NBA Referees Claim Mark Cuban’s Behavior Threatens Integrity of Basketball

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The NBA referees’ union is considerably concerned about Mark Cuban’s constant criticisms.

The Dallas Mavericks owner has been fined over $1,000,000 for criticizing NBA refs since he bought the team in 2000. Those fines apparently aren’t enough to satisfy the refs, who have contacted the NBA to express their concerns. In a series of letters between the National Basketball Referees Association and the NBA front office, as reported on by The Vertical, the complaints are laid out.

In a recent letter to Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, NBRA general counsel Lee Seham outlined what the union considers to be a lengthy pattern of documented violations by Cuban of the NBA constitution and “undue influence of the league’s management of its officials.”

“We consider the threat to the integrity of NBA basketball presented by Mr. Cuban’s misconduct to be real and growing,” Seham wrote on Dec. 9.

The league responded by saying that they don’t believe Cuban carries an “inappropriate influence” over referee employment decisions. In turn, Seham and the Union wrote back:

“No other owner has communicated to our members with such force that he exercises control over their careers. He has communicated that he played a pivotal role in the termination of Kevin Fehr, a referee who met league performance standards. He has communicated to an NBRA board member, during contract negotiations, that the referees would continue to be at-will employees. He has told a referee, during a game, that he follows that referee’s game reports.”

The Vertical reached out to Cuban for comment. As usual, the passionate Mavs owner was happy to talk, and defended his actions, saying that NBA officials shouldn’t have job security if they consistently under perform.

“To suggest I have influence is to suggest that the NBA officials can be influenced,” Cuban responded via email. “If an official can be influenced by pressure from anyone, they should not be in the NBA. I don’t believe they can be influenced. As far as my influence on employment, several years ago I sent a list to the NBA of officials who had been NBA officials for more than a decade and never made the playoffs.

“At what point do we recognize that there is someone else out there who can do a better job?” Cuban asked. “I did this knowing that any terminated refs could receive substantial pensions. As far as anything else, I’ve been the same way since I bought the team and have no reason to change.”

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