Mark Cuban and Skip Bayless went at it Friday morning. (ESPN)
Sunday, Nov 3 at 3:57 PM
In case you haven't heard yet, Mavs owner Mark Cuban popped up on ESPN to lock horns with notoriously over-opininated sports blowhard Skip Bayless.
I am a Mark Cuban apologist. There's little that he can do to sway my generally positive opinion of him. I understand he rubs some people the wrong way, and that David Stern would probably be happy if Cuban were Jimmy Hoffa'ed out of the league forever.
Mark Cuban saved a franchise that in turn, boosted an entire city. He didn't build the American Airlines Center in some far-flung suburb but instead ensured that the Mavs are the biggest "Dallas" team who actually play inside the city, with games accessible by public transportation. That's about as pro-Dallas as it gets, my friends.
Now if Cuban had laid into, say, Bill Simmons or Mark Lisanti or Will Leitch, I might be a little torn. You see, those aforementioned sports writers are people whose work I enjoy reading and, even when I disagree with their opinions, are writers I generally respect the hell out of. Skip Bayless is none of those things. Skip Bayless knows sports, I'll give him that. And that's about all I'll give him.
He's made a living out of having big, hyperbolic opinions which are expressed in such a condescending tone that you sometimes wonder if he resents each and every one of his readers. He, and the equally cantankerous Buzz Bissinger, seem to represent an old guard -- one that presumes their readers to be knuckle-dragging cretins who need to be told in no uncertain terms what to think about any given player or team. It's not so much analysis, as it is some sort of weird, sadistic indoctrination.
The cause of the brouhaha between Cuban and Bayless was when Cuban pointed out that Bayless tends to paint every sports story with the same broad and angry brush. Cuban's point is that championships are won and lost not with slogans or the generally acknowledged perception of any given team by the media, but with boring old strategy, athleticism and play-calling.
I know it's way less sexy to admit that there was no seething melodrama mentally incapacitating LeBron in the fourth quarter of the Finals last year, as much as the Mavs just figured out match ups that would shut him down and keep him out on the perimeter. When Mark Cuban pointed this out, Bayless refused to acknowledge that as a possibility.
And that's when the segment takes a flailing, dramatic leap into Absurd Canyon. When Mark Cuban points out something that needs to be pointed out far more often. Players, generally speaking, don't care what Skip Bayless has to say about them or their game. Never, I repeat never, has LeBron James walked out of the arena with a Charlie Brown-style hung head because he heard Skip Bayless say that he wasn't playing to his potential. Bayless seems incredulous at the mere thought. Skip, I hate to break it to you but, well, he's just not that into you.
Watching the segment, one is left with the opinion that Skip Bayless isn't used to conversing with people who don't immediately kowtow to his totalitarian opinions. Someone's been needing to stand up to Skip for a while and I can't think of anymore more suited for the job than Mark Cuban.