Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Martin questions Cuban's apology
By Marc Stein ESPN.com
DENVER -- Kenyon Martin didn't specify whether he will accept an apology from Mark Cuban, but he did say before Wednesday's Game 5 in this heated second-round series between the Nuggets and Mavericks that he doesn't think the Dallas owner's online remorse was "sincere."
Speaking to a group of three Denver-based writers after the Nuggets' morning shootaround, Martin said: "I don't think he was sincere, to be honest. I don't think it was a sincere apology."
Martin and Nuggets teammate Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday questioned Cuban for apologizing to Martin's mother on his blog (blogmaverick.com) in the early hours of Tuesday morning instead of doing so face-to-face after the Mavericks avoided a series sweep with a 119-117 victory in Game 4. In the blog post, Cuban apologized for a remark he made after Game 3 to Martin's Dallas-based mother, Lydia Moore, as well as tensions in the stands at American Airlines Center involving family members of Nuggets players that Cuban acknowledged had "gotten out of hand."
"It wasn't the right decision on his behalf," Martin said of the written apology.
As he revealed before Dallas' Game 4 win, Cuban will not be attending Game 5 in Denver to attend Wednesday's CLIO Awards in Las Vegas, where he is scheduled to receive an honorary award for his contributions to the advertising industry.
"Believe me, I'm not going to miss Cuban," Anthony said, smiling.
The Nuggets, though, have nonetheless planned for an increased security presence near the Mavericks' bench. Specifics are being withheld by the teams and the league office, as per NBA policy on security matters, but sources in Denver confirmed that the Mavericks will receive added protection after the heated nature of the two games in Dallas and incidents during the Nuggets' first-round series with New Orleans. Hornets guard Chris Paul was reportedly hit in the face with a towel and when a bottle was thrown at the Hornets' bench in another game.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, tried to move past the emotions that linger from Game 4 at Wednesday's shootaround. After video surfaced Tuesday of Anthony's wife, La La Vasquez, gesticulating with a security guard and being led away from her seat near Moore to watch the rest of Game 4 from the safety of a suite, Vasquez issued a statement accusing Mavericks fans of racially abusing her.
"Obviously the playoffs games bring out the best and the worst in fans but what happened on Monday night with the racial slurs/threats, verbal attacks on my son and physical attacks to myself by irate fans was unacceptable," Vasquez said in a statement. "The fans were totally out of control. What the [television] cameras captured was me defending myself and didn't show the abuse that was taking place."
Anthony reacted Wednesday morning.
"It is bothersome?" he said. "Anything having to do with your family, yeah, that's going to bother you a little bit. But as long as my family's all right, Kenyon's family is OK, everybody's family on the Denver Nuggets is OK, [we're] fine.
"I think [Vasquez] did the right thing by releasing a statement and telling her side of the story, because all they saw [on the video] is what she did. But that's neither here nor there. That's over with. We've got a [series] to go close out tonight."
Back in Dallas, ESPN Radio (103.3 FM) and The Dallas Morning News quoted a Mavericks season-ticket holder identified only as "Peggy" as saying that fans seated near Vasquez did not initiate the confrontation or use any racial slurs.
After Game 3, Cuban says he walked past Moore and told her "that includes your son" after hearing a fan nearby say that the Nuggets are "thugs." Brian Dyke, Martin's agent, later told The Denver Post that Cuban told Moore, "Your son is a punk."
As part of his online apology, Cuban has offered Martin's family and other members of the Nuggets' traveling party the opportunity to watch Game 6 from his suite or another suite of their choosing, provided that the Mavericks can take the series that far.
2009 NBA Playoffs
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"When tempers and such start impacting the fan experience both in Dallas and Denver, and it requires special security, that's not what I want for Mavs or Nuggets fans," Cuban wrote in his blog. "No one takes more abuse and gets more threats on the road than I do. So I know exactly how it feels. I've also had my family and friends spit on at games in this series. So I know how unpleasant that is as well.
"... We tried to have enough additional security for them [for Game 4] as well, but I know your family and friends didn't feel as comfortable as they should. I apologize for that as well. This arena is my responsibility. We could and should do a better job."
In an e-mail sent Tuesday to the Fox television affiliate in Dallas, Cuban said: "We have great fans, but all it takes is a few people to ruin it for everyone, [so] we wanted to be proactive."
Asked if the fact that he grew up in Dallas made Monday's events in the stands more troubling, Martin said: "Not at all. No bad experience. Nobody got hurt. Nobody went to jail. Nobody died. We won a game and lost a game. So we'll come here and close this thing out tonight."
The NBA elected to take no action against Cuban for his interactions with Martin's mother and a local TV cameraman or the fact that Mavericks swingman Josh Howard had to be restrained from confronting referee Mark Wunderlich. The league also announced that the referees made an error by not calling a foul on Dallas' Antoine Wright at the end of Game 3 that helped Denver secure a 106-105 win and a 3-0 series lead.
The league office likewise took no action against Martin for his stormy departure from the floor after Game 4, when he was caught on camera yelling in Cuban's direction.
"Matter is closed," league spokesman Tim Frank told The Associated Press via e-mail Wednesday before Game 5 tipped off in Denver.
NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson ruled Tuesday that Anthony's open-handed push to dislodge himself from a second-quarter tangle with Wright in Game 4 would not be subject to further punishment. The league also downgraded a Game 4 flagrant foul assessed against the Mavericks' Jason Terry to a personal foul.
"Mark has apologized on his blog and he will be reaching out to Kenyon personally," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Tuesday. "We are confident that this will be brought to an intelligent close with an adult conversation."
Said Anthony on Wednesday: "Man to man. That's [always how] you should do stuff. You should approach anything man to man. But he did it. It's over with. We got no choice but to accept his apology."
Asked what he made of Cuban's behavior, Anthony said, "That's just the way Mark Cuban is. It's not the first time he did something like that. He's been like that since he became an owner. You can't knock him for that. He's rooting for his team, he's cheering for his team. What he did was unacceptable, but that's neither here nor there."
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki was expecting an intense environment for Game 5.
"I think the fans were pretty hostile here in Game 1 and Game 2, so I don't know what more can happen or how [much] louder they can get," he said. "But we've got to be ready for a battle. I think in Game 1 and Game 2, we lost both in the fourth quarter, so we've got to be ready for when they turn the pressure on in the fourth quarter."
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.