RIO DE JANEIRO -- Mark Cuban has been opposed to NBA players competing in the Olympics, but the Dallas Mavericks owner gave Andrew Bogut the clearance he needed to play for Australia after injuring his left knee in the NBA Finals.
And Cuban is pulling for his new center, who scored 18 points to lead the Aussies to an 87-66 victory over France on Saturday in the opening game of the tournament.
"We obviously were nervous and I'm still not a fan of NBA players in the Olympics, but Andrew was going to have to go through a process to get back on the court anyway," Cuban wrote Sunday in an email to The Associated Press. "Our staff has communicated with him and we knew he would be cautious in his approach to returning."
Bogut sustained bone bruises in Game 5 while playing for Golden State. Players need a release from their NBA teams to compete internationally if they have a pre-existing injury, and Bogut said he was a little worried he might not get it from the Mavs, who acquired him last month in a trade.
But he said Cuban and the team have been "first class" in their dealings with him.
"They were very, very nervous obviously because my prognosis was six to eight weeks and this is right on six weeks right now, but I was open with them and honest," Bogut said. "I said, 'Look, if I know I'm not ready and the knee's swelling up, I'm pulling the pin.' And they said fine, we trust you."
Bogut said he even received an email from Cuban before the Olympic opener.
"I told him make sure he has his green and gold jersey on watching the game and he threw a couple of other words I can't repeat and said let's go," Bogut said. "So it's been a good relationship by email so far."
Cuban is on a family vacation and doesn't have one with him, but plans to don a rugby jersey in support when he returns.
"But with or without it, I'll be watching and cheering him on," Cuban said.
Mark Cuban a critic of NBA players in Olympics but backs Andrew Bogut
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