DALLAS -- Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ unofficial boo leader, didn’t hesitate to highly recommend that fellow MFFLs loudly direct their wrath at Derek Fisher on Sunday.
What about Deron Williams tonight?
Cuban is keeping his mouth shut on that one. Or he at least didn’t reply to an email inquiring about the subject. And he intentionally avoided making the trip to Brooklyn to see the Mavs play the Nets at the beginning of the month because, he explained, “I don’t need to be on the back page of the New York Post.”
That’s probably wise. No need for Cuban to give an opposing star any additional, fresh motivational fodder. (That worked out so well with Kobe Bryant, huh?)
Besides, Williams doesn’t deserve to be booed during his annual trip to the American Airlines Center, an arena the native of nearby The Colony described last year as his favorite in the NBA.
Unlike full-of-it quitter Fisher, Williams didn’t do the Mavs wrong. He just politely and professionally declined their halfhearted recruiting pitch and decided to move to Brooklyn with the Nets.
You can debate whether Williams made the right decision. You can argue that he’d have been better off as the centerpiece of a two-year rebuilding plan in Dallas instead of being stuck on a roster with bloated contracts in Brooklyn, which will be handcuffed by the CBA in its attempts to make the upgrades necessary to become a legitimate contender.
Cuban could have made those points in a face-to-face meeting with Williams in July, but he opted to have Michael Finley join Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle as the point men for the most important free-agency pitch in franchise history. Filming "Shark Tank" on the West Coast was Cuban’s priority, hence the halfhearted recruiting pitch.
If you’re still upset about Williams not coming home this past summer, boo Cuban, not the point guard.
Cuban is the one who has said that he didn’t really want Williams anyway -- and the whole "Shark Tank" deal seems to support that statement. (Cuban, who has taken some reality=show-related heat from Dirk Nowitzki, has vowed to keep his schedule clear for the first two weeks of July this summer.)
It was only after Cuban declared that he believed the Mavs were “better off” without him that Williams fired back, telling New York reporters that he might have signed with the Mavs if Cuban had only made the effort of meeting with him and answering his questions. That back-and-forth fizzled out quickly, and nobody else with the Mavs has any ill will toward Williams, whose concerns about being left to carry the Mavs by himself if Nowitzki went down seemed pretty prescient in the first two months of the season.
“He’s still a friend of mine,” Nowitzki said before the Mavs’ trip to Brooklyn. “Obviously, he didn’t come join us, but I wished him luck then.”
For the Mavs’ wish for a win to come true, they’ll probably need to contain Williams, who struggled through his own health issues for the first half of the season but is suddenly performing like an elite point guard again, averaging an efficient 23.4 points and 7.7 assists since the All-Star break.
No need for the AAC crowd to add any fuel to Williams’ fire with boos that would just make Mavs fans look bitter.
Better to save your venom for a deserving target. On a related note, Lamar Odom comes to town next week.