Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on NBA suspending season: ‘Not about basketball or money’

Mark Cuban said he’d only seen something like this before in the movies. Such is life as part of a global sports league dealing with an international pandemic. 

“This is crazy. This can’t be true,” the owner of the Dallas Mavericks told ESPN during an in-game interview when asked about his initial reaction to the league’s decision. “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”

Cuban was quick to point out the coronavirus outbreak has much more serious consequences than wins and losses or even revenue, especially with Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz already believed to have been diagnosed with the disease. 

“I trust (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver),” Cuban said. “You know what, it’s really not about basketball or money. Literally, if this thing is just exploding to where all of a sudden players and owners have it, you think about your family. You really want to make sure you’re doing this the right way. Because now, it’s much more personal. You see what’s happening in other countries … stunning isn’t the right word. It’s crazy.” 

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ESPN cameras caught Cuban with his jaw dropped as he learned of the news in the third quarter. He immediately showed his huddled players the news during a game break, and also alerted the referees. 

“I’m not an expert and I’m not even going to try to be an expert,” Cuban said. “Our plan here was to defer to the NBA. They have people who specialize in this. They’re talking to the CDC, the World Health Organization, HHS.” 

Cuban also discussed the effects of suspending games for arena employees, who are paid an hourly wage based on working those events, with the goal of formulating a plan to compensate them. The details are a work in progress, Cuban said, but “it’s certainly something that’s important to me.” 

Cuban said the league told teams they could still hold practice and treat players for injuries.

“We have to be smart in how we respond,” he said after the game. “This is people’s lives at stakes. This isn’t about basketball, this isn’t about the Mavericks. This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake. I’m a lot more worried about my kids and my mom who is 82 years old — in talking to her and telling her to stay in the house — than when we play in our next game.”

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