Mavericks Owner (With A Boner) Mark Cuban has long been an outspoken opponent of international summer competitions putting his highly paid NBA players and those of other franchises at risk of injury. In the wake of Paul George’s horrific mishap last Friday in Las Vegas, Cuban’s opportunity to say “told ya so” is slightly undermined by the New York Times’ Harvey Araton, who asks, “where, pray tell, would Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks be without Dirk Nowitzki, who in 1992 was 14 when the Dream Team bounded across his television screen in Germany and into the consciousness of young dribblers everywhere?”
By then, the N.B.A. was several years into an alliance with FIBA, the sport’s international governing body, with the mutually stated goal of growing the game by exporting the best of the best from the country that invented it. To a boy like Nowitzki, the Dream Team legacy was clear enough: grow tall, work hard, and possibly one day have it all, American riches along with Olympic rewards.
For the world’s professionals, including the shoe company ambassadors from the United States, those benefits have been mingled both tangibly and intangibly, contrary to Cuban’s charges that “the greatest trick ever played” was the International Olympic Committee’s “convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and pride instead of money.”
Major League Baseball wishes it could devise a formula to make its players available so the sport could be reinstated. That is why the N.B.A., with new growth frontiers in Africa and India, still needs the Olympics and why Cuban, when stretching the context of George’s misery to stand on his soapbox, sounded more like a manipulator than he did a maverick, a self-promoting television shark with a ravenous ego to feed.