Mark Cuban tries to get NBA fans to narc on themselves

Nice try, FBI Marc

Being the businessman that Mark Cuban is, sometimes he would like information directly from the public. The people in the big office chairs may not give credence to what the masses think. If they want to remove the most highly-regarded name in the history of television from an app they will, despite our objections, but they do still want the information. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is the NBA’s biggest game of the season to date, so as one of the league’s 30 franchise owners, Cuban decided to hold an impromptu focus group about pirated streams.

Cuban went to the social media platform with the most robust NBA conversation — Twitter — and decided to directly ask the users if they were using an alternative source to watch the Miami Heat defeat the Boston Celtics 103-84 on Sunday night.

The result was the owner of the Dallas Mavericks being given a new nickname — Narc Cuban. Only if he was wearing a Mavericks uniform and assigned to defend the basket during a game would he have been dunked on with more consistency and voracity. Actually, what happened on Twitter would still be worse. At least during a game he could tackle a player in mid-air and get ejected.

Nice try, FBI Mark Narc Cuban

There is no way to stop the memes of him being a ham-handed informant. I should have made one with Cuban’s face on that trash can in the car insurance commercial about the poor undercover agent.

Maybe Cuban has been curious about this subject for a while. He is as much of an NBA fan as those of us who didn’t side-step out of the dot-com bubble at the perfect time. Cuban might simply want to know all of the ways that fans are accessing the game these days.

Or maybe his cable went out. If YouTube TV can malfunction for viewers of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals nationwide, then there certainly could have been a malfunction at his palatial estate. At that point, he would be just another NBA fan scrambling to find a way to view an important game. It happened to me during Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Being that I wasn’t an NBA owner at that time, I could treat the downtown connector in Atlanta like a Grand Prix to get to a bar and enjoy the game in anonymity.

There is also the possibility that Cuban was using this question to get the Elon blue checks to reveal the sources of unauthorized NBA streams. Thus allowing him and his billionaire brethren to do what they did to the NBA Streams subreddit in 2019, saddening broke fans of the league across the globe by getting it shut down.

Only Cuban knows his motivations. Being that he is an NBA franchise owner, I doubt that he has a favorable opinion of the ways that unlicensed servers distribute the televised product. I also highly doubt that the NBA is counting on a question that Cuban posed on Twitter to be what swings the battle against pirate streams in their favor. If that is the best that the league’s legal team can do, then how has no one challenged the existence of the NBA Draft, age eligibility, or the salary cap and won yet?

What is indisputably true about Cuban’s inquiry is that it provided an excellent opportunity for NBA fans to dunk on a billionaire. That group goes through great effort to suppress the free market when it comes to player salaries, fight with television providers and the result is fewer people having access to their local team’s games, and reward referees for making the game about themselves.

Fortunately, it has proved impossible to ruin a product as great as the NBA, but that fact doesn’t stop the powers that be from trying. So anytime that one of them wants to offer themselves as tribute to the fans, we are here to roast that person like a s’more.

These are your NBA Conference Finals All-Stars

Yes, Nikola made the cut.

Unfortunately, as hard as the Los Angeles Lakers played in the conference finals, a 2010 rematch did not emerge from the conference finals. Both legendary franchises fell to a 3-0 deficit. The Celtics have been holding on for dear life, but should never have been down that bad.

Regardless of the result of the conference finals, here are the players whose effort resulted in a highly entertaining series.

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Proof that the playoffs are more about playmaking than efficiency. This is not to say that Butler was reckless or cold from the field, but there were no 56-point games on 68 percent from the field.

What he did instead was make whatever play the Heat needed and operated largely as the best player on the floor. If they needed a basket he would sink it, a turnover he created, an assist he drew in the defense and made the pass. Butler spent a great deal of this series at the free throw line, mostly making up for any tough nights from the field. He proved to be the same terror on the floor whether he makes five field goals or 12. He is the Heat’s star. The living embodiment of “Heat Culture.”

