Mark Cuban is the one NBA owner who can be counted on to says things, from vocally expressing his extreme displeasure with the current state of the league’s refereeing from the sidelines to talking about how he celebrated breaking a billion dollars in personal net worth (by sitting at his computer, naked, refreshing a stock ticker, per Yahoo Finance’s James Altucher). Cubes is up to talk about pretty much anything, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that — in the wake of the Paul George injury (if you haven’t seen it already, it’s awful; don’t Google it) — he rapped on why he thinks FIBA and the IOC are unfairly holding the NBA hostage in regard to regulations around player participation.
“”The [International Olympic Committee] is playing the NBA,” Cuban told ESPN.com “The IOC is an organization that has been rife with corruption, to the point where a member was accused of trying to fix an Olympic event in Salt Lake. The IOC [pulls in] billions of dollars. They make a killing and make Tony Soprano look like a saint. The pros in multiple sports are smart enough to not play when they are eligible free agents. But teams take on huge financial risk so that the IOC committee members can line their pockets.”
That last part probably needs a bit of explanation. After Paul George’s accident, questions about whether or not players should be able to be withheld from international competition came back to the forefront — under the current rules, the NBA can only pull players from FIBA games if the team has a medical concern about a player. Otherwise, it is up to the player himself to opt out of the competition. That compromises NBA franchises, according to Cuban, since teams are on the hook if a player gets hurt, like George did. Shortly after the injury, Darren Rovell Tweeted that the Pacers insurance would reimburse the team “$6.3M of the 15.8M they pay him” next season, but only if he misses the entire season.
Not only is Indiana on the hook for the majority of George’s salary, they’re also losing out on the revenue that would come from his presence on the basketball court, as well as jersey and other merchandise sales. For a franchise that was already reeling from the loss of Lance Stephenson, George’s yearlong absence is going to hurt the Pacers in the games, which is going to double down on the dent to their checkbook. That’s when everyone would do well to remember that small market teams like the Pacers already fight battles with fan apathy, and that’s to say nothing about how awful it is that NBA fans are going to be missing a season of Paul George’s prime. Injuries are always awful.
For an owner such as Cuban, who has been on the record saying that international competition is meaningless for over two years, this is just more reason to stick to his guns.
“The greatest trick ever played was the IOC convincing the world that the Olympics were about patriotism and national pride instead of money,” the Mavericks owner told ESPN. “The players and owners should get together and create our own World Cup of Basketball.” One that, we assume, would have stanchions an NBA-approved distance from the basket.