Mark Cuban irked by NBA's scheduling

Updated: January 5, 2012, 3:20 AM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- The NBA didn't do it so Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took scheduling the traditional championship trip to the White House into his own hands.

The Mavs will visit President Barack Obama next Monday prior to a two-game road trip at Detroit and Boston. Cuban said he was appalled when the NBA released the condensed, 66-game schedule after the lockout and a trip to play the Washington Wizards was not on the schedule.

Cuban said he didn't bother to call the league to complain, but rather asked team CEO Terdema Ussery to call the White House.

Cuban I figured I'd do it myself since the league wasn't smart enough to figure it out. How can you be that stupid? All you've got to do is when you're putting in the scheduling software, say Dallas at Washington, yes.

-- Mavs owner Mark Cuban

"There's no point in calling them. It's bull---- by the league not to schedule it," Cuban said. "I figured I'd do it myself since the league wasn't smart enough to figure it out. How can you be that stupid? All you've got to do is when you're putting in the scheduling software, say Dallas at Washington, yes. They managed to get Dallas and Miami and all the games set on certain days."

The league, however, tells a bit of a different story about how Monday's visit came to be arranged. Tim Frank, the NBA's senior vice president for basketball communications, said the league learned of the president's availability and worked with the Mavs to make it happen.

"Our jurisdiction doesn't extend to scheduling the president, and scheduling the Mavericks against the Wizards would have been no guarantee that the president would be in town and available," Frank said. "We learned that he would be available on Jan. 9 and began working with the Mavericks to accommodate that availability and the Mavericks' schedule. Fortunately, we were able to make it work."

Cuban insisted Tuesday the league still messed up by not giving the champions a game in Washington.

"It doesn't change the fact that they didn't (schedule) a game in DC for us," Cuban wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Given the compressed schedule it should have been more of a priority because they knew better than any of us how few days off we would have to do something."

Champions in each of the four major American sports leagues make an annual trip to visit the President at the White House. Those trips are typically arranged when the defending champion plays in or around the Washington D.C. area.

But when the NBA released its revised 66-game schedule after the lockout, the league did not have the Mavs visiting the Wizards, who, ironically, will play in Dallas on March 13.

Dallas had a preseason game at the Wizards and its traditional lone stop in Washington during the regular season wiped out by the lockout.

The Mavs will play the New Orleans Hornets at home on Saturday and fly to Washington D.C. on Sunday for their Monday visit to the White House. Then they'll head to Detroit for a game against the Pistons on Tuesday and then to Boston to face the Celtics on Wednesday.

Cuban said the roundabout itinerary will be an experience well worth it for his players.

"It's a great tradition and a unique opportunity," Cuban said.

Jason Terry, the longest-tenured Mavs player other than Dirk Nowitzki, said paying a visit to the first African-American president, who also plays basketball, will take on extra meaning.

"It'll be a fun experience. I've been there before, but not for this president, the first black president," said Terry, who made a visit with the NCAA champion Arizona Wildcats in 1997. "It's a great experience when you get the honor and privilege to go to the White House. It's a tribute to what we were able to accomplish. It's definitely going to be fun."

Lamar Odom, who has twice visited the White House with the Los Angeles Lakers said the trip is the icing on the championship season.

"It's definitely something the team will not forget," Odom said.

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.