By Ben Golliver
A frustrated Mark Cuban has thrown up his hands at the NBA's officials and is crowd-sourcing suggestions for their improvement. The Mavericks owner wrote on his Twitter account Saturday that his efforts to improve the league's officiating have "failed miserably."
"I'm sorry NBA fans," Cuban wrote. "I've tried for 13 years to fix the officiating in this league and I have failed miserably. Any suggestions? I need help."
Prior to Dallas' 99-96 loss to the Hornets in overtime on Saturday night, Cuban told reporters that he believed the referees had incorrectly officiated a key late play in a Wednesday night overtime loss to the Heat.
ESPNDallas.com reports that Cuban said the referees were "lucky I wasn't there" and that there was a "misapplication of the rules" on an out-of-bounds call that went Miami's way. Cuban also reportedly said that the league's review system, which allows teams to dispute calls after the fact, is a waste of time.
“I will tell you this: We used to turn plays in all the time,” said Cuban, who did complain to the NBA office about the out-of-bounds play. “We don’t do it anymore. I just turned it in because I was mad, but it’s just not worth the time. You know the definition of insanity.”
Cuban's comments run the risk of yet another fine from the NBA league office, which forbids public criticism of its officiating by owners, front office executives, coaches and players.
Cuban's battles with the league office over the quality of its officials dates back to early in his tenure as Mavericks owner and has proved to be costly. He was most recently fined $75,000 for comments made about the officials following a Feb. 1, 2012 loss to the Thunder. The comments that drew that fine were reported by ESPN.com.
“I haven’t said a whole lot about the officiating in a long, long time, but I haven’t seen it this bad in a long, long time. Guys miss calls; that’s part of the game. You’re not always going to have a great crew. Officials have got to learn that’s part of the game. But these were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad. And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens.”
Of course, Cuban was fined $250,000 after he went on to the court to protest the officials during a Game 5 loss to the Heat in the 2006 NBA Finals. Reports indicate that Cuban has been fined well over $1 million by the NBA during his time as owner of the Mavericks, which dates back to 2000.
Perhaps Cuban's frustration here shouldn't be surprising. His Mavericks are 13-21, good for the 12th best record in the Western Conference, and they've lost eight of their last nine games. If the season ended today, Dallas, which has played most of the season without franchise forward Dirk Nowitzki, would miss the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. The Point Forward's Rob Mahoney wrote recently that Nowitzki's recent return from an injury does offer some hope for the Mavericks' postseason chances and the All-Star made his first start of the season on Saturday night. All things considered, Cuban has been fairly mellow in recent years. His fine in February 2012 was the first he received since 2010, when he violated the league's tampering policy in comments about LeBron James, and it was his first for criticizing the officials since March 2009. Back in December, Cuban even said that he understood why NBA commissioner David Stern fined the Spurs $250,000 for resting key players during a nationally-televised game against the Heat.