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He largely did whatever he wanted to the Lakers in the first half of Game 1. Then the team with the best defensive rating of those in the conference finals put the two-time MVP to work. For those who watch Jokić with any type of regularity, it was unusual to see him unable to assert his will on his opponent for long stretches of action.

In Game 2 he shot a startling 42.9 percent from the field and wouldn’t get to 50 percent for the rest of the series. The Nuggets still managed to sweep the Lakers and Jokić recorded triple doubles in three of the four games. It was his 15-point fourth quarter in Game 3 that put the Lakers in the dreaded 0-3 hole, and he closed the door in Game 4 stifling Anthony Davis in the post along with a 30-point triple double. Jokić had the type of performance that launches great players into pop culture. Viewers get to see the star struggle in real time, and also that athlete come out on the other side successful.

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He was on some serious Stephen Curry vibes in this series. The Nuggets’ top scorer in the Western Conference Finals averaged 32.5 points per game on 52.7/40.5/95 shooting splits. Murray struggled on offense in only one game.

Through three quarters in Game 2 he scored 14 points on 5-17 from the field, 2-9 from the 3-point line. It was Bruce Brown and the Nuggets’ starters besides Jokić and Murray who cut into the Lakers’ 13-point lead near the start of the third quarter. Then in the fourth, Murray scored 23 points and missed only one shot. He spent the rest of the series tormenting Lakers fans and defenders with shot making that left everyone’s mouth agape.

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He gave the Celtics backcourt the blues throughout the series. One of the Heat’s big-three undrafted players, at times it appeared that he deserved a double team as much as Butler. Through the first four games of the series he shot no worse than 54 percent from the field. Games 2-4 he made at least 63 percent of his shots in each one.

Martin scored in every way possible. Midrange fadeaways, catch-and shoot threes, taking people to the basket, however points were made available in this series Martin took them with great force. The Celtics have a better roster than the Heat, but not when Martin spends an entire series singeing the nets in that way

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I swore that he had 30 points in Game 3, but then I looked at the box score later and he only attempted five field goals. Those four makes though, if the referees went Rock and Jock and decided to count them for five each I would not have minded. The hammers that he dropped the heads of the Celtics made John Henry and Thor look like they were swinging something from a tool box.

It was a vicious performance as his teammates poured in the points from elsewhere. Throughout the rest of the series he was the aggressive big that they needed to own the paint. Adebayo is the NBA All Star, not Robert Williams or Al Horford, and he played like it in this series.

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Reference material for the only NBA honor that will likely ever be named after Scottie Pippen.

Nikola Jokić won the Magic Johnson Western Conference Finals MVP. The NBA is free to make its choice, but I have mine. If I was an NBA player, watching Murray bury shot after shot would make me more uneasy than poor temperature control in an opposing stadium.

Without his shot making the Nuggets and Lakers are still battling in the Western Conference Finals. He brought the Orlando bubble to Denver and Los Angeles, and rained points like a torrential Florida storm.

Murray is certainly not an ideal NBA defender. At his size he is limited. However, the broadcasters noticed his effort on that side of the ball. Combine that with a 50/40/90 shooting performance while averaging 30 points per game, and that makes Murray the ideal lead guard.

If D’Angelo Russell can be ‘better’ than your starting point guard and shooting guard, then why isn’t he?

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After a playoff series that highlighted why a 27-year-old former No. 2 overall NBA Draft pick could be playing for his fifth franchise next season, like clockwork, D’Angelo Russell couldn’t help himself and did something dumb.

“I’m nice. I know who I am as a player. … I can be better than your point guard. I can be better than your shooting guard,” he told Jovan Buha of The Athletic, about his game entering this offseason.

Confidence is a necessity. Conceit is needless.

When the Denver Nuggets swept the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals earlier this week, it sent Denver to a place they’ve never been before — the NBA Finals — and Los Angeles back to the drawing board. And one of the first things that Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka has to do is figure out what he’s going to do with Russell, who is an unrestricted free agent.

