According to a story published by The Vertical, a series of letters between the NBA and the NBA Players Association describe the concerns NBA’s Referees’ Association.
In a recent letter to Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, NBRA general counsel Lee Seham outlined what the union considers to be a lengthy pattern of documented violations by Cuban of the NBA constitution and “undue influence of the league’s management of its officials.”
“We consider the threat to the integrity of NBA basketball presented by Mr. Cuban’s misconduct to be real and growing,” Seham wrote on Dec. 9.
Cuban, of course, has been a longtime critic of officiating in the league. This report seems to indicate that those criticisms – though drawing many fines – are swaying the league in how it handles its officials, perhaps to an unfair extent.
In response to the league rejecting Seham’s premise that Cuban holds an “inappropriate influence” over referee employment decisions, the union’s general counsel responded: “No other owner has communicated to our members with such force that he exercises control over their careers. He has communicated that he played a pivotal role in the termination of Kevin Fehr, a referee who met league performance standards. He has communicated to an NBRA board member, during contract negotiations, that the referees would continue to be at-will employees. He has told a referee, during a game, that he follows that referee’s game reports.”
An NBA spokesperson would not submit an official response to Seham’s accusations, calling it “an attempt to undermine the necessary transparency we have brought to the game. ”
Cuban was asked about the report and responded in the story via email.
“To suggest I have influence is to suggest that the NBA officials can be influenced,” Cuban told The Vertical in an email. “If an official can be influenced by pressure from anyone, they should not be in the NBA. I don’t believe they can be influenced. As far as my influence on employment, several years ago I sent a list to the NBA of officials who had been NBA officials for more than a decade and never made the playoffs.
Cuban says he simply was asking if being an NBA ref was a “lifetime job” even if the quality of officiating was diminishing over time.
“At what point do we recognize that there is someone else out there who can do a better job?” Cuban asked. “I did this knowing that any terminated refs could receive substantial pensions. As far as anything else, I’ve been the same way since I bought the team and have no reason to change.”
Sounds like Cuban isn’t changing anytime soon, and the league is more than fine with him being critical.
(Via The Vertical)