The NBA fined Dallas owner Mark Cuban $500,000 on Friday for “public criticism and detrimental conduct” regarding officiating. Separately, the league sent a memo to teams reminding them of rules that govern conduct of owners, coaches and other team personnel during games.
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, laid out parameters for proper conduct by team personnel toward game officials, how team personnel other than coaches are not allowed on the court during games and how they cannot use “profane or objectionable language that might be heard by spectators” during the game.
Further, it said the league’s “enforcement of these rules with enhanced penalties will be a point of emphasis for the league office" during the rest of the season and beyond.
The memo about the rules of conduct for team personnel does not mention Cuban specifically, though he typically sits near the Mavericks’ bench during games.
The first order of business Friday was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denying the Mavericks’ protest of the outcome of a Feb. 22 game against Atlanta. Dallas contended that goaltending rules were misapplied when a late basket by Atlanta’s John Collins was counted. Collins scored as a whistle was blown and goaltending of a layup attempt by the Hawks’ Trae Young was called on Dallas’ Dorian Finney-Smith. Collins grabbed Young’s miss and scored, as confusion reigned.
“What I’ll say on the record is hopefully they’ll let us release our actual filing of the protest,” Cuban said Friday before the Mavericks' home game against Memphis. “I’m waiting to hear back from them. Then everybody gets to see why we thought it needed to be protested.”
Cuban also said he would match the fine with a donation that would include funding the heart transplant of a local man.
Officiating crew chief Rodney Mott told a pool reporter that night after Atlanta's 111-107 win that “the original call on the floor was a goaltend” and that Collins’ basket was allowed because “the ball was blocked and reviewed. The ball hit the rim, so it was deemed an inadvertent whistle. ... Because (Collins) was in his shooting motion when my whistle blew, it’s deemed continuation, so therefore the basket counts.”
The NBA said that after the game, Cuban "walked onto the court and approached game officials shaking his head and directing comments toward them” and noted that was the second time he was on the court to challenge a call that night.
“Following the game, Mr. Cuban spoke to reporters in the arena and tweeted several times that night and into the next day with comments that were highly critical, personal and demeaning to the league and its officiating staff,” the league said.
Cuban’s $500,000 fine raised the total that NBA has fined him over the years to at least $3.1 million, and the Mavericks’ owner has said in the past that he always donates the equivalent of the fine amount to charity simultaneously. This was the third time a fine of at least $500,000 against Cuban was announced by the league; he was fined $500,000 for comments about officiating in 2002 and $600,000 in 2018 for public comments on tanking.
“Team personnel who watch games from seats, especially seats near the court, should set a positive example for fans by ensuring that any isolated comments directed at the game officials or the officiating are respectful and appropriate,” the league said in its memo. “Of course, brief social interactions resulting from courtesy between team personnel and game officials are always permitted.”