During the conference finals, Russell only scored a total of 25 points. He came off the bench in Game 4 and finished his season with four points, two rebounds, and two assists on a night in which he only played 15 minutes and was 2-of-4 from the field. After multiple games throughout the series, Russell went back to the court to get up some postgame shots — it didn’t translate.

Despite his cold shooting in the series, the meaningless shots he took after games, that asinine quote he gave about his abilities, and how bad he was on defense, what’s so bothersome about all of this is that it seems like he hasn’t learned from his past.

Russell secretly filmed Nick Young during his first Lakers stint

Russell’s first stint with the Lakers was cut short after he broke the ultimate locker room code of conduct when he secretly filmed former teammate Nick Young discussing his dealings with other women when he was in a very public relationship with rapper Iggy Azalea at the time.

“D’Angelo, great guard, but had a problem when (Young) and the whole thing went down, so we had to get him out of there,” said Magic Johnson during his time as the Lakers team president.

The Lakers sent Russell to Brooklyn for a fresh start. But before he could even play a game he was running his mouth — again — as he snitched on a teammate during his introductory press conference. “The workout was last night. Caris (LeVert) was supposed to be there, but he wasn’t” said Russell as he blasted his new teammate for no reason.

To some, the comments were overblown and weren’t a big deal. But, six years later, they’re proof that he has a history of not understanding when to keep his mouth closed — whether it be about the personal lives of his teammates, their whereabouts for offseason workouts, or his unrealistic beliefs about his role in the NBA.

D’Angelo Russell is a former All-Star who can help out many teams in the NBA next season — maybe even the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s just been interesting that he hasn’t quite figured out that he could help himself by playing better and talking less.

The end of an error

Goodbye, Dan Snyder

Dan Snyder has reached an agreement to sell the Washington Commanders to a group led by Josh Harris, co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.

The group agreed to buy the once-proud franchise for a whopping $6.05, according to ESPN. This exceeds the $4.65 million that Rob Walton paid for the Denver Broncos.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement for the sale of the Commanders franchise with Josh Harris, an area native, and his impressive group of partners,” the Snyders said in a statement. “We look forward to the prompt completion of this transaction and to rooting for Josh and the team in the coming years.”

The deal is still subject to approval by the NFL.

Hard Knocks meets Succession

As our DJ Dunson wrote, the saga of Dan Snyder’s selling the Washington Commanders has had more twists and turns than Waystar Royco in HBO’s Succession.

Snyder’s tenure has been marred by drama, which includes allegations that Snyder enabled sexual harassment.

As Jane McManus wrote, there’s no way Snyder should be let off the hook for all the damage wrought in Washington during his time as owner of the variously-named football team there.

In addition to running a toxic workplace, Snyder was alleged to have kept separate financial records for around a decade.

Snyder also allegedly prevented billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos from joining a private auction for the Commanders due to a long-standing grudge.

And let’s not even get into all the name changes

Dan Snyder’s perpetual sale of the Washington Commanders is Hard Knocks meets Succession

Please go away.

The saga of Dan Snyder’s selling the Washington Commanders has had more twists and turns than Waystar Royco in HBO’s Succession. It shouldn’t take this long to move one from one corrupt billionaire to another and yet, every few weeks, there’s another twist that’s giving these storylines new legs. Who knew boardroom settings could be so melodramatic? Washington Commanders’ sales updates are Hard Knocks for the CNBC crowd.

The Snyder-era Commanders have been even just as dramaturgically ridiculous. It’s been seven months since Snyder secured Bank of America Securities (BofA) to oversee the sale of the dilapidated billion-dollar legacy franchise that attracted a host of bidders. However, it feels like it’s been years. In that span, a group led by the current majority owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Magic Johnson submitted the $6.05 billion winning bid, while the leading contender led by Jay Z, and Amazon’s multi-multi-billionaire founder Jeff Bezos was rebuffed.

