Mark Cuban Says “This Isn’t About Basketball”

Mark Cuban was shocked when he was told by Dallas Mavericks communications officials that the NBA was suspending the rest of the season.

“This is crazy. This can’t be true,” the Mavs owner told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi during an in-game interview, summing up his initial reaction. “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”

The unprecedented action was spurred by a Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, testing positive for COVID-19.

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was informed at the same time as Cuban, and the game played on with the Mavericks winning in front of a sell-out crowd. Neither Carlisle nor Cuban expressed concerns about playing out the game, as their trust was in higher-ups in the NBA, who in tandem with the government, were equipped with the expertise to make those calls.

Cuban says the team has been instructed to stay in Dallas for now, as their “team activities” have not been suspended, allowing practices, treatment for injuries, and other non-game activities.

“I was very specific as was [Carlisle] to say who you talk to is very important,” Cuban said. “If bringing people in because you have downtime, no. That’s not going to work. You have to be accountable to the people you are dealing with and who you know. For your own personal safety and for everybody else’s. This is not a vacation. This is effectively self-quarantining because it’s our responsibility to be vigilant.”

Cuban reached out to arena officials on Tuesday in light of the possibility of playing games without fans would affect employees’ financial stability. He says he is in the process of developing a plan for them to replace lost income, perhaps for hourly employees to do some charity work. He said details have not been worked out, but that it was important to him.

Cuban says the NBA could be flexible with a restarting date, as arenas are typically quiet in the summer.

“It’s stunning, but we are where we are,” Cuban said. “We have to be smart in how we respond. This is people’s lives at stakes. This isn’t about basketball, this isn’t about the Mavericks. This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake. I’m a lot more worried about my kids and my mom who is 82 years old — in talking to her and telling her to stay in the house — than when we play in our next game.”