- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS -- Owner Mark Cuban disagrees with coach Rick Carlisle, saying there is nothing soft about the Dallas Mavericks.
However, Carlisle had no regrets about using perhaps the most offensive four-letter word in the NBA to evaluate the Mavericks after they blew a seven-point lead in the final 1:13 of Wednesday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets.
"I just see more and more teams that are taking physical liberties on our guys, and so much of this game to me is about disposition, both physically and mentally," Carlisle said before Thursday's game against the New York Knicks. "We've been very good this year, but I always feel like we can be better and more consistent. That's really where it's at."
Cuban said he had no problem with Carlisle's blunt opinion, but he did not agree with it. Players, particularly guard Jason Terry, were perturbed when informed that Carlisle used the word "soft" to describe the Mavericks.
It's an especially offensive word in Dallas, considering the Mavericks have been accused of being soft repeatedly over the last decade, when they've won at least 50 games each season but have no championship to show for it.
"I don't think we're soft at all," Cuban said. "But [Carlisle] wanted to send a message and the message got through. You can't worry about how the media is going to treat it. You've got to worry about the message that gets through, so we'll see what the guys do."
Carlisle was especially concerned with the way the Mavs responded to Hornets guard Marco Belinelli's flagrant foul that knocked Shawn Marion out of the game and to Hornets forward David West's "cheap shot" that sent Dirk Nowitzki flying onto the Dallas bench late in the game.
Cuban scoffed when those plays were mentioned, cutting off a reporter's question.
"If you guys think throwing a punch is not being soft, you guys are morons," Cuban said. "Throwing a punch is what a [expletive] does. That's what [expletives] do. Right? There's 1,001 ways to respond to things. Particularly basketball players. That's what a [expletive] does, is throw a punch when you know 50 people are going to be there to break it up."
That, however, isn't what Carlisle wants from the Mavericks in those types of situations.
"I'm not talking about getting in fights or swinging at people or anything like that," Carlisle said. "I'm talking about getting together and making a stand on the court and manifesting those types of thing to consistent aggressive play. Those are things that we generally do, but I'm going to keep pushing guys to do it better. With what we're trying to do, you can't be mediocre at anything. That's a fact."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann