Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks Need to Start Talking and Mark Cuban Wants the Media to Stop Writing

Whether his angle is salient or not, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn't afraid to talk. And it seems veteran guard Jason Terry is popping off every other week about the Mavs catching the Spurs or having the best bench in the NBA or something else equally daft.

But, as has been the case during their entire decade of regular-season dominance, the Mavs aren't particularly chatty on the court. Especially at the defensive end. Their Charlie Chaplin act confused and frustrated boisterous and loquacious coach Avery Johnson for years.

Now -- in the midst of a three-game losing streak -- the characteristic is causing quiet ripples again.

"We got a lot of talkers off the court," center Tyson Chandler said after Tuesday's practice at American Airlines Center. "We just need them to open their mouths on the court."

Added coach Rick Carlisle, "We're a team of guys that have very high basketball IQs, but our personality isn't to be outgoing and talkative all the time."

Cue the critics: The Mavs are soft. And quiet.

Of course, asking a veteran team to suddenly alter its character and jolt its personality 77 games into the season is like expecting Cuban to get along swimmingly with the media.

Love me some Cuban. He pours his heart, soul and money into making the Mavericks a winner, and we're lucky to have him. But his latest blog post is just nonsensical.

In it, he argues that he no longer needs online scribes -- from lowly bloggers to full-blown ESPN.com reporters -- because what they produce isn't aligned with his team's interests, and he doesn't need the press online -- so why let them in the building?

What the what?! The sports media's goal has never been aligned with the teams it covers. It's not a partnership, unless I've been missing something for the last 25 years. The goal of the media is to report, not promote. We're paid to use pens and laptops, not pom poms.

Cuban says newspapers and TV have a place in his locker room -- because they reach a segment of customers he can't reach himself. But, he says, his team's official site, with help from Twitter and Facebook, can now distribute info to the online masses just as effectively, and factually, as virtual joints like ESPN Dallas. If it feels like we've been down this road before with Cuban v. Tim McMahon, that's because we have.

Cuban's wrong here. Nobody trusts state-run TV. (Then again, lots of folks watch Fox News, so maybe he's on to something.) I hope I'm right in saying fans of teams still want the truth about their franchises -- good or bad -- and that they would be less inclined to drop paychecks on tickets and domestic drafts if they weren't getting it.

If Cuban gets his way, Mavs fans would be happy that Dallas somehow won three gutsy games on its last road trip and would be celebrating another playoff appearance. (And not the current losing streak.)

In Cowboys terms, fans would be told nothing of Dez Bryant's outstanding debts and just be agog with all his sparkling jewelry. We're better than that, right?

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe you guys do want Pravda online?

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt