Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was visibly stunned in the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game when news broke that the NBA was suspending the season after Rudy Gobert reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
“It seemed more like out of a movie than reality,” said Cuban, who agreed with the League’s precautionary decision to protect players, its workforce and fans.
Dallas will be creating a program to support employees during the sudden work stoppage:
“The Mavs will work with our and the arenas hourly employees to make sure they continue to have income,” Cuban told The Athletic. “I know the Hawks are doing the same thing.”
Cuban copied Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler on the email and he replied: “We are indeed and feel strongly it’s both the right thing to do and good business,” he wrote.
“This is crazy. This can’t be true,” the Mavs owner told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi during an in-game interview, summing up his initial reaction. “I mean, it’s not within the realm of possibility. It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”
The rest of the Mavericks’ 113-97 win played out as usual, albeit in surreal circumstances. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was informed about the NBA’s decision as soon as Cuban and described it as “good information to have for this game” because he felt comfortable extending key players’ minutes more than he otherwise would have.
“This is not a situation where you fake it ’til you make it or try to sound or act important,” Cuban said after the game. “The NBA has hired people with expertise in those areas and they are working with people from the government and other people with expertise. We have to defer to them and that’s exactly what we will do.”
Cuban said the NBA has great flexibility regarding when the season might resume because arenas typically don’t have much activity in the summer.
“It’s stunning, but we are where we are,” Cuban said. “We have to be smart in how we respond. This is people’s lives at stakes. This isn’t about basketball, this isn’t about the Mavericks. This isn’t about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people’s lives are at stake. I’m a lot more worried about my kids and my mom who is 82 years old — in talking to her and telling her to stay in the house — than when we play in our next game.”