Instead of an open and shut sale to Bezos, Snyder allegedly blocked him from making a serious bid out of spite because he owned the Washington Post, which investigated Snyder’s malfeasance as head of the Commanders. Snyder is so terrible, he’s got me out here defending one of the leading antagonists of capitalism. My fandom is cooked. There were rumors Snyder would keep the franchise if his demands for indemnification weren’t met. If that wasn’t enough, a mysterious investor with a lottery ticket in the form of a green energy company dubiously valued at $50 billion and overseas benefactors nearly intercepted the winning bid. Eventually, it was sold to a real-life Kendall Roy facsimile in Josh Harris.

It should have ended there, but that’s how it works in the Snyderverse. Even after a sale has been agreed to though, the Washington Commanders are still haunted by Dan Snyder’s decisions. Why hasn’t this show been canceled yet? Essentially, because franchises have grown too damn expensive for even billionaires to buy on their own. Josh Harris couldn’t afford to buy on his own, and since renting isn’t an option he went with the next best option. He has corralled 17 limited partners, most notably D.C. billionaire Mitchell Rales and the aforementioned Magic Johnson, according to Front Office Sports’ AJ Perez. The league cap is set at 25.

Harris, who also owns the New Jersey Devils, and the Premier League’s portion of Crystal Palace FC is stretched thin by his investments in sports franchise ownership portfolio and by the need to eventually finance a new stadium for the Commanders. This isn’t a reason to feel sympathy for the poor billionaire, but The Athletic reports that the league is deliberating over whether to make an exception by allowing more debt than their rules currently permit to approve Harris buying out Snyder’s 100 percent equity.

Bids on NFL franchises are getting absurd

According to league rules, prospective buyers can borrow as much as $1.1 billion secured against the franchise. Harris is set to crack that limit, which creates a new precedent for a controlling partner. When Snyder purchased the Redskins in 1999, his limited partners borrowed against their personal businesses, but the worry about them defaulting on loans wasn’t as great because of their piecemeal minority stakes.

As this plays out, losing bidders like Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos could make a run, but there were questions about his financial viability as well. Most importantly, Snyder wants out because the Harris group has agreed to give Snyder indemnification against civil suits that may be filed against actions related to his tenure as owner, and the league is so eager to move on that they’re skirting their rules.

This could have been a much more simpler deal if Snyder had sold the franchise to Bezos’ deep pockets. Alas, here we are. This may ultimately turn out to be a routine financial inspection, according to Perez’s reporting, but at what point do these franchises become too expensive for even the most affluent to buy? The Pre-Steinbrenner Yankees were owned by CBS, but as a private trade organization, the NFL doesn’t permit corporations to buy franchises. But, at some point, they may have to relax that policy.

Of course, this saga could all end by the next full owner’s meeting on May 22, where they’ll approve Harris’ entrance into their NFL old boys club. Waiting for the Snyder sale to become official is like waiting for Logan Roy to die and I’m not popping the bubbly yet because I’ve been fooled before.

Follow DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex

Bob Huggins kept his job, Trump got his CNN Town Hall — white men won Wednesday

White men won. Again.

Sports and politics have always served as the smoking gun when it comes to proving that white male privilege is a real thing. It’s the reason why all of our presidents — besides one — have been white men, and why that same demographic dominates head coaching positions in sports. On Wednesday, the latest chapter of “White Men Can Get Away With Anything” was written. West Virginia didn’t fire Bob Huggins after he called Xavier fans “Catholic f**s” on a radio show. CNN didn’t cancel its Town Hall with Donald Trump a day after he was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll.

It’s all connected.

Huggins gets to keep his job, but has agreed to a million-dollar salary reduction, a three-game suspension, and some sensitivity training.” In other words, he’s out of some cash, gets a mini-vacation, and has to listen to people tell him why it’s not nice to use gay slurs. This is what they call a punishment in Morgantown — especially when you’re an alum.

