Mark Cuban traveled with his Mavericks to New York to see them take on a struggling Knicks team at Madison Square Garden on Monday, and as he often does in major media markets, he met with reporters briefly before the game to discuss the news of the day.
In this case, the story of Jason Collins being signed to a 10-day contract by the Nets and becoming the first openly gay active professional athlete to play in one of the four major sports leagues is what’s dominated NBA headlines for the last 24 hours.
Cuban, however, didn’t seem to see what all the fuss was about.
“I think it’s no big deal and that’s exactly the way it should be,” Cuban said before the Mavericks played the reeling Knicks at MSG. “He’s been playing in the league forever. The guy’s known. As long as they get their ass kicked in the playoffs, that’s all I care about.”
On the Collins phenomenon, Cuban continued, “At some point it becomes something to talk about, and now there’s nothing to talk about. Moving on.” …
“That’s just the way it works,” Cuban said. “It was [a big deal] until it isn’t, and now it’s not. Next. Nothing more to talk about. I mean, I don’t give a [expletive] about a guy’s sexuality. Period, end of story.”
Cuban’s comments come off as dismissive in print, but you can see what he was getting at.
It’s a huge step forward for an openly gay athlete to be accepted into what has traditionally been an overly-aggressive culture in professional sports that has, on the surface, seemed less than tolerant of different lifestyles.
Cuban was trying perhaps a bit too hard to prove a point that this shouldn’t be such a hot topic for discussion, and maybe the next time the NBA finds one of its athletes in the same situation, it won’t be. But it’s a bit disingenuous to pretend that the Collins signing isn’t a “big deal,” because it is — and it’s something worth celebrating.