The NBA has to hold the Dallas Mavericks accountable for their toxic team culture

In Opinion
A basketball is in the middle of the court.
The NBA season should be shortened to 70 games so players are not benched due to injuries or rest. ( Katie Albertson / Daily Titan )

The Dallas Mavericks have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. Not for winning games, not for their future Hall-of-Fame star Dirk Nowitzki, but for a workplace that’s allegedly been filled with rampant sexual harassment for over a decade. Team owner Mark Cuban must accept full responsibility.

Although the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movements have led the discussion on sexual misconduct, Hollywood certainly isn’t the only industry that’s been a nightmare for countless women.

Eyes are now on Cuban and the NBA — where it seems some high-powered individuals believe they can get away with whatever they want without any disciplinary consequences. The NBA has to make an example of Cuban and the Mavericks to show that it understands the gravity of the situation.

Former Mavericks team President Terdema Ussery has been accused of a myriad of sexual remarks against several women over the years, according to an article by Sports Illustrated. Ussery, who spent 18 years with the Mavericks before leaving the team in 2015, is being investigated by an outside counsel for predatory sexual behavior and groping multiple women.

Several women reported Ussery’s abusive behavior to the team’s human resources and supervisors, but no action was ultimately taken place, according to Sports Illustrated. They also reported half a dozen women who eventually left the Mavericks sports department due to feeling “vulnerable and devalued.” Unsurprisingly, Ussery denied these allegations.

Cuban claimed he was completely unaware of Ussery’s disturbing behavior until the reports came out, according to USA Today Sports.

“I can’t tell you how many times, particularly during all this (#MeToo) stuff has been coming out recently I asked our HR director, ‘Do we have a problem? Do we have any issues I have to be aware of?’ And the answer was ‘no’,” Cuban told Sports Illustrated.

Cuban is one of the most hands-on owners in all of professional sports. From frequently traveling with the team to fanboying over Dirk Nowitzki’s fadeaway jumper courtside. There’s no reason for anyone to believe Cuban had zero awareness of the misogynistic work environment.

He refused to take any action because it was impossible to fully resolve the issue, and instead ignored it entirely.

In 2014, former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was forced to sell the team after he was recorded making racist comments about African-Americans. Cuban shouldn’t be forced to sell the franchise. However, the league should punish the Mavericks with a $2.5 million maximum fine and take away their 2018 first-round draft pick to hold the Mavericks accountable for the allegations.

After Ussery was accused of sexual harassment, Cuban was also accused of sexual assault during an outing at a Portland nightclub in 2011. Willamette Week reported that a bar employee asked Cuban to pose for a picture with her. But after the photograph was taken, the woman claimed Cuban sexually assaulted her, according to Williamette Week.

Prosecutors decided not to pursue the case because there was conflicting evidence and the woman didn’t want to proceed with the allegation, according to the police report Cuban provided to Associated Press.

In the aftermath of the Mavericks investigation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to all 30 teams to open a confidential hotline for all league employees to report sexual harassment and other types of misconduct in the workplace, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. Silver plans to reach out to every team’s human resources department to resolve any past mismanagements.

With the Mavericks becoming the first major sports organization to be investigated for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, more allegations will hopefully come to light with other organizations.

Chances are unlikely that the Mavericks are the only institution to ever deal with a misogynistic workplace. As more of these stories come out, sports leagues need to be held accountable for their inexcusable misconduct.

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