Mark Cuban laments refs' disregard for emphasis on three-second violations

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Thursday, December 10, 2015

DALLAS -- Owner Mark Cuban made a point to complain about what he considers an NBA officiating trend after his Dallas Mavericks lost 98-95 to the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

Cuban expressed concern that referees are ignoring a league emphasis to call defensive three-second violations.

"I know it's not the league, so somewhere along the line, officials have chosen not to call defensive three seconds," Cuban said, addressing reporters in the middle of the locker room after the game, a rarity for him. "You guys can probably hear us counting, right? Five, six, seven. ...We've had games, multiple games already -- the last one we turned in, the league agreed that they missed nine defensive-three calls. And these aren't, 'OK, it's 3.1, it's 3.2 and it's wrong.' These are six, seven, eight and, in one case, nine seconds of standing in there. Again, you probably heard us screaming and yelling from the bench and counting to five and six.

"It's not a tough rule. I don't know what's happened, but it's changed the game," Cuban said. "We've even started to tell our guys, 'Just stand in the paint and don't move,' but some teams have figured it out before us. So it's just wrong."

Cuban spoke with a calm, measured tone during his five-minute postgame session with the media, which started when he walked into the middle of the locker room before players arrived and told reporters he had something he wanted to address.

"Again, I don't know who came up with the decision," he said. "The league just sent out a memo that defensive three was an emphasis, so I don't think it came from the league. Somewhere underneath them, the decision has been made, I don't know by who, not to call defensive three."

According to the website, which tracks all violations, 133 defensive three-second violations have been called this season, which is slightly past the quarter point. There were 493 defensive three-second violations last season.

Dallas shot 36 percent from the floor in the loss to the Hawks, but Cuban said his complaints weren't specific to this loss.

"We were just missing shots," Cuban said. "This is not relevant to the game today. This is a bigger issue, right? Whether it impacts us or it impacts someone else, here I am saying that we're telling our guys just to camp in the paint, so it's not about this game or any other game. This is just one more example. Something happened.

"Something's going on, and I have no idea what it is. When I ask the league, they say, 'Oh, there's nothing going on. They're just missed.' Something's going on. Something's happening, and I don't think it's at the league level, but officials have chosen not to call defensive three seconds and, in some cases, offensive three seconds."

Cuban has been fined several times for complaining about officiating during his 16-season ownership tenure, paying well into seven figures for those infractions. However, he has chosen his spots more carefully in recent years.

Since Adam Silver has been commissioner, the only fine publicly announced for Cuban was for discussing free-agency moves in several interviews during the league's moratorium period in July.

"The rule is not a difficult rule," Cuban said. "Either you're in there and actively guarding, or you're not. It's not hard to see. It was crazy. ... So something's going on. It's not relevant specifically to the Mavs. It's relevant specifically to the league and how it's being officiated. And I have no idea, so as is my nature, if I can't get answers, I'll let other people help me get answers."