DALLAS (AP) — The NBA fined outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 on Wednesday for comments about tanking during a podcast with Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
Commissioner Adam Silver said the fine was for "public statements detrimental to the NBA." The league said the podcast with Erving was posted Sunday, the day the All-Star game was played in Los Angeles.
Cuban said during the 30-minute interview that he met recently with some of his players and told them "losing is our best option." Cuban was trying to illustrate to Erving how he believes he is a transparent owner.
"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night," Cuban said. "And here we are. We weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option.'
"Adam would hate to be hearing that. But at least I sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans are going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This is like a year and a half of tanking. That was too brutal for me."
The Mavericks dumped veterans Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut around the trading deadline last season and had their highest draft pick (No. 9) since ending up with Dirk Nowitzki from that spot in 1998. They drafted rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., one of the league's rising stars.
After trading veteran guard Devin Harris to Denver at the deadline this season, Dallas (18-40) is tied for the fewest wins in the NBA and among seven teams with 18 or 19 victories at the All-Star break.
Coach Rick Carlisle said he talked to Cuban in "great detail" about the comments Tuesday night and that his owner apologized for them.
"He's embarrassed by it," Carlisle told The Dallas Morning News after the team's first post-All-Star break practice in Los Angeles. "As far as our team, we've played with a lot of fight all year long, and we will continue to do that and that's how we're going to proceed."
Dirk Nowitzki, who has spent all 20 seasons with the Mavericks, took Cuban's comments in stride.
"Players never play to lose," said Nowitzki, the franchise leader in nearly every significant category. "It might happen, but you don't play for it. I still love to compete, that's one big reason why I'm still out there. I'll never stand for losing on purpose. It's just not who I am."
It's the largest NBA fine for the oft-penalized Cuban, surpassing the $500,000 he was docked in 2002 for criticizing former director of officials Ed Rush when he said he wouldn't hire Rush to manage a Dairy Queen. Cuban has been fined more than $2 million, a lot of it for criticizing refs.
"I earned it," Cuban told The Associated Press when asked about the latest fine. "I got excited talking to Dr. J and said something I shouldn't have."
The fine came a day after Cuban's franchise was accused of having a hostile workplace for women in a Sports Illustrated report that detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by former team president Terdema Ussery.
Cuban said he was embarrassed by the allegations and vowed to improve the club's work environment. He is hiring outside counsel to investigate the claims and requiring everyone to undergo sensitivity training, including himself. The NBA has said it will monitor the investigation closely.
The team fired website reporter Earl Sneed, who was twice accused of domestic assault while working for the team. Sneed pleaded guilty over the first incident, and the charge was dismissed after he met conditions of the plea agreement. Cuban told ESPN it was a mistake not to fire Sneed earlier.