Wednesday was also the day Trump — a man who was once caught on tape saying he grabs women “by the pu**y,” and had at least 26 sexual misconduct allegations against him — had a Town Hall on CNN, a day after a jury found that Carroll had “sufficiently proved that Mr. Trump sexually abused her nearly 30 years ago in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan,” according to the New York Times, in a case in which she was awarded $5 million in damages.

This is what happens when people feel like they’ve “gotta hear both sides” despite one side having a proven track record of having nothing of worth to say. But, this isn’t just about a school holding on to a Hall of Fame basketball coach, or a network hoping that putting a former President — who’s twice-impeached — that’s facing multiple ongoing investigations during a Presidential bid will make the MAGA crowd run back to their channel for news. It’s about the continued enabling of one segment of people, and how their history of rarely being held accountable brought us to this moment.

Fear is the culprit. You can go a long way when people are intimidated by you.

“That’s how Trump became president. That’s exactly what happened. We got rid of bullies, a real bully showed up, and nobody knew how to handle him,” Chris Rock said in his 2018 stand-up special Tamborine, which could also apply to Huggins in some ways.

On Valentine’s Day in 2011, Syracuse had lost two straight and was in the middle of a three-game home losing streak. The Orange rallied late to beat Huggins and West Virginia 63-52 that night at the then-Carrier Dome. When Huggins walked into the media room for the postgame press conference there was an immediate hush. “We didn’t make shots and we turned it over 16 times,” an ESPN recap recorded him saying during his opening remarks. “We turn the ball over 16 times, we’re not going to win.”

He didn’t take a single question during the press conference that night.


Because most were too scared to ask him anything after a loss. I watched from the back of the room as reporters squirmed in their seats. After the room fell quiet for a few seconds because no one had anything for him, he turned around and walked out. Silence can be deafening.

It’s kind of like that time Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, to cheat for him by overturning the state’s presidential election results on a call in January of 2021.

The circumstances and the stakes were different, but the vibes were the same. Two men using their presence and reputation as tools to get people to do what they want, or make it known that the room was theirs — even if they were the visiting coach.

In a perfect world, Bob Huggins would have been fired, and CNN would have canceled Trump’s Town Hall. But, as we know, this world is far from perfect. If this was a utopian society gay slurs wouldn’t exist, and neither would people like Donald Trump. Wednesday was a reminder that we live in a world where white men thrive and are rarely held accountable in the same ways that women, Asians, Black, and Brown people, and the LGBTQ community are. The middle of the week wound up being a win for the bad guys, and evidence that Glen Kuiper will one day be back on the air calling games for the Oakland A’s again.

Every athlete accused of mistreating women is as expendable as a punter

Matt Araiza is still a free agent

I don’t want to offer a silver lining in the Matt Araiza case, because a woman was still allegedly gang raped, and the Punt God’s reported innocence doesn’t lessen the victim’s trauma. However, in the year that it took to conclude the legal matter, did anyone miss Araiza? As much as his leg cannon can flip field position, it wasn’t going to flip the Buffalo Bills’ season, and that’s the biggest reason he missed what would’ve been his rookie year.

“I can only hope that now people will assess me on the facts and not what was falsely claimed in both the civil suit and in the press,” Araiza said, in part, in a statement issued to ProFootballTalk on Tuesday.

Punters are on the field five to (hopefully not) 10 snaps a game, and in the grand scheme of an NFL campaign, no one pined for Araiza. The same can’t be said for Deshaun Watson and Miles Bridges, whose alleged mistreatment of women earned them a year-plus away from their sports. (Watson has denied the allegations. Bridges pleaded no contest to a felony count of injuring a child’s parent in exchange for three years probation and no jail time after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in front of their two children.) While the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, and Charlotte Hornets were all worse off without their star players, who gives a shit?

Am I supposed to feel bad for Texans, Browns, and Hornets fans? They get their brains stomped in every year, so it was business as usual. Even if it wasn’t, player absences — due to legal matters, injuries, or otherwise — take teams out of contention all the time, and leagues and clubs carry on with bottom lines intact.

