Mark Cuban, Shark Who Must Constantly Move
“Move fast and break things” was Facebook’s motto, but really, it captured the ethos of an industry if not an era. Live in the future and forget the collateral damage in your wake. That’s the way to make it in tech.
It’s an assumption of power that denies control. The thinking is, and this is as charitably as I can interpret it, that the future is inevitable anyway, so your moves in pursuit of it aren’t to be blamed for any disruptions. The inefficient were living on borrowed time, dragging down society before this wakeup call. It’s not your fault if others failed to adapt. And hey, there is something to that perspective. Society can’t stay stagnant.
It’s an intoxicating ethos, this combination of absolution and inspiration. Among other things, it’s an ode to youth. Grownups concern themselves with consequences. The young forge forward and test limits.
It reminds me of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the original new money tech tycoon in sports, a guy who’s always talking confidently about the big bold future, while betraying very little control of his own chaotic operation. He’s moving fast, faster than the recent scandal. The older he gets, the younger he sounds. And that kind of works for him. He’s the most famous NBA owner, other than Michael Jordan.
Cuban has that “let’s surf while the bombs are going off” mentality and the denial of peril appears to be its own armor sometimes. It’s this boyish refusal to give in to adult world concerns, as though boundless energy and forward momentum can conquer whatever darkness just unfolded.
On court results have been so-so in Dallas for about a decade, but he retains plenty of admirers among fans and media alike. Cuban is the rare owner who’s almost an entertainment product in of himself. The team might be under fire in yet another alleged sexual misconduct scandal, but its owner is too famous to fail.
As the NBA-world subscribers likely know, ex-Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson is suing his former team, alleging that he was fired last summer as retaliation subsequent to Mark Cuban's chief of staff sexually assaulting Nelson’s nephew in a job interview. The Mavericks’ response, via Don Van Natta Jr. of ESPN:
The Dallas Mavericks responded Friday to a wrongful termination suit by Donnie Nelson, accusing the former longtime general manager of a “lengthy scheme to extort as much as $100 million” and saying the lawsuit was preceded by demands that he receive “in effect, a blackmail payment” in exchange for his promise not to expose the sexual orientation of owner Mark Cuban’s chief of staff or make other claims to embarrass the team.
Let’s freeze-frame right here, because the main allegation of this lawsuit and the Mavs’ rebuttal features a lot of the unknowable at this moment. Frankly, I flat out don’t trust either side. I don’t personally know Donnie Nelson, but he’s reputed to be a fairly sharp-elbowed NBA operator. Given that, and even though his family is involved here, I’d feel pretty naive in taking his lawsuit at face value.
As for the lawsuit’s target? Hey, I’ve witnessed Cuban bullshit in the face of the league’s ratings decline, often presenting data in a misleading manner. Sure, people might mislead when cornered, but Cubes does it unprompted, like a personal public relations blitz. Do I trust him on issues far more grave and potentially damaging to his operation? No, not so much.
So why am I freezing frame on the Mavericks’ allegation that Donnie Nelson hatched a scheme to extort them for $100 million? Because the allegation itself reveals something. Er, I’m also not trying to get sued here, so let’s say the allegation potentially reveals something.
Donnie Nelson, for whatever his flaws, isn’t regarded as an insane person. Some would say he’s a self-seeker and some would impugn his basketball decisions, but nobody thinks he’s delusional or especially radical. So why would Nelson, in the Mavs’ version of this story, attempt to extort a blameless team for a whopping $100 million? I doubt such a scheme would seem plausible if, say, aimed at the Oklahoma City Thunder. So why Dallas?