The Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, along with a limited fan attendance, stand during the playing of the national anthem before the first half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Cuban jumps ship

So Mark Cuban's ant-anthem stance lasted one day in the light.

Back story: The eccentric billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner had kiboshed the national anthem before home games. He did not announce the change or comment on it, and considering who knows how many reporters have actually covered games in-person this season, it went relatively unnoticed.

When asked about it, Cuban confirmed Tuesday night that the Mavericks were not playing the anthem.

When the NBA caught wind of that, the league confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the Mavericks would be playing the anthem, as the release noted it was a decision in accordance with "longstanding league policy."

We talked about Cuban's decision some Wednesday. So let's discuss the NBA's decision.

I understand it, and more than likely, the league responded to a whole lot of blowback from Cuban's fellow owners.

And the perceptions of this are important. For everyone.

For the league, the importance of uniformity across all franchises must be upheld. If Cuban bags the anthem and endears his franchise to even one free agent, then it's a competitive advantage.Plus, on a lightning rod this supercharged, maybe Cuban has his finger on the pulse of his community and has weighed the risk and rewards of his anthem decision. He certainly has not done that type of market research in Sacramento or Milwaukee or San Antonio.

And, again, in terms of perception, casual sports fans view Cuban's decision as a league move not a team move.

I'm OK either way. Play it or don't. But I completely see the NBA making this a league-wide decision

In truth, I have more of an issue with the decision of playing the national anthem and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the song known as the Black national anthem.    


Sticking to sports

Most mornings I have Get Up on in the background as I bounce around topics and decide what to include and what not to.

I'm curious about something and want your opinion. If you are not comfortable sharing it here, you are welcome to email me.

So, in the first hour of Thursday's Get Up — the Mike Greenberg TV vehicle that has become an NFL-centric panel show that has showcased the talents of Dominique Foxworth and Ryan Clark among others — the only mention of sports news in Dallas was the Cowboys' decision to release an offseason hype video that did not include quarterback Dak Prescott.

I get the 'stick to sports' notion. I don't follow it, clearly, but I understand it. I spent two decades in the sports section, so believe me I get it.
I also understand the sentiment of just wanting to watch a game without social commentary everywhere from jerseys to pregame ceremonies to postgame news conferences.

But when the social stuff crosses the sports world — especially when ESPN broadcasted the Mavericks game last night — shouldn't the world wide leader in sports discuss it?

Or are you done with it and just want Greenie and his cohorts to talk QB carousels and make fun of his whiteness. (And hey, it's not like ESPN can fire me twice, right?)



Combination concerns

We mentioned the declining TV numbers of all events, even the Super Bowl, on Wednesday. We also mentioned the issues facing college basketball heading into what may be the most forgettable NCAA tournament ever.

And I say that as someone until the last decade or so, I would have always ranked the NCAA tournament as my favorite sports event of them all. Better than the Super Bowl. Better than the college football playoff. Better than the Masters. Better than the Johnsonville American Cornhole League championships.

Well, the numbers I saw on social media on Wednesday afternoon may make my concerns for Masked Madness seem underestimated.

Over the weekend, check some of these numbers:

Duke-UNC was down 30% from the first meeting last year; Kentucky-UT down 48%; Arkansas-UK down 43% (compared to the same window last year with LSU-UK).

And one more point.

Duke-UNC, which has routinely been the biggest of big college hoops showdown, got 1.866 million viewers Saturday night oN ESPN proper.

The Puppy Bowl got 2.1 million viewers on Animal Planet on Sunday afternoon.


This and that

— So, library employees are not allowed to burn books they don't like? Hmmmmmm. Makes sense. To everyone ever. Other than Chattanooga activist/attention hound C-Grimey Williams apparently. Side note: We are in a surreal, sue-everyone-over-everything place when it takes more than two months of paid administrative leave for a library employee to get fired for burning books and a city employee destroying property that belongs to the taxpayers. If a casual citizen decided to start burning books, wouldn't that person be arrested?  

— Nice road win for the Lamont Paris and his basketball Mocs on Wednesday night. Here's more from Gene of Many Hats Henley, the TFP's UTC beat ace.

— Gina Carano was dropped from "The Mandolorian" because of social media posts. So there's that.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall with the details of former Tennessee star linebacker Henry To'o To'o looking at other SEC destinations from the transfer portal. Sadly, the front runner has a yell that sounds like "Toll Ride." Because that's what Alabama needs is an All-SEC-level linebacker. Heck, To'o To'o may even crack their starting lineup on special teams. On a serious, scientific note, this would put true teeth into what feels like an overstatement every fall when we ask if there's a player on Team X that could start for Nick Saban's juggernaut. Because To'o To'o was easily the Vols best player, and while position competition comes into play, if Henry can't get on the field in T-Town, no one in Knoxville can.  

— Alex Bowman won the pole for Daytona. Yes, Daytona is this weekend. Maybe because I like the electric third rail of conversation and confrontation, I'd enjoy seeing Kyle Larson win to see what the Monday morning narrative is.

— More NASCAR. Yes, we know J-Mac is far and away the biggest NASCAR newshound around these parts. But the reporting from the Sports Business Journal was interesting. From SBJ's John Ourand, Fox has sold out its ad slots for the 500 this weekend and advertisers are paying "mid-to-high single-digit increase." So there's that.

— So how was your morning? For this lady, who pulled up a chair with Dr. Phil, blew a 0.35 on a morning breathalyzer. Hiccup. Maybe she was hanging with that Koda woman who knocks back some wine in the final hour of Today. Hiccup.

— Heavenly help, maybe? The oldest person in Europe is a 117-year-old nun. She just recovered from her bout with COVID. So there's that. Hey Spy, was she a nice person growing up?

— Did you see the story that there will be a Scooby Do prequel that will focus on Velma? Thoughts?

— JTC passed this along on social media, and it's a funny attempt at an explanation of baseball from someone from another country who has never seen it before.

— Found this interesting. Jason Isbell wrote "Cover Me Up" for Morgan Wallen. Yeah that Morgan Wallen, who was caught using the Queen mother of all racial slurs on video and has since had his music pulled from country stations and suspended from his recording label. Also, whether it's because Wallen's no longer on the radio or because of the division and angst in our country, Wallen's songs have been in high demand online and in streaming services. This brings me back to Isbell, who gets a cut as a writer on Wallen's new album, announced this week that he will donate all of the money he makes on Wallen's success to the Nashville NAACP.


Today's questions

We asked a big picture question above. Fire away.
Also, gang, thanks so much for the give and take around these parts. It makes for an informative and entertaining exchange. At least it does for me. We don't all agree on everything but we can all agree to be civil and decent.

Which cartoon prequel would you like to see?

Did the NBA make the right call in terms of Mark Cuban and the anthem?
Side question: You in for Clarice, the CBS prequel before Jodie Foster's award-winning FBI agent crossed paths with Hannibal Lector, tonight?

And gang, remember the mailbag.

As for today, Feb. 11, let's review.  
Wow, on this day in 1990, Buster Douglas pulled off the upset of all upsets.

Burt Reynolds would have been 85. Leslie Nielsen would have been would have been 95.

Rushmore of Airplane! quotes. Go.

And yes the mailbag.