The Los Angeles Dodgers sans Trevor Bauer are proof of that, and baseball fans’ apathetic approach to the pitcher’s extended absence should serve as a message to commissioners who act like their hands are tied every time an employee is involved in a dicey sexual or physical assault/mistreatment case. While a court didn’t convict Bauer — who denied the allegations against him — of anything, his purported actions weren’t acceptable in any century of human existence, and he just so happened to be in one that treats shitbags like him like the pariahs they are.

Every pro athlete is expendable

Every pro athlete on this planet is expendable. Sports are entertainment, and the stoppage during COVID showed that society could function without 97 MPH sliders, 75-yard punts, 50-yard scrambles, and rim-rattling alley-oops. Forgive me if I don’t have the energy for people who shout, “What about the falsely accused?”

That sucks, yet I’d still rather err on the side of the alleged victims. I know it’s not the way leagues have typically done things in the past, and the history of women being second-guessed every time they accuse a man of abuse is exactly the point. Mario Batali, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Karl Malone, and countless other scumbags got MeToo’d for a reason. On Tuesday, a jury found the former president of the United States liable for sexually abusing and defaming a woman.

Donald Trump has to pay E. Jean Carroll $5 million as part of the civil suit, but he has slipped out of more than a dozen sexual misconduct accusations, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Trump lost the only one of them determined by a jury.

Well, the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB aren’t beholden to due process or innocent until proven guilty. They could, and should, treat every situation as if the alleged perpetrator is a rookie punter. We’ve now seen an ace, a franchise quarterback, and a borderline all-star miss entire seasons, and none of their corresponding teams got relocated. Sure, Michael Jordan is in talks to sell his majority stake in the Hornets, but that’s likely going to improve the team.

I don’t feel bad for Bills fans, Matt Araiza, or the money he missed out on (but will likely recoup after Tuesday’s revelations). The guy’s job is to kick a ball seven times a Sunday for 17 weeks, yet he’s not the only person who can be reduced to playing with balls for a living.

It’s a privilege, not a right, to be a professional athlete.

Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia is doing a bad job of proving he’s not Robert Sarver

Image for article titled Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia is doing a bad job of proving he’s not Robert Sarver

Monday morning, people weren’t talking about how the Phoenix Suns beat the Denver Nuggets in a crucial Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. They skipped over the fact Devin Booker and Kevin Durant combined to score 72 points on a night that Nikola Jokic proved that he’s the rightful MVP with 53 points and 11 assists. Why? Because Mat Ishbia upstaged the main event like Lil Mama at the 2009 VMAs.

When the courtside antics of an owner are generating more headlines and discussions than the play of three of the best players in the league — it’s a problem.

Nikola Jokić got T-ed up for Ishiba’s behavior

The Suns’ new governor (owner) has made an emphatic name for himself in the last few months, and it involved more than the flopping he did on Sunday night from his courtside seat, where his childish behavior led to a two-time MVP receiving a technical foul.

Ishbia recently bought the Suns for $4 billion, as he became the man that took over for the NBA’s worst owner — Robert Sarver. An investigation into the team under the old regime proved that Sarver was a flaming misogynist and racist that had to go, as he openly discussed his sex life and liked to say the N-word. With Sarver out, things were supposed to be different in Phoenix.

“I’m not selling this team ever,” Ishbia told Front Office Sports. “I’m going to own this team for my whole life.”

“It’s only been three months, but he’s been great about letting us do our jobs. He’s not a micromanager,” Suns CFO Jim Pitman said in the same report. “He identifies the two or three important things that he wants to improve and he gives us the resources we need to make sure that we’re an elite organization.”

Sounds great, right? Well, that’s not what Ishbia’s other employees are saying.

Meet the new boss… same as the old boss

Last month, Bloomberg released a report in which more than two dozen employees of Ishbia’s company —United Wholesale Mortgage — alleged the company of having a toxic work culture that included racism and sexual harassment…just like the Suns under Sarver, or how things used to be with the Dallas Mavericks — who are owned by another rich guy who’s known for his courtside antics.

