You Can Talk Rivalry, But Trashing A City Crosses The Line In Such Instances

By Gregory Moore
Updated: May 20, 2006

SAN ANTONIO – I’ve met Mark Cuban and I think he is a hell of a fan. Would I want to get to know Cuban on a more personal basis and learn how to be a successful businessman in my own right? Of course I would. Do I personally hate him? Hate is such a strong word. However when it comes to disrespecting San Antonio and what makes this city what it is, yeah I’m a little peeved at him. There has to be some sort of boundaries when want to trash talk and sometimes Cuban goes way over board. The problem with that is that Cuban is in a position to where his words can carry some serious weight. When you are a billionaire owner who just happens to own the very sports franchise that you are a fan of, saying off the cuff comments carry a different level to the opposing fans. And thus I take what Cuban said on his ESPN radio interview and what he wrote on his blog as being quite offensive. Here’s what Cuban said in a recent post on his blog: “Last week when we were there, there was a front page article about how much better San Antonio was than Dallas. Red McCombs saying that “people live in SA because they want to, but no one lives in Dallas because they want to, they live there because we have to” The article took shots at all things Dallas, and me. I thought it was great.

When I got the chance to return volley the other night during an ESPN radio interview, I certainly and happily did. The River walk river is nasty. I know it. Everyone who lives in San Antonio knows it. I said it. I just know that on crowded nights, everyone who walks that thing is afraid to death that some drunk is going to stumble by and knock him or her into the water. It’s that nasty. I mean come on folks. They can clean up lake Erie, but not the River walk?? Fighting words, right?

Of course not. It’s meaningless. Unless it comes from a rival.” Now Cuban has some valid points in the blog post on his site about rivalries. I think he hits the nail right on the head when he talks about how the NBA has gotten away from the team rivalries and focused so much on the individual match ups. I think he is 100% correct in saying that there are some fans at arenas that will heckle you just because and I definitely thought that the heckling of his wife was out of line. Sometimes the most classless of sports fans, even San Antonio Spurs fans, happens to the ones with the most money. Let’s face the fact. A jackass, no matter what financial worth he/she may have, is still a jackass. A rich jackass is one who simply has to the money to pay for being 1,000 times worse.

But to call out a city’s landmark or tourist attraction is hitting way below the belt and Mark knows it. For him to endorse the fans in basically saying that Michael Finley was a traitor (and I doubt that Cuban put folks up to it but it’s not like he’s stopping them either) is wrong. Finley was a class act for eight years in Big D and he should be a role model for guys like Devin Harris and Marquis Daniels in how to conduct yourself OFF THE COURT. But does that happen? No. Cuban should be helping the rest of us keep the rivalries strictly to what’s on the court and leave the other stuff out of it.

Now that’s not to say that the San Antonio Express News had the right to print what they did about Dallas, Texas. Look there is a reason why so many people in the media call papers like the Express-News the “plantation”. Original thought rarely comes out of that place; especially when it comes to sports coverage of the Spurs. I don’t think you can find a negative story about the Spurs this season Biased coverage does exist and I dare anyone to say otherwise. So when a story denigrating another city appeared in that publication, I thought it was wrong as well.

But what Cuban said on 103.3 FM wasn’t right and he knows that. Sure I’m down with the rivalry talk. Heck I’ve got a good rivalry going with my barber and we talk trash all the time because he used to cut Avery Johnson’s hair. Heck I love Avery as a person and for what he has done in the Alamo City. The Antioch Sports Complex came about because of AJ. But you won’t hear AJ bad mouth a city where he became part of the fabric. I think Cuban has miscalculated just how much ‘grief’ he is causing a still favorite son of this city.

You see, I believe that rivalries should be good, clean fun and never should have anything personal in them. I believe that the San Antonio Spurs are capable of whooping the Mavericks’ ass and I’m willing to wager Mark Cuban a beer and wings in the matter. I’m willing to keep it clean and while the two teams go at it, we go at with the trash talking. But when it’s all said and done, I’d like ‘our’ rivalry to be over with a handshake and the loser paying up. I don’t think Cuban is a bad guy and I’m sure if I get the chance to see him on Monday night, I’d even shake his hand and thank him for at least making this rivalry interesting.

I just hope that Mark can convey his sentiments from his blog to everyone else that was highly offended by the comments. I know it was the media stirring the pot on this issue but still, saying that the River walk and San Antonio were filthy was out of line; even for him. It was uncalled for in my book. GO SPURS GO.

BARKLEY IS THE COWARD…NOT KOBE I’m highly disappointed with Charles Barkley. On most nights, Barkley goes off and gives his commentary about what he thinks is wrong with this player or that player and I have never seen him “back up” on a stance. Yet when Kobe Bryant was a guest on the TNT set during the San Antonio Spurs-Dallas Mavericks game, Barkley not only backed up, he retreated completely from a stance in which he called the Laker star a selfish player and almost a bona fide coward for only taking three shots in game seven of the Lakers’ game seven against the Phoenix Suns.

“I criticized Kobe in Game 7. He didn’t like it and he let me know it,” Barkley said. “I think I probably made one mistake by taking it public, but I wanted to get his side and his point of view. I have no problem with him disagreeing with me.”

You know if you want to play sports analyst after your playing days, maybe you should be taking a class on how to hold on to your marble sack when you speak. What Barkley did was akin to what Tom Jackson and Michael Irvin did when Rush Limbaugh decided to play the racial card on the ESPN set a few years ago in regards to Donovan McNabb. You remember that episode in our sports history don’t you? Limbaugh makes outrageous statements but Jackson and Irvin sit there like a couple slugs waiting for a cool winter day. Did they say anything to the poster child of the EIB blow bag of conservative commentary? Of course not. Well Barkley is sitting with those other two because, well, that’s what former jocks turned analysts do; they cower from controversy.

I think Barkley should have stuck to his guns on his statement and he shouldn’t have been afraid of pissing Kobe off with them as well. For example, I have written several pieces claiming that I believe that Barry Bonds is a disgrace to the sport of baseball because of the controversy that he has become a part of. If Bonds or his peeps confronted me, I would not back down from that statement. If they wanted to know why I thought Bonds was a disgrace, I’d tell them my thoughts. I wouldn’t mince words or try to be politically correct. If I made a hasty assessment based off of erroneous information, I’d own up to it but that wouldn’t change my perception of him. In other words, I’d be very real and frank with him. Well the same should be for any jock wanting to be in the media. This political correctness mess needs to halt because it’s killing the product.

Barkley has a right to ‘back down’ from Kobe if he wants to. Personally I think that shows me, as a journalist, why we aren’t taken seriously anymore. Barkley should have stuck to his guns and he should have fired the word bullets necessary to back up his assessment. Whether Charles was right or wrong isn’t the issue. The issue is that Charles needed to man up, sack up and back up why he called Bryant selfish and if he didn’t have anything to substantiate his claim, then he should have never made the comments. But hindsight is always 20/20; especially when you screwed up. I’m sure this won’t be the last time Charles opens his mouth, inserts his foot, and starts sucking on his own toes; metaphorically speaking that is.