Mark Cuban fined $500K by NBA for criticizing referees, Mavericks’ protest denied by league office

Just last week, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban went on SiriusXM NBA radio and said that he felt his team had a “really good chance” of winning the petition they were sending to the league office. He spoke with confidence over the fact that there was clear evidence that an inadvertent whistle allowed Hawks center John Collins to get an easy bucket at the rim to increase Atlanta’s lead to 111-107, which eventually won the game. After that game, Cuban took to Twitter to criticize the officiating in a series of tweets, taking aim at that specific play that essentially gave the win to the Hawks. Shortly after, it was reported that the team would file a petition to get the final 9.7 seconds to be replayed with Atlanta leading 109-107.

The petition was filed before the deadline on Monday, but the league announced Friday morning that commissioner Adam Silver has denied Dallas’ protest of that Feb. 22 game. The statement also says that Cuban is being assessed a $500,000 fine for his criticism of the referees after the game, as well as “detrimental conduct regarding NBA officiating.”

In the three-page statement issued by the league, it points out that Cuban stepped on the court to confront the officials during a timeout and after the game, and took his grievances to reporters and to Twitter. Cuban has always been vocal in his criticism of referees over the years, but he had toned it down over the past three years. However, in a series of tweets, Cuban took aim at the way referees are managed by the league, to which the NBA took issue with in its statement.

“It is a recognized part of sports for fans and the media at time to criticize officiating, but team executives must be held to a higher standard. A team owner’s effort to influence refereeing decisions during and after a game creates the perception of an unfair competitive advantage and thereby undermines the integrity of the game. Demeaning league employees also creates an intimidating workplace environment.”

“Unlike fans or the media, team executives are provided with several formal channels to voice their concerns with the league office about officiating. In fact, their input — including Mr. Cuban’s — has helped the NBA enhance its officiating program through improved management, training, transparency and technology.”

“Officiating is one of the toughest jobs in sports. While officials remain accountable for their on-court performance, maintaining competitive fairness and the integrity of the game is a fundamental obligation of the league office, team owners and personnel, and players.”

In regards to the play that the Mavericks were petitioning against, the NBA’s statement said this:

“After a comprehensive investigation, Commissioner Silver determined there was no misapplication of the playing rules. The Replay Center Official correctly understood the rules to require that Collins’ basket count if he was in the act of shooting when the goaltending call was made. The Replay Center Official also correctly followed the established process of replay review.”

“The league’s investigation included an analysis of the game footage showing that the whistle began to sound one-fifteenth of a second before Collins gained possession of the ball. However, it is well-established by prior NBA protest decisions that a factual determination by game officials — including replay officials — that is shown in post-game review to be incorrect is not a misapplication of the playing rules. While officials strive to get every call right, games cannot be replayed when, after the fact and free from the need to make rulings in real time, a different judgment about events on the playing floor can be made. For these reasons, Commissioner Silver found that the extraordinary remedy of granting a game protest and replaying the last portion of a completed game was not warranted.”

During the game, the referees originally called goaltending on Trae Young’s layup, but after the whistle was blown Collins laid the ball in. When the officials went to review the play they overturned the call, saying it was not a goaltend, but that Collins basket still stood because of continuation rules. The league ultimately determined that was the correct call.

When Cuban made his appearance on SiriusXM NBA radio, he said that even if the Mavericks won the petition, they would weigh their options on if they wanted to replay the final nine seconds. 

“I think we tell them that if it didn’t impact the playoff standings, we don’t care if we replay it or not, because there’d be no point to it,” Cuban said. “But if it comes out the way we hope it will, they’ll start the game from the 9.5 seconds left to go with a center-court jump ball and Mavs down by two.”

Whether this loss does impact the playoff standings remains to be seen, but if it does Cuban will certainly take to Twitter to remind everyone that the Mavs were robbed because of the final nine seconds of this game in February. For now, though, the Mavericks sit comfortably in the No. 7 spot in the West standings with only half a game separating them and the Thunder.

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