Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin, Still Trying to Find the High Road

May, 18, 2009
5/18/09
5:31
PM ET

Look, I know, I do it too. In the heat of the moment, any one of us might say something childish that we regret. There's a little playground, I suspect, in just about everyone who loves sports.

But that's it. A bad moment. Then you apologize, and move on like an adult.

The key thing is that you want all parties, including yourself, to preserve dignity. 

On the other hand, if you don't let it drop, at some point, everyone just looks childish.

For instance, thanks to the reporting of Chris Tomasson on Hoopshype, here's the latest from the playground spat between Kenyon Martin on Mark Cuban.

Martin:

"He's a coward. He couldn't face it ..."

Cuban: 

"Will he apologize to the wife of our staff member that he called a '(expletive) fat pig' immediately after Game 3? Will he apologize to fans that he threatened to, and I'm paraphrasing here, '(expletive) beat the (expletive) down' during Game 4? Or to the fans he walked by after Game 4, (Martin) cursed and gave the finger to? Will he take responsibility for what he said and did? Is there some reason he has not?"

Martin:

"Me and my mom ain't going to lose no sleep if we don't talk to Mark Cuban. We're going to lay our head down and sleep well every night. I'm still playing right now. (Cuban's) got time to think about all that. I got games to win right now. So give (Cuban) time to think about (what he might do)."

Boys!

In general, in life, if you go looking for trouble, you will find it. So long as Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin both want to find the flaws in each other's behavior, they will never be disappointed. With each instance of finding more flaws, one or the other will be proved righter and righter. And they can carry that pride and righteousness to their graves.

Or, they can embrace one of the essential lessons of education and history, which is that feuding is stupid and leads to a society not unlike the Middle Ages. People tend to be much happier, and have better lives, when they make it their business not to find ways to not like each other, but instead find ways to work together.

(This is a conversation I had recently with a five-year-old.)

Cuban started this whole thing by needlessly dragging Kenyon Martin's mom into a conversation about players being violent.

Did you see that video of Kenyon Martin the other day? It's on YouTube. After a game, he screamed at Mark Cuban, on camera, calling him a f----- (derogatory word for a homosexual) m----------- (you figure it out).

This is not something you get to say in 2009. It's depraved, and it's wrong. And in case you didn't get or didn't believe the memo: The idea that homosexuality is a generic put-down ended with eighth grade graduation. 

But look around the sports media, and oddly nobody said anything about it. Martin got more or less a free pass on that. 

What does that tell you? 

To me it is a powerful sign that people expected poor behavior from him anyway. Oh, one of the most famously cranky and overheated athletes said something really stupid and aggressive? That is very dog bites man. Opinions of Kenyon Martin were low enough, to begin with, that nobody muster the energy to act surprised that Martin went there.

But then here comes Mark Cuban! Rushing to Martin's rescue.

He's not the only one who can act like a fool! I am Mark, and I am rash, petty and angry too!

Cuban showed he knows what good adult behavior is by saying all the right things on his blog, but even Cuban himself is now admitting he made a mistake with a public apology that wasn't paired with a fig leaf extended in private. Which tells us it's not just a case of losing his mind for a minute. It was a case of taking the time to know the right thing to do, and then just not doing it properly.

We all do these things. But eventually, it's tiring to throw tantrums. It's tiring be treated like a child. It's tiring to lack credibility. It's tiring to act like a fool and, even more tiring to realize that nobody gets surprised when you do.

I can't believe Mark Cuban and Kenyon Martin aren't tired of this already. But I suspect they're close to exhaustion. Anyone know a good lullaby? When kids get this cranky, a nap is usually a good idea.

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