A column depicting race as a reason the NBA's popularity is not where it once was has sparked a heated war of words between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger.
The fight took place for all to see on the popular social networking site Twitter.com and apparently will culminate in a meeting between the two at Tuesday night's Mavericks-76ers game in Philadelphia.
Cuban, apparently objecting to Bissinger's Feb. 17 column on TheDailyBeast.com, Sunday tweeted the following: "Buzz Bissinger is a coward"
Bissinger took exception to Cuban's statement and the two exchanged messages on the site for approximately four hours. Bissinger's messages included many profanity laced tweets directed at Cuban.
"He's a very smart guy. I respect him," Bissinger told the Ben & Skin Show on 103.3 FM in Dallas on Tuesday. "Did I go off on him: Yes. Because I was upset and I didn't like what he said. ... So we'll see what happens."
Bissinger, the author of "Friday Night Lights," said he doesn't know exactly what Cuban objected to but hopes to find out when they meet.
"All I know is I got an e-mail from someone else I know on Twitter that said Cuban just called you a coward," Bissinger said. "That's all he said: 'Buzz Bissinger is a coward.' I don't know why. I don't like being called a coward, but I can tell you this: People may have thought the column was ridiculous, crazy, full of BS and wrong. But it definitely wasn't cowardly to write it.
"The point of a column to me is, 'Do you believe it.' I do believe it. And if it provokes real debate, that's fine. Mark Cuban is an owner. He's much closer to the ground in the NBA than I am. If he wants to say that column was wrong, that column was full of BS, you don't know what you're talking about ... that's fine. I would argue that I do and the column was legitimate, but to call me a coward out of thin air is not something I like."
Cuban, reached by ESPNDallas.com via e-mail on Monday, declined to comment on the situation.
In his column, Bissinger writes, "It boils down to this: Are whites losing interest in a game in which the number of white American players not only continues to dwindle, but no longer features a superstar? Yes."
Bissinger said he doesn't want to "square off" in his meeting with Cuban and instead hopes for the two to discuss Cuban's objections and gain some perspective.
"I'm not looking for this to be the Thrilla in Manila. I'm hoping we talk," Bissinger said. "I'm not going to sit here and say, 'I know the game better than Mark.' That's ridiculous. He is an owner. He can be incredibly obnoxious and spoiled, but he's also very smart. ... I'm there to listen, but if he starts calling me names then it's going to degenerate into nothing.
"I will listen. I don't want it to become a square-off where we're screaming at each other in some ridiculous dog-and-pony show. I don't like being called a coward. You can call me ignorant, call me stupid, but don't call me a coward."