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Are the Mavericks the real villains in the NBA?

May 31, 2011, 12:24 PM EDT

Mark Cuban AP

Hating the Heat is very trendy now. LeBron James going to Miami touched a nerve with fans and that has turned whomever they are playing into America’s team. Miami’s collection of talent just seems unfair to some, and players deciding to play together seems like cheating to them. The Heat are being blamed for ruining basketball, causing a run of players to big markets, high oil prices and drug- resistant bacteria.

But are the Mavericks really the bigger villain for the NBA? Specifically owner Mark Cuban’s freewheeling spending?

In a brilliant post, Tom Ziller over at SB Nation makes the case that Dallas’ flaunting of the salary cap and spending is a bigger problems than what happened in Miami.

Only one team has spent more money in the last decade than the Dallas Mavericks. Not the Lakers, not the Heat: only the New York Knicks, for a time led by an Isiah Thomas with a credit card and no conscience. The Mavericks have spent $851 million on payroll in the past decade, some $130 million more than the Lakers and $240 million more than the Heat….

The Mavericks work around the system by including draft picks in deals to get trades done … then buying back into the first round almost every single year, to the tune of $3 million a pop, cash that doesn’t count against the salary cap. Dallas works deals like the Peja Stojakovic buy-out/Alexis Ajinca trade this season. (What happened there? Oh, the Toronto Raptors decided to buy out Peja, taking a financial hit well in advance of the trade deadline. The Mavericks quickly signed him to a minimum contract. In a total and complete coincidence, the Mavs quickly traded prospect Alexis Ajinca to the Raptors with cash to cover his salary and a future second-round draft pick for the rights to a Greek dude who will probably never play in the NBA. The Mavs couldn’t legally trade for Peja without giving up a key player — a Stojakovic for Ajinca trade would have been illegal — so they borked the system set in place to limit salary, and did it through the back channels, claiming all the way that the deals were totally separate. Riiiight.)

You can make the argument that Cuban’s flaunting of the NBA’s soft cap and his spending is part of the reason for the coming lockout.

And the lockout will be far more villainous than the Heat.

(For the record, all those reasons Cuban may be bad for the NBA are exactly why I want him to buy my Los Angeles Dodgers.)

  1. pdbro - May 31, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Your definition of “brilliant” must not be the same one found in the dictionary. Talk about reaching for a story (Tom Ziller, not you).

  2. r0llinginthedeep - May 31, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Yeh, and then there’s the whole “Decision” thing, the self-serving introductory ceremony, Lebron advocating contraction (and subsequently claiming he didn’t understand it), Lebron acting like a tool for the majority of the year etc etc. (I’m not even a Lebron hater, just stating the facts)

    And that’s not to even mention the 2006 finals between the Mavs and Heat that was a refereeing travesty, guys like Dirk and J-Kidd (as well as others like Peja and JET) finally getting a ring, and also the fact that the Mavs are the underdogs.

    Yup, the Mavs are definitely “Villains” in this scenario.

  3. grizz2202 - May 31, 2011 at 1:20 PM

    While I can’t disagree with your logic for why the Mavs are villains, I disagree with your logic for why fans hate Miami. I don’t care about their “Big Three”, or “Big Two and a Half” as it is. The Celtics did it and they’re no more hated than they already were.

    The fans hate Miami because of LeBron, mostly, and “The Decision”. I liked LeBron in Cleveland. I do not like him in Miami after that PR disaster. Had he left Cleveland like a man, and not a clown, I would like him and Miami right now, plain and simple.

    Point is, don’t change the facts to fit your story (I know, it’s not a fact, just a subjective POV). But you could’ve left the Miami part out and just have said the Mavs are villains.

  4. delius1967 - May 31, 2011 at 1:32 PM

    Good for Miami that they were able to get high caliber players together and make it work; no one is (or should be) upset about that. It is the way they did it that grates on people, declaring themselves to be a dynasty before they had even played a game together.

    I was an admirer of LeBron before all this for his sheer ability and his commitment to making it work. Then he gives a big middle finger to the team that was built around him, and acts like his decisions are more important than… well, basically anything. If he had left humbly, and played humbly, I would be hard pressed to root against him. He has a role model in this regard right next to him in Wade, who tore out my Maverick-blue heart in 2006 but still has my respect. LeBron has lost it. And Bosh never had it.

    Maybe it is just my increased skepticism, but has anyone else noticed how often LeBron flops now? I mean, the guy is a physical freak; I don’t think there is a player in the league who could knock him over. Yet multiple times in the Chicago series he ended up on the floor drawing the offensive foul. And what’s worse, the cameras always seemed to show him laughing and nodding when he did so, like he is saying, Yeah, I just punked you. Flopping is part of the game, but if you are going to do it at least have the decency to act like you really did get knocked over.

