Fay Vincent tries to rain on Mavericks' parade

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban shouts to an official in the second half of Game 3 of the Mavericks' first-round playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers April 21, 2011, in Portland, Ore.
CBS/Getty Images
Fay Vincent & Mark Cuban
Former MLB commissioner Fay Vincent, left, is not a fan of "ungentlemanly" Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
CBS/Getty Images

As the Dallas Mavericks paraded through the streets of their city in a ceremony paid for by their owner, Mark Cuban, one supposed bastion of sports stood by and hissed.

No, not LeBron James. Fay Vincent.

Should you not remember Vincent, he was once the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Once.

Still, he would like everyone to know that he still represents everything that is good and fine and wonderful in sports. And that Mark Cuban does not.

Here is a sample of Vincent's wisdom from the ESPN radio show "The Herd."

"I went through the Steinbrenner business. Some of the behavior of owners can be very troublesome for commissioners. I don't think Mr. Cuban's been an easy partner or owner for David Stern, and that would put me on my guard if he were to come to baseball," said Vincent.

You might think from these words that the one criterion for ownership of a major sports franchise is being an easy partner for the commissioner.

You might think incorrectly. Because, according to Vincent, you must also have deep within you the philosophy of an 18th century Englishman.

He said: "I think it's more important for owners to be gentlemen, play by the rules, respect the authorities, do what's good for the sport, than it is to manage his franchise into total success."

Some might ponder just how well this alleged gentlemanliness has served sports in general and baseball in particular.

Perhaps it was gentlemanliness that prevented baseball owners from attempting to do something material about steroids in the 90s. Perhaps, too, it is gentlemanliness that is preventing NFL owners from reaching a measured agreement with the players.

Sometimes, people just don't appreciate how reasonable sports franchise owners truly are. Which, presumably, makes these owners so cross that they have to lock out players and threaten the very existence of the season.

Which, it seems, might just happen with the NBA next season.

You might be wondering just why Cuban is regarded by Vincent as being the Second Coming of Heinousness.

Well, it seems to have something to do with opening his mouth and saying what he thinks. This is one of the most ungentlemanly traits that anyone could espouse.

"The rules are the rules. I think this enormous criticism -- the screaming about officials, the kinds of things that got him fined by David -- those are not actions of a sensible, responsible owner," Vincent declared.

But Cuban committed another disgraceful, shameful sin that should have seen him barred not merely from owning a sports franchise but, perhaps, from every bar in America.

"I mean winning is not everything, and I'm afraid for some of these owners they get so carried away with winning they believe that's the objective," explained the Gentleman Vincent.

Perhaps it's worth examining how carried away Cuban managed to get.

He was so carried away, coming from a slightly more modern business sector called tech, that he decided one of the essences of managing your sports franchise involved treating your players rather well.

He continued his besmirchment of the gentlemen's club of ownership by offering business advice such as this: "I'm always sufficiently scared of failing that I make sure I've reduced my risk through preparation. Most people think money is the key to reducing risk. Preparation is."

Surely that sort of stuff deserved at least a fine from NBA Commissioner David Stern. Cuban said it in 2004.

Worse, Cuban showed the worst sort of ungentlemanliness when it came to the hiring and firing of coaches. In eleven years, he's had just three of them. What could be more offensive, more insensitive, more threatening than that?

But it doesn't stop there. He's done disgraceful, unconscionable things such as thinking about the fans--once, notably, when he wandered into an arena bar and slapped down $2000 for drinks after a win.

And then there was that shameful episode when he appeared on "Dancing with the Stars" and made every slightly nerdy little man believe that he could actually get a girl. Goodness, he paved the way for another bastion of ungentlemanliness, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, to appear on the same show.

They say that Cuban likes to get his own way and screams when he doesn't.

They always remind you of how he said that the NBA's manager of officials, Ed T. Rush, couldn't manage a Dairy Queen.

But this is a man who actually complains about the right things, even when he's not always right.

This is a man who encountered pleasing humiliation and just carried right on. Who could forget enjoying the Mavericks lose in the first round of the 2007 playoffs to the Golden State Warriors?

Did he take it like a gentleman? Well, it depends on your definition of gentleman. But did he simply try and make his franchise better? Did anyone think he had actually made his franchise better by sticking with Dirk Nowitzki and trading for Jason Kidd and Jason Terry?

Fay Vincent was such a gentleman that, well, he doesn't seem to have been a vast success when he was commissioner of the Gentleman's Club of Baseball.

He somehow managed to alienate, in his short time there, owners in both the AL and the NL. The Cubs' ownership actually sued him in 1992 after he tried to move the team to the National League West.

When you listen to him speaking down his nose at Cuban, you wonder that Vincent, in his pre-commissioner life, must have been a captain of some old industry or, at the very least, a steadying influence on Wall Street.

He was an entertainment lawyer.

How odd, then, that he cannot see nor accept just how much entertainment Mark Cuban has brought to players, fans and even, one suspects, some insiders at the NBA.

Mark Cuban paid for today's victory parade out of his own pocket. What a disgraceful, ungentlemanly thing to do. He should certainly be stopped from owning an MLB franchise.

Just think of the terrible things he might have done to a winning franchise such as the Chicago Cubs.

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.