In a sports world increasingly dominated by politically correct cliches, Cuban has a no-nonsense disregard for the kind of foolishness advocated by NBA commissioner David Stern.
The recent uproar surrounding basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him has given Cuban a chance to shine.
The brash, young owner of the Dallas Mavericks said the media circus currently revolving around the Bryant case will be a boon for the NBA.
His point is well taken. The infamous are more valuable to the entertainment industry than are the merely famous.
In sports, we see Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman and Michael Irvin representing their industry with shameful (and in some cases criminal) antics. What happens? The ESPNs and the sports fans love it.
Sure, some sports pundits express dismay when Tyson bites the ear off an opponent or rapes someone, but the media overkill just pumps up the star’s draw.
Well past his prime, when Tyson emerged from prison after serving time for rape, millions of people lined up to spend millions of dollars on pay-per-view broadcasts of him fighting anybody.
The fact that he was a convicted rapist did little to quell the boxing establishment’s enthusiasm for Tyson. Nor did the later incident when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight.
So it is neither unseemly nor unfounded for Cuban to suggest that the public will be titillated by the Kobe Bryant trial, leading to an increase in business for the NBA.
But you’d never know that from the public outcry that followed the Mavericks’ owner’s comments.
Mike Kahn, executive editor of SportsLine.com, said, “What Cuban did was trivialize a rape situation.”
He went on to say that the owner was just grandstanding and trying to capture more attention for himself.
Perhaps so, but if telling the truth in public is the new way egomaniacs go about getting on television, we could stand some more of it.
“From a business perspective, it’s great for the NBA. It’s reality television; people love train-wreck television and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that’s the reality today,” Cuban told “Access Hollywood.”
How is that trivializing a rape “situation?” And what exactly is a “rape situation?”
Then he appeared on ESPN’s “Sports Center.” Dan Patrick, one of the anchors on that show, interrogated Cuban, trying to say he was using the charges to his advantage.
Cuban said he was simply giving a truthful answer to a difficult question and was actually addressing an awkward topic – too rare an accomplishment by any public figure.
But Patrick continued, basically attacking Cuban for saying anything. That just made Cuban mad, and what he did next was truly remarkable.
He told Patrick that ESPN and the other news media are using the Bryant case to boost ratings. In the days following news of the charges, ESPN ran a story on its Web site saying the woman who claimed Bryant assaulted her had tried to kill herself a few months before the incident. Other media outlets actually published the accuser’s name, normally a taboo in the news business.
Patrick even said he was sure ESPN producers had probably sat down and met, discussing the impact the Bryant case and its coverage would have on their ratings and the profits of the Walt Disney Co., which owns ESPN.
No situation brings out the most despicable aspects of human behavior quite like hearing a “journalist” try to justify his actions and those of his company. How does one go about making a suicide attempt germane to a news story that took place months later?
Well, Patrick didn’t make much of a case. He said something like, “Well we have to cover it. It’s a news story.”
Sure, Dan, you have to cover it, but you don’t have to sensationalize it to where the alleged victim is more on trial than the accused.
Perhaps Dan Patrick and Daniel Stern and Mike Kahn are so angry at Cuban because they know a dirty little secret: He’s right. The NBA will get more publicity because of this case and next year’s Lakers will be even more of a draw because of all the hooplah. And why? Because Dan Patrick and Mike Kahn and the organizations for which they work will write tirelessly about this case and will devote hundreds of hours of coverage to it.
Daniel Stern has to pretend to be offended by Cuban’s simple words of truth, but he knows deep down inside that his league will be the ultimate beneficiary.
Who’s worse: the man who knows the truth and speaks it, or the man who knows it, denies it and profits from it?