive with his feelings regarding both the worth of internet publishing. A medium that allows everybody a voice and unprecedented influence would by its nature be something that I would have expected Cuban to approve of, and it’s a shame he doesn’t.

What’s a greater shame, however, is the news received by Mavs Moneyball, an NBA blog/community for Dallas fans. They’ve received word from the principal author of that Avery Johnson filed libel charges against them yesterday afternoon. Unless this turns out to be a very elaborate April Fool’s joke*, it’s disheartening. Regardless of whatever legal leverage Johnson may have in the matter (though I find it unlikely he has much), this lawsuit serves a dual purpose. It may deter the proprietors of, which I’m sure the Mavs organization would appreciate, but more importantly, it sends the message to internet scribes everywhere: do not fuck with us.

What bothers me most about this is that I suspect it wouldn’t be happening if the Mavericks, say, had beaten a team with a winning record since selling the farm to get Jason Kidd (that’s 0-10 against winning teams at last check), or to use a larger scope, if they hadn’t gotten their teeth kicked in by Golden State last year, or if they hadn’t caved against Miami the year before that. This all smacks of Mark Cuban wallowing in despair as his team’s title hopes fade, and thus attempting to tighten control on the aspects of his team he knows very well; the business and operating aspects.

As if I needed more reason to root against them these last couple weeks.

*Turns out it is, which I guess I should’ve realized sooner. Luckily, Mark Cuban can still act like a dork whether or not his coach is suing people. Seriously, though, apologies to Avery. Except for the silly voice and the maniac on the sideline routine. That’s still lame.