    • hnirobert3 - May 31, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      I watched every second of the Bulls/Heat series and never saw him laughing after a flop. I rememember him winking at Spo after one of them, but not laughing. Pretty sure that would have been front page news if he had…

      • medtxpack - May 31, 2011 at 5:30 PM

        he laughed…

  5. coltsfanindc - May 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    its so nice to live in a good, Christian, forgiving society. for a person that didn’t even commit a crime just a bad PR show he get hated not just for a moment but forever. Good job America. let Roger Clemens, Brent favre, and kobe bryant be our sports heroes.

    • hnirobert3 - May 31, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      That’s the funniest thing about it all. You have athlete after athlete getting busted for crimes, fathering multiple children out of wedlock and not paying their child support, getting busted for PDA’s and LeBron, who was part of an embarassing PR disaster that was the brainchild of Jim Gray and ESPN, is the most hated man in sports? He was 25 years old when he made the Decision.

      Serious folks, get a life.

      • hnirobert3 - May 31, 2011 at 6:05 PM

        I meant PED’s, not PDA’s. HA!

    • david8726 - May 31, 2011 at 3:30 PM

      Great post.

      The amount of hatred toward LeBron is totally disproportionate to what he actually did.

      You’d think he’d got away with some terrible crime or something based on the amount of hatred that gets spewed around here at times.

    • grizz2202 - May 31, 2011 at 3:37 PM

      Look, we’re talking about “Sports Hate”, not actual vitriol.

      Yes, I would be most happy to piss on LeBron if he were on fire, in order to extinguish the flames (meaning I don’t hate him in the traditional sense).

      No, I would not be willing to buy a LeBron jersey, nor would I be happy if he were to get a championship ring over much more deserved players (meaning “Sports Hate”).

      LeBron has done nothing but serve himself since joining the NBA. And it’s hard to root for a guy like that. Forgiveness comes when you ask, not when you’re an ass. He’s made no attempt to seek forgiveness, because he sees nothing wrong with his actions. He has a sycophant (Maverick Carter) in his ear, telling him that the people that don’t like him are just “haters”, and he’s surrounded by other like-minded sycophants. He’ll have a great career, I’m sure, and as soon as the money’s gone, so too will be the suck-ups. He’ll have a broken body and empty life (like too many other former players).

      And if it makes you feel any better, I don’t really like Clemens, Favre, or Kobe either.

    • almzor - May 31, 2011 at 4:06 PM

      I could bring Hitler into the conversation, but it wouldn’t change what LeBron did. Other people’s wrongs will never make the way LeBron handled his free agency acceptable, a good idea, or something that should be emulated. We’re free to dislike him all we want for being an egocentric douche.

      As for Christianity, what does that have to do with anything? Religion shouldn’t be involved in sports anymore than it is involved in government.

  6. cooptroop08 - May 31, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    enough with the lebron bashing. I thought the decision was lame too. doesn’t mean I hate him or even dislike him for it. didn’t he raise money for charity with the decision?

  7. Bryce - May 31, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Yes (In response to the article Title)

  8. Bryce - May 31, 2011 at 5:45 PM


  9. 1historian - May 31, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    What’s the big deal? It’s his money.
    It’s funny watching these so-called writers trying to find a theme for this year’s finals – Hate Lebron, hate Miami, Cuban’s too much of a jerk to deserve a victory, etc. – ad nauseam.

    Just play the damn game.

    The show starts at 9 tonight? That means that by the time the game starts I’ll be asleep.

    lucky me

    go Mavs – Nowitzki (sp) has earned it and it was pleasant watching the lakers implode, courtesy of the Mavs.

    Those of you still troubled by ‘the decision’ – he has apologized for it about 5 times. If that’s not enough it’s YOUR problem not his.

    get over it

  10. coltsfanindc - May 31, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    not involving it in sports almzor. I’m speaking of the unforgiveness from ppl on here for a crimeless matter, yet other athletes have been forgiven for MUCH worse. u r free to dislike for whatever reason u like. I mentioned Christianity because that the type of nation we claim to be.

    • almzor - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:05 PM

      Maybe you claim to be a Christian nation, I certainly don’t. Religion has been the cause for more needless death than any other culprit in history and I certainly don’t need it to feel good about myself.

  11. coltsfanindc - May 31, 2011 at 8:24 PM

    and keep in mind u mentioned Hitler, to make a point in what LeBrons did to upset u. Hitler!! really, Hitler?? no more reason to debate u kiddo…

    • almzor - Jun 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      Learn to reply mate. Also, learn to read. My point is that Lebron’s actions stand on their own and bringing someone else’s actions in to make him seem less bad doesn’t work. My choice of counterpoint was hyperbole meant to heighten the absurdity of the logical move YOU tried to pull off. Don’t blame me for pointing out how ridiculous your stance is, pick better stances instead.

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