Last week, the Dallas Mavericks organization came out with the mother of all mea culpas after owner Mark Cuban ducked punishment from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for gross sexual misconduct and a hostile-to-women workplace culture in the business office.
Cuban’s excuse, that he was wrapped up in the basketball operations side and had left the day-to-day business to his underlings, became a demonstration of why you should avoid doing exactly that if you’re the top guy on the pyramid.
Now, it’s time to find out whether Cuban can put his money where his mouth is, because a new heap of allegations just arrived courtesy of The Dallas Morning News, and how Cuban and the Mavericks respond will go a long way toward how the NBA treats them going forward.
ESPN reported Friday that the league office indeed has a very close eye on the team as new threats of scandal loom.
This time, it’s longtime team photographer Danny Bollinger who is at the center of the controversy.
Women in the Mavs organization are coming forward to say Bollinger made lewd comments and outright propositioned them while at work.
Two of the women said they informed investigators about Bollinger, but somehow the photographer’s name didn’t make it into the initial report that detailed the events that led to Cuban, nearly in tears, apologizing when confronted by Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
Bollinger was dismissed from the team’s trip to China and sent home Thursday, and he likely faces discipline and possible termination for his role in the culture of sexual misconduct in Dallas.
Silver, for his part, made clear the NBA’s position on the matter during a news conference prior to the Mavs’ preseason contest in Shanghai against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“My concern level is always extraordinarily high when you’re hearing stories about any inappropriate conduct in the workplace, whether it’s those allegations at the Mavericks or anywhere at our teams,” Silver said.
“I will say that, when the investigators did their review of the Mavericks’ organization, they made a decision to not make public allegations that were brought by employees who chose to remain anonymous,” he said. “What they did at the end of the investigation was, in essence, shift to the new management of the Dallas Mavericks, run by Cynthia Marshall, their findings with an understanding that Cynthia Marshall, then using a more traditional human resources process, would continue to investigate particular employees and then act on them.
“Part of the process, the new process we put in place with the Mavericks, was an ongoing reporting obligation to the league office. So Cynthia Marshall has been in constant contact with Kathy Behrens at the league office. We were aware of those additional allegations, and we are monitoring how they are responding to them.
“To the best of my knowledge, and I haven’t talked to Cynthia in the last few days, I think they’re well equipped now with the new organization they put in place to do the appropriate and necessary investigations and then to act on those findings.”
Which, in turn, suggests that the process the league agreed upon with the team is working as designed.
Rather than simply say “I’m sorry” and then have this swept under the rug, the investigators are doing their jobs, rooting out further issues so that they can be dealt with on an ongoing basis.
Bollinger and Cuban go way back; it was Bollinger who, in 1997, introduced Cuban to his wife, Tiffany Stewart.
Bollinger has held his job with the Mavericks since 2002.
Cuban’s response, however, was far from protective of his friend.
“To suggest that the Mavs hid anything or didn’t take an action for any reason, any whatsoever, is to claim that you believe that Cynt (Cynthia Marshall) and the professionals she brought in are not capable of doing their jobs,” Cuban said, according to The Morning News. “They have, they are and will continue to do the jobs they know how to do and continue to have carte blanche to make any personnel decisions they feel the need to make in accordance with the guidelines they defined, not what any outside organization feels they should be.”
The key point here is that Marshall has been deputized by Cuban with firing authority, putting an additional layer of independence on the investigation in the process.
Marshall, meanwhile, kept her remarks simple and rooted purely in her work.
“We were transparent about the findings of the independent investigation,” she said. “Our own internal investigations will not yield transparency. It’s private. It’s the normal course of doing business.”
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