And just last week, Ishbia was on Bill Simmons’ podcast where he openly discussed his dislike for Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.

“He doesn’t like me and I don’t like him. That’s how it is,” he said.

“His company used to be No 1 in mortgage, UWM, my business, is No. 1 in mortgage. I don’t like the way they do business in a lot of things. He probably doesn’t like the way we do things. We’re in the same town. We compete. We’re winning. That’s how it is right now.”

By Monday morning, Ishbia was doing damage control by releasing a tweet about how basketball “should be and is the only story.” But, that’s not how this works. The franchise used to have an owner that played the background until his problematic ways became public. And now, the team has an owner who craves attention while facing some of the very same allegations the guy before him did.

The Phoenix Suns had a Robert Sarver problem. It’s starting to feel like they’re on the verge of having a Mat Ishbia problem.

Sauce Gardner didn’t know who Jessica Alba is

Aaron Rodgers and Sauce Gardner at MSG

There are a vast amount of “celebrities” that come and go through the G/O Media offices in New York to shoot videos with our sites. Some are instantly recognizable — like Danny DeVito or Rainn Wilson — while others leave me scratching my head, not knowing who they are or why they’re famous. A Google search — or a look at IMDB — might be necessary to figure out who some of these folks are. Sorry, I didn’t catch the sixth season of Real Housewives of Sheboygan.

While I can’t recognize reality show “stars,” New York Jets corner and Defensive Rookie of the Year Sauce Gardner — taking in Game 2 of the New York Knicks-Miami Heat series with new teammate Aaron “Ayahuasca” Rodgers — wasn’t sure who the famous actress seated near him was.

‘We’re about to sit by Jessica Alba,’ and I’m just like ‘Oh, I don’t know who that is,’” Gardner told reporters. “And he [Rodgers] just looked at me, he looked at me like I’m crazy.”

Rodgers rightly razzed the 22-year-old Sauce.

“It was great vibes, but that whole night he would just keep asking me out of nowhere, like ‘do you know who that person is?” Gardner said. “I’m like ‘bro, that’s Amar’e Stoudemire, I know who that is. Now you’re just picking on me.’”

What was Gardner’s excuse for his unawareness?

Alba, 42, took it in stride.

While I’m shocked that the DROY couldn’t recognize her, I guess I shouldn’t be, as Gen Z only found out about Metallica from Stranger Things.

Jerry Reinsdorf, why don’t you stop talkin’ for a while?

Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf talks with the news media during a meeting of Major League Baseball owners, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Palm Beach, Fla.

We can’t be far from sports teams and organizations banning any of their management team from speaking at any kind of conference or forum. It’s what started the whole Gregg Berhalter fiasco, even if he thought it was a private, closed event. Jerry Reinsdorf pulled the same trick yesterday, and with fans of both his teams in Chicago in open revolt against his ownership, you’d think this would be an excellent time for him to remain in shut-the-fuck-up mode as he usually is. But when you’re Reinsdorf and so removed from the people you pretend to serve, you probably don’t have any idea what reality is.

Reinsdorf’s quotes spread far beyond the South and West sides of Chicago though, as they are certainly shared by a fair few of his ownership brethren both in MLB and the NBA. Blake Schuster of USA Today’s Bet FTW had a whole thread, and we can pick it apart here:

It will get better from here, but Reinsdorf is not talking about those who run their teams poorly. In his mind, the dumb owners are the ones who spend money or don’t hold the line the way the old guard like he and others do (Reinsdorf was a major figure in baseball’s collusion case in the 80s so you’d think he’d learn, but let’s not overdose on logic), as you’ll soon see:

Again, Reinsdorf’s problem isn’t that he might end up with a bad player. It’s that he’ll have to spend money at all. He’s not arching an eyebrow at Bob Nutting or John Fisher, but at Steve Cohen or Peter Seidler.

