Mark Cuban: Pro sports turn 'blind eye' to players' personal issues
In an interview with Rolling Stone that touched on multiple topics, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said pro sports teams and leagues need to do a better job identifying personal issues among players before they begin to play professionally.
Asked why the NFL seems to have more discipline problems than the NBA, Cuban pointed to the greater number of players and the difficulty in transitioning from a violent on-field culture to an off-field culture that looks down on violence.
But Cuban also criticized pro sports in general for not doing enough to identify issues in players before they become pros, saying players almost certainly had those problems previously and that such players shouldn't be allowed to play in pro leagues unless they undergo "rigorous counseling."
"We need to participate in programs that publicly identify those athletes that have issues, and not allow them to play unless they go through rigorous counseling.
"We need to demand that colleges and minor leagues and high schools and summer-travel programs identify and report issues. By not reporting abuse or other issues with their players, they could be costing them a shot at the pros. It's our fault for not being more proactive. It's college's fault for not red-flagging these kids and getting them help."
Cuban said the Mavericks employ a team psychologist to help identify "red flags" in players' lives and that the team's rule is to not have more than one "knucklehead" on the roster at a time. Cuban also revealed that Dallas had a functioning alcoholic at one point and that the team provided him professional help for his problem.
In response to a question about former Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson, who was arrested for public intoxication in the days after the Mavericks won the NBA championship in 2011, Cuban noted that Stevenson wasn't driving and said that, "As long as you aren't driving or in a position to inflict harm on someone, and over the age of 21, feel free to get as f----d-up as you please after you win a championship."
In other topics, Cuban said that letting point guard Steve Nash leave as a free agent in 2004 was the worst mistake he's made as Mavericks owner and that he "empathized" with former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling during his scandal, while also saying he didn't excuse Sterling for breaking the rules of the NBA.
Cuban, a businessman and investor, has owned the Mavericks since 2000. Dallas is 3-2 this season and plays the Utah Jazz on Friday.
- Ben Estes