Social media in sports is largely fun and games. That is, until someone takes things a bit too seriously. On Saturday, that person was Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Cuban directed his anger at Bleacher Report for posting a tweet which included video of Dirk Nowitzki shooting an airball with the words “DIRK FOREVER.”
B/R deleted the tweet, but it was screen capped by Deadspin.
It was a joke, right? Nowitzki has played 19 seasons for the Mavs, and for 10 to 12 of those seasons was one of the best players in the NBA. Even at 39 years old, he’s still a productive starting power forward in the league and arguably revolutionized that position as a frontcourt player who could shoot from the outside and stretch the floor. Great NBA players shoot airballs occasionally, but it’s actually kind of a surprise to see someone known for his shooting touch miss the basket completely. So B/R made a crack about it.
You could also make the argument that “DIRK FOREVER” was a celebration of a great player, who deserves recognition and love even after a bad shot. We love you no matter what, Dirk! (OK, it was probably sarcastic. But still open to interpretation.)
However, having one of his players — arguably his all-time greatest player, to boot — incensed Cuban. First, he went after Bleacher Report on Twitter. This tweet was also eventually deleted, but For The Win screen-capped it.
OK, so we have a mild disagreement between someone from a professional sports team and an media outlet providing coverage. That happens all the time. Cuban has butted heads with the media in regards to coverage of the Mavericks frequently over the years.
But the Mavs owner followed up the tweet at Bleacher Report by taking his outrage even further, emailing Turner president David Levy to complain. Not Turner Sports president Lenny Daniels. No, Cuban went straight to the top to complain about the outlet Turner owns. He posted the emails on Twitter, but they were eventually taken down. Fortunately, For The Win again screen-capped the messages.
By the way, the “adam” in those emails is NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Cuban confirmed that to Deadspin.
As you can see, Levy attempted to defuse the situation with a pleasantry and complimenting Cuban on the 20/20 special commemorating Shark Tank reaching $100 million in investments, which aired Friday on ABC. It was a nice victory lap for the show. But if that put Cuban in a good mood, it apparently didn’t last very long. Either that, or the B/R tweet really killed his buzz.
Cuban threatening to “communicate with the millenials” that Bleacher Report wants to appeal to is a rather troubling threat. What would he have done? Bad-mouth and try to embarrass a media outlet whose company has a partnership with the NBA? Would there have been a segment on Shark Tank in which Cuban feeds B/R logos to actual sharks? Maybe he would have heckled Coy Wire when he appeared on CNN?
Regardless of what would have happened, Cuban won. His emails and tweets accomplished their objective. Bleacher Report deleted the “DIRK FOREVER” tweet and while he may not have received the apology he demanded, the tweet explaining the deletion was contrite. And with that, Cuban deleted his tweets going after B/R.
Earlier today we deleted a tweet about Dirk Nowitzki. Dirk is an NBA legend in our eyes and will be forever.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 25, 2017
So what happens the next time B/R makes a joke about a NBA player on Twitter? Will other owners follow Cuban’s example? Or will that no longer be happening if Levy did more than “discuss with his team”? Cuban trying to control the media like this would truly be something over which to get outraged. Do Mavericks players now get a free pass from B/R — at least on social media — rather than risk triggering Cuban’s anger and emails to the very top of Turner and the NBA once again? Oh, and should the Mavericks’ social media team now watch out for mocking opposing players or teams on Twitter?
By the way, here was the original play that ignited this whole uproar. Even the announcers broadcasting the game were surprised by Nowitzki’s airball. Did Cuban go their corporate bosses as well? Wait — were those the Mavericks’ announcers? If so, uh-oh. Mark Followill, emails and voicemails from Mr. Cuban could be on the way. FSN Southwest executives should also probably expect similar messages.