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- Mark Cuban suggests the OKC Thunder tank their season.
- The Thunder are without Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
- Oklahoma City has stumbled to a 2-5 start.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN Dallas on Nov. 9 that the injury-riddled Oklahoma City Thunder should tank their 2014-15 NBA season.
Cuban dropped the hint to ESPN Dallas’ Tim McMahon on Sunday:
“Mavericks owner Mark Cuban openly wondered Sunday whether it would be in the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s long-term interest if superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook sat out the rest of the season.
“Cuban said he would not consider it a breach of NBA integrity if the Thunder essentially bagged this season to improve their odds of winning a title in the near future.
“‘The question I don’t think anybody has asked is, why don’t they pull a David Robinson and try to get Tim Duncan?’ Cuban said, speaking before the Mavericks hosted the Miami Heat.
“Cuban was referring to the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs, a 20-win team that played a critical role in laying the foundation for the franchise’s five NBA championships.
“Robinson played only six games that season, missing the start of the season with a back injury and sitting out the remainder after breaking his foot in late December.
“As a result, the Spurs’ seven-year playoff streak was snapped, giving them a lottery ticket that turned into the No. 1 overall pick in Duncan. The Spurs won their first title two seasons later.
“‘We already specialize in a race to the bottom,’ Cuban said. ‘More participants won’t change anything. They’re all high-profile participants.’
“Thunder coach Scott Brooks laughed off the thought of sitting his stars when asked about it after Sunday’s 101-93 win over the Sacramento Kings.
“‘I didn’t see those comments, but no,’ he said. ‘That’s funny, though. But no, we’ve got a good group of guys in here. It’s fun going into games knowing we’re going to play with great effort, that we’re going to be throwing our bodies all over the floor, that we’ll be diving on the floor for loose balls, and that’s what our fans want to see. They understand we’ve had a lot of injuries…They know it, but they like what the guys are doing. They like that the guys are competing, and that’s what makes fans proud of our group.’
“Asked if maybe Cuban had an ulterior motive in wondering out loud about the Thunder tanking the season, Brooks said, ‘Ya think? There’s a pretty good team north of him.’
“The Thunder, who have advanced to at least the Western Conference Finals in three of the past four seasons, have stumbled to a 2-5 start after Durant underwent preseason foot surgery and Westbrook suffered a broken bone in his right hand during the second game that also required surgery.
“Durant and Westbrook are both expected to be sidelined at least another month. As competitive as the West is, the Thunder might not be able to overcome a poor start to make the playoffs.”
In a Nov. 6 interview with Rollling Stone Magazine’s Kenneth Arthur, Cuban spoke about domestic violence:
“No question it’s because because there are more of them, and I think there are two more important factors: I think it’s difficult to be a warrior on the field and a pussycat off of it, but more importantly, I think that all pro sports turn a blind eye to minor leaguers and collegiate athletes with checkered backgrounds.
“You don’t go from the minors or college to the pros and all of (a) sudden become a spousal abuser, or any of a number of other serious personal issues. Those traits don’t suddenly appear when you make a pro roster. They were there in college. They were probably there prior to college. Yet we as leagues ignore those issues when we sign and draft players. That has to change. 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.”