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Mavericks’ harassment scandal is Mark Cuban’s problem to fix

A rather jarring night in the NBA last night when a damning story from Sports Illustrated broke about a toxic, horrible, maddening and saddening work environment in Dallas around the Mavericks.

It details institutionalized harassment that goes to the highest levels of the organization and elicited this response from Mark Cuban and this from the team website reporter named in the original piece.

It’s a disgusting tale. The league, in a statement, said “such behaviour is completely unacceptable and we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter,” and I do think it will be a major test of both Cuban and the NBA as a whole.

The league, overall, is a bastion of inclusiveness, respect and safety but this is an issue that will test the leadership at both the team and league levels.

But most particularly Cuban.

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In every dealing I’ve ever had with him – and there haven’t been a lot but there have been enough – he’s come across not exactly as a micro-manager but certainly as someone who was pretty much hands-on in every aspect of his organization.

I have reason not to take him at his word that this catches him entirely by surprise, and that he will react swiftly to fix what seems to be a very broken office environment. He’d better.

There isn’t a more public nor outspoken owner in the league than Cuban. He’s near the team bench during games, he holds forth with the media more often than anyone else in his position and he’s either wonderful for the league as a whole or a detriment, you can probably make a case for both.

But now he’s under an entirely different spotlight, one that’s far more serious than refereeing metrics or salary cap issues or playoff seeding.

Fostering the kind of atmosphere that Sports Illustrated described is despicable and what Cuban knew when is almost beside the point. He is the face of that franchise and every fan knows it. He’s made himself into that and what goes on there has to be seen as his responsibility whether or not he had first-hand knowledge.

He is the guy at the top and he welcomes that position. Now he has to do something with it to rid the organization – and the league – of this stench.

This is now a Mark Cuban problem and Mark Cuban needs to fix it and fix it quickly.

There’s been a lot of curling in my life of late and curling always makes me think of Scotland for some reason and Scotland always makes me think of bagpipes for some reason so …

Two away goals?

Things looking good for the TFCs who, in case you hadn’t noticed, began their Champions League thing last night.

Yeah, I know. Playing already in the dead of winter near Denver and are back here on Tuesday night.

So much for the off-season, eh?

There’s no way we’re going to get to the ginormous length of last weekend’s mailbag because nothing has happened to create so many questions on one topic (although it is early and you never know) but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a lot of good, challenging questions.

That’s where you come in and a stop by askdoug@thestar.ca with whatever’s on your mind would be a good place to start.

So, get cracking, please and thanks.

I put this on the tweeter machine yesterday afternoon when I saw it and I imagine some of you might have seen it there.

But I also know some Irregular are tweeter-averse and I  am entirely fine with that and sometimes wish I could be.

So, read it, digest it, take it to heart. I don’t know Emily Potter except by sports reputation as a young woman of great promise in the Canada Basketball pipeline, she’s continuing a crazy long connection between Utah and Canada in women’s basketball – hi, Kim! Hi Shona! Hell it’s all here — but I am immensely proud of her for making this public and if it helps one other person struggling with the ravages of depression seek help, it will have helped incredibly.

I get a lot of unsolicited e-mails from a whole lot of sports organizations I’ve never interacted with or covered by the one that landed early this morning trumpeting this weekend’s season-opening games in the Botswana Rugby Union League might take the cake as the most random.

Of course I was up in time to watch the final two women’s bobsleigh runs, who wasn’t?

But if you get caught flipping channels to see what else is going on and stumble across Don Cherry about 7:45 a.m., that’s almost too much for the heart to take.

The Raptors?

Well the end is nigh for the seemingly never-ending all-star break with an optional workout this evening and then a full-on practice tomorrow before the weekend games.

Not much is going on – Monday was as travel day for anyone who was in L.A., Tuesday was a day to loaf a bit – but if Masai and Bobby are going to fill that 15th roster spot with someone currently in the NBA, they better hope buyouts start happening.

A player currently in the NBA has to be clear of waivers by March 1 to be playoff eligible so I’d presume things will pick up in the next 48 hours.

Players in, say, Europe or China aren’t under such rules and keep that in mind because those are places the Raptors would look.