Two weeks ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made a decision that wasn’t in his playbook. It wasn’t proposing a trade that would elevate his NBA team out of the lower levels of the Western Conference nor was it funding some wacky invention or company on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
He went out and decided what was news and what wasn’t.
Bleacher Report posted a tweet on Feb. 24 with a GIF showing forward Dirk Nowitzki messing up a shot attempt. The caption with the tweet read “DIRK FOREVER” and fit in with the website’s usual postings. These types of quick-hit content that convey an emotional message — be it humor, sadness or respect — are common in the sports world.
Cuban didn’t find the tweet amusing. Being a calm, rational owner of a million dollar sports franchise, he did what he deemed to be an appropriate response — bully the owner of the website to take down the post.
In an email sent to David Levy, president of Turner, which owns Bleacher Report, Cuban eloquently titled the message “Are you fucking kidding me?” He said he “expected an apology” before criticizing the website’s social media team.
Levy responded, saying his team does what it can to reach a millennial audience. Bloopers like Nowitzki’s and other quick content are perfect for that.
Cuban disagreed, saying he could communicate with the millennials and would do so if the tweet wasn’t taken down immediately. All of these messages were CC’d by Cuban to Adam Silver, the current NBA commissioner, and were later tweeted out to the public by the owner himself.
The offending tweet was removed not long after, and the website released a follow up tweet saying how much of a legend Nowinski is.
To use the owner’s exact words, I’d like to ask, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Cuban doesn’t get to decide what is news nor does he decide who is capable of creating content for a website. While it’s a stretch to say he’s acting like Joseph Stalin or Kim Jong-Un — as some have been doing over the past few days — the fact is telling journalists what to say and do is exactly how news stops being news.
It becomes what those in power want you to hear and not the truth. It becomes advertizing and not storytelling.
Why can Cuban throw his weight around and get away with this? The incident proved he can act like a thin-skinned crybaby, whining until he gets what he wants. If he doesn’t, he threatens the company by turning their own audience against them. I can’t say if this would have worked or not, but threatening people’s jobs over an air ball is stupid.
Maybe I’m overreacting, right? What does a guy who tweets GIFs for Bleacher Report have to do with quality journalism? This isn’t the type of content that garners Pulitzer Prizes. It’s not like a president is telling a newspaper to not release files they deem too important. But then again most news isn’t.
“The strategy is simple. Fans tell us what they want and we create, curate and deliver the content they are seeking,” a part of Bleacher Report’s mission statement reads. “Regardless of market size, our robust staff of featured columnists and breaking-news writers across the country work around the clock delivering only the sports news and topics that fans care about — all in real-time.”
Fans decide what is newsworthy and what isn’t, not Cuban. Fans decide what they want to see and how they want to respond to it. If the people who had the most money got to determine who was criticized in the sports world, I don’t think readers would see as much hate for the New York Yankees or New England Patriots.
Cuban tried to clear the air by reaching out to Dallas SportsDay a few days later.
“I (couldn’t) care less about the video,” Cuban told Dallas SportsDay. “It was the caption that made it disrespectful. When it was up, there wasn’t a single reply saying it was funny. Just the opposite. Did you laugh? Find anyone who did? Aren’t blooper reels supposed to be funny?
“No one is saying I missed the humor,” he added. “They are just commenting about my being adamant about it coming down. Sometimes humor attempts go wrong. This was an example of an attempt gone wrong.”
No, it wasn’t. Sometimes people don’t like a joke. The only difference here is that I can’t swing my college tuition bill around and see whatever was bothering me disappear. I need to get over it and so should Cuban. With everything going on in the world today, especially with Cuban’s own disdain for President Donald Trump, it shocks me that he’d pull a move out of Trump’s playbook.
The only playbook he should be using is the one for his team, which, in any case, needs reworking as the Dallas offense is currently sitting at the bottom of the league in both points-per game and total points, according to ESPN.