Last year, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave Mavericks owner Mark Cuban a mulligan. This year, Silver fined Cuban more than a half a million.
The NBA has announced that Silver has fined Cuban $600,000 for his latest round of comments admitting to a tanking campaign lasting more than a year. Cuban admitted to tanking a year ago, but Silver pretended that Cuban didn’t. This time around, there was no way to ignore it.
From the perspective of a league desperate to ensure the integrity of its games (especially with legalized gambling on the horizon), a fine isn’t enough — no matter how big it is — when someone brazenly admits to giving in to the obvious temptation to enhance draft position. Silver should have taken a draft pick from Cuban, ideally the first-rounder that he has been trying to enhance via tanking.
It won’t stop tanking, or remove the temptation to do so, in the NBA or any other sport. Far more importantly for the NBA, it will make it clear to Cuban and all other owners that, if they’re going to tank, they’d better make sure they don’t admit it.
The smart approach, albeit an untruthful one, would be to react the same way Giants co-owner John Mara did when confronted with the obvious reality that benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith was aimed at turning a lost season into a prime draft pick.
“That’s complete b—s—,” Mara said. “We would never do that.”
Sure you would, John. Because you did. But you’d never admit to it. And, unlike Cuban, you definitely wouldn’t admit to it twice.