White Sox, Bulls fans want stars

White Sox fans wanted Manny Machado. Or Aaron Judge. Or any of the shortstops they could have had this past winter. They wanted another starter. They wanted bullpen arms. Bulls fans wanted something other than the mismatched array of Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic. They wanted 3-and-D supporting cast. They want the team to be in the luxury tax, which they’ve earned considering that they still buy all the tickets available. Nobody has gotten any of that, and if Jerry’s so smart, how come neither of these teams has won dick in 18 years? Because as you’ll soon see, that’s exactly how he wants it.

‘Sports is a business of failure’

Now we get to the meat of it, and what MLB is really after:

This was the ethos behind the expansion of the playoffs in MLB, and the room-temperature lager that Reinsdorf has served up at the United Center with the Bulls. In his mind, and a lot of other owners’, it’s too much of a pain in the ass (or wallet) to construct a true power. But if you can fool your fans into thinking that if everything breaks the team’s way, they’ll believe you did a good job if those things happen even if they’re beyond your control. It’s enough to get a B- (which I guess I can’t criticize because that was my ethos in school too, but I wasn’t running two sports franchises). Get into the playoffs and try to convince your fans that it’s simply the fates that are against them when your 88-win baseball team or 47-win basketball team gets railroaded by an actually serious team. Oh well!

Unless you want to hire your overmatched, drunk buddy to make up for a mistake you think you made three decades ago and basically poison what should have been an exciting young baseball team for the foreseeable future. Then it’s perfectly OK to tell your GM and front office to do one.

Anyone who spent time in the real bleachers of Wrigley back in the day, especially in center field, knows that any yahoo desperate enough can bet on the next pitch within seconds, and they didn’t have a phone to do it. Also, get fucked. It’s as Reinsdorf-ian as it can get to take something that has basically earned universal praise from fans and might even lure a few back to the game and shit on it because they can’t vacuum up a few extra dollars.

The major sports leagues keep changing

While Reinsdorf is the biggest culprit of simply choosing not to put either of his teams over the top simply because he doesn’t feel like it, he’s hardly unique. And every league constantly changes its rules and systems to make sure that only a few teams can swing for the downs, and only for a short time. The expanded playoff fields and random natures of baseball and soccer have been the route MLB and MLS have chosen. Hard salary caps keep the NHL and NFL all on level terms for the most part, or at least tightly bracketed. The new CBA in the NBA is the league moving toward that as best they can, though the difference one or two players can make in basketball will always see an aristocracy.

It is sad that a team’s fanbase can be launching as much of an insurrection as they can, and someone like Reinsdorf can simply ignore it or not even see it from his ivory tower. The White Sox and Bulls mean a lot more to a lot of people than they do to Reinsdorf, who clearly now only sees them as an ATM and has nothing but contempt for anyone who might threaten that. Sports and teams should not just be any other business in a portfolio, given what they can mean to a community. Perhaps that’s even more true for the Sox, who can be and should be a source of pride for a section of Chicago that has been kicked around pretty damn hard for a decade. And yet this is what men like Reinsdorf have allowed these teams to become. And now he’s not even pretending anything else.

Cue the Odd Couple theme

On the brighter side…

While Snoop is an avowed Ducks fan (or was), it’s still quite the juxtaposition for him to be in the running to buy a hockey team. And not just a hockey team, but perhaps the blandest hockey team anyone could think of, that is if most anyone could remember that the Senators still exist. This is a team so dull-assed that they don’t even play in Ottawa, but in some weigh station outside of it, which isn’t too different from being sentenced to perform in a suburb of Branson. Ottawa may be the capital, but it also mostly exists in case your car breaks down between Montreal and Toronto, as you’d only be anywhere near there to get between the two far more interesting places. The team itself has a history I’m told, but no one is able to locate any records of it. The Sens’ entire existence has been that girlfriend your friend in 7th grade had but you don’t know her, she lives in Canada. Perhaps no team could use a spicing-up that Snoop could provide, but there are some challenges too great.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate as he continues to play with the matches known as staying in White Sox business.