North, citing the News' shut-up-or-get-fired edict from publisher Burl Osborne (that's BeloWatch's characterization, not hers), declined to offer any comment. Martinez could not be reached. News managing editor Bob Mong did not return a BeloWatch phone call. And the Mavs' Sonju could not be reached for comment.

So who's responsible for the episode--the News or Sonju?
As best BeloWatch can determine, both--though the reporters appear to have been unfairly maligned.

Mavericks spokesman Kevin Sullivan says News staffers who spoke to the team after Sonju complained said the misunderstood "defied logic" quote--the only point on which the News flat-out acknowledged a screwup--resulted from an editing error.

"As far as I understand, it was an editor," he said. "She [North] had a quote from him, and it got put someplace else. Norm called Kim, and she explained what had happened, and it went from there. My understanding of it was it was an editor's mistake. The editor did call Norm."

The other clarifications were all attributed to Sonju, leaving open the possibility that he had changed his tune after being advised that he had spoken out of turn.

Sullivan rejected that theory. Sonju "obviously can speak for the club. I don't think he was backtracking."

But "at that point, we still hadn't even gotten the [formal] offer," Sullivan noted. And "the official position would come from Mr.

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