Cuban says he didn't yell at Stern after Game 5

Updated: June 20, 2006, 3:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $250,000 for several acts of misconduct following Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the league said Tuesday.

Reported fines levied by NBA against Mark Cuban
Total Fines 13
Fines of $200,000+ 4
Fines of $100,000+ 8
Total fine amount $1,665,000*
* -- Through June '06
Source: ESPN Research

When time ran out in Game 5, Cuban ran onto the court to vent at official Joe DeRosa, then stared down and screamed toward Stern and a group of league officials, from the court, then the stands.

In his blog on Tuesday, the Dallas Mavericks owner responded to a column in the Miami Herald that described this post-Game 5 scene: "Cuban then turned to Stern and other NBA officials who were seated at the scorer's table and was overheard to shout venomously in the jubilant din, '[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!' "

Cuban wrote that instead of yelling at Stern, he didn't say a word to the commissioner. Cuban also adamantly affirmed that he believes game outcomes are determined on the court, not in the league office.

"The games are not rigged," Cuban wrote. "That's a complete insult to the players on the court and the incredible amount of effort they put into preparing for and playing the games. All 82 regular-season and postseason games.

"The NBA couldn't rig the games if it wanted to. And it doesn't want to. It's that simple."

That sounds more like the owner Stern would like to hear. He said Tuesday that he believes Cuban's more vitriolic outbursts are "not healthy for either him or the game."

"I don't think he is crazy. I think he is smart. I think his recent loss of self control is not planned and not calculated, and I think if he could, he would like to have some of it back," Stern said in an interview on San Francisco radio station KNBR. "Because at bottom, I really do believe it distracts the players and that can't be good. It sets a bad tone.

"He is very smart, he has to take credit and should be given credit for putting together a great team and giving his fans the entertainment experience in that building which is terrific. But at times I think he loses control and that is not healthy for either him or the game."

Cuban was irate over what he considered a series of officiating breakdowns at the end of Dallas' 101-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night. The loss left the Mavericks trailing the series 3-2 and facing elimination going into Game 6 in Dallas on Tuesday night.

Cuban, for his part, disputed that any of his postgame verbiage was directed at Stern.

Mark Cuban
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyMark Cuban ranted in Miami on Sunday and in his blog the past two days.

"Apparently The Miami Herald is reporting I screamed at the NBA commissioner after the game the other night," Cuban wrote Tuesday. "Didn't happen. Didn't say a word to the man. Not a single word. And that was absolutely by intention."

"Apparently this 'reporter' [writer Greg Cote] has written he has several 'sources.' Well they must be the same sources the tabloids use to find two-headed babys and aliens, because it didn't happen."

Stern told ESPN Radio 760 in West Palm Beach, Fla., that he and Cuban did not talk after the game.

"Mark has a way of looking over in the direction of wherever I happen to be sitting if the occasion of calls or game action he doesn't particularly like," Stern said. "But that would not make him the first owner to do that. I did not speak to him at the end of the game."

Cuban wore a Jerry Stackhouse jersey Sunday in Miami in support of the forward, suspended for a hard foul in Game 4.

A half-hour after Game 5, Cuban was still boiling during a testy interview with reporters.

He wrote a blog entry Monday explaining why he used profanity during a response to a question about whether this was the worst loss he'd endured.

"The reality is that it would be a waste of both of our time if I gave him the 'This was a tough one' answer, and a waste of my time to really think about it, particularly given there were 10 other reporters wanting to ask questions and we had a bus to catch," Cuban wrote.

His mind-set is perhaps better explained in a posting left a few minutes before titled, "Right is its own defense."

Cuban wrote about applying that catchphrase -- which he picked up from an old T-shirt -- to a business venture he's pursuing. He added that the slogan applies to the way he runs the Mavericks.

"I'm going to do what I think is right. Period end of story," he wrote. "You may not like that I want the officiating in the NBA to get better. I think it's the right thing to do."

NBA executives often praise Cuban for his passion, work ethic and high standards, even toward officiating.

It's his approach they're not always fond of, which is why he's been fined more than $1.45 million since buying the team in January 2000. That includes a $450,000 tab this postseason.

Still, Stern told ESPN Radio 760 that he wouldn't have a problem handing the championship trophy to Cuban if the Mavericks win the title.

"I've been doing this for a long time and I have a very good relationship with the Dallas franchise," Stern said. "I was there when it was formed. I was just visiting with Donald Carter who is a shareholder and the initial owner and is still an owner. I visited with Ross Perot Jr. who is still an investor and sold the majority to Mark [Cuban] and I spend time with Mark as well. Franchises in their own way belong to cities, in any event, and I would be very happy to award a trophy to either the good city of Miami, or the good city of Dallas."

Asked Monday night in an interview on Dallas television station WFAA if he would consider selling the team if he didn't see some of the league changes he wants, Cuban snapped his fingers and said "In a heartbeat. Yeah, if they drive me that crazy, in a heartbeat."

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing any different results. If they don't want to make things better, then what am I here for?"

Cuban practically turned getting fined into an art form after going from an owner of season tickets to owning the Mavericks.

One comment about him not hiring the league's head of officiating to manage a Dairy Queen landed Cuban as a manager for a day; he also donned pinstripes and officiated a Harlem Globetrotters game.

As his team improved, there were fewer stunts. He remained a visible, vocal critic, though, enough for some to suggest that his team ends up not getting the benefit of the doubt from officials.

Mavs supporters have brought that up again in the wake of three players getting suspended this postseason, with Stackhouse the most recent.

Dallas had a chance to win without its top reserve, leading by 11 points early and by four late in the fourth quarter. Miami ended up winning on a pair of free throws by Dwyane Wade with 1.9 seconds left in overtime.

Cuban had several gripes about the play that sent Wade to the line, starting with Wade not being whistled for a collision that left Dallas' Jason Terry on the floor.

"I guess that's not a call," Cuban said. "I guess that's not a foul."

An assistant coach later showed Cuban that Wade appeared to commit a backcourt violation before the contact with Terry. It's hard to tell on replays because of the giant championship trophy logo at midcourt.

"My understanding from the rule book is, if you are going to catch the ball in the backcourt, you have to be in the backcourt to catch it," Cuban said.

But the NBA pointed out Monday that there was no violation on the play, citing a rule that allows a player to go into the backcourt to receive an inbound pass during the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or any overtime period.

Between Wade's free throws, Dallas was charged its final timeout. The Mavs insist they were only talking about calling it after Wade's second foul shot so they could set up a final play and move the ball to the frontcourt.

"Josh Howard goes to Joe DeRosa and not only once, but twice asks for a timeout," crew chief Joey Crawford told a pool reporter. "Forced to call it, simple as that."

Something else Mavericks followers are quick to note: Wade alone took 25 free throws, the same number as the entire Dallas team. The Heat took a total of 49 free throws.

"I don't know," Cuban said of the discrepancy. "I guess they got fouled more."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.