The shot itself was dramatic enough, but it was the circumstances leading up to, and those immediately after, which will mar what should have been an astounding finish to an instant classic.
Before Anthony took the shot, Mavs swingman Antoine Wright attempted to commit an intentional foul twice to send Anthony to the free-throw line.
Had the foul been called correctly, the worst-case scenario would have been a trip to the free-throw line for Anthony with a chance to sink two free throws to force overtime. With Anthony only a 79 percent free throw shooter, making both shots was not a given. Instead, Anthony drains the shot, and the Nuggets win the game.
The next day, the NBA was forced to admit the refs had missed the call. Per ESPN, "At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's three-point basket," Joel Litvin, NBA president of league and basketball operations, said in a statement issued by the league about two hours after the game.
While it’s refreshing to hear the NBA admit that its officials were wrong, at the same time, there should be no way a playoff game is allowed to be decided on a call that, admittedly, should have been made.
With that being said, the actions of Mavericks fans and especially of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are inexcusable.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love Mark Cuban. If all team owners were as engaged and passionate about their teams as Cuban was, sports would be a lot more entertaining.
Despite that, Cuban was party to a verbal altercation with Lydia Moore (the mother of Cincinnati alum Kenyon Martin) that never should have happened.
There are several accounts of how the altercation took place. According to Cuban, a fan called the Nuggets "thugs" and he looked at Moore and said, "That includes your son." However, Martin's agent told The Denver Post that Cuban said, "Your son is a punk."
Martin, to his credit, was not willing to have a smear-fest with Cuban though the media. "It's a little personal, and I'm going to take care of it," he said, according to CBS Sports. "I'm not going to do the whole media thing, back and forth. That's his thing. I'm more of a face-to-face type of dude."
Had Cuban said this to a player, a coach, or even another owner, it wouldn't have registered a blip on the media radar. Cuban is known for his wild statements to the media from things ranging from players on his own teams, officials and even NBA Commissioner David Stern.
However, with Cuban being in a place of power, he should never have brought a player’s mother into the debate. Mrs. Moore has no control over how the Nuggets play, and as a private figure, she should not have had to suffer the terrible consequences that were bestowed upon her during Game Four, when she was doused with alcohol and forced to leave the game for fear of her own safety.
To Cuban’s credit, he has apologized: “So at this point I would like to apologize to you and your mom KMart for my comment. I should have not said anything and I was wrong. Hopefully you will accept the apology and we can move on. When the series comes back to Dallas, your family, and the family of other Nuggets players are welcome to stay in my suite, with my family. It's amazing how tempers mellow when real people talk to each other and realize that it’s still just a game. If that isn’t acceptable, I’m happy to provide a suite, free of charge to them as well and place whatever security is needed to make them feel comfortable. We tried to have enough additional security for them tonight as well, but I know your family and friends didn’t feel as comfortable as they should. I apologize for that as well. This arena is my responsibility, we could and should do a better job. So if we can put this behind us, I will make sure when the series comes back to Dallas, your family and friends, and that of your teammates are very comfortable at our Arena. Then I hope we both take the advice of your coach and can get together this summer. Dinner for you and your family is on me.” (To read the full context of Cuban’s post, visit his blog at BlogMaverick.com)
With all the excitement that goes into the NBA playoffs, emotions run high and unfortunately, ugly incidents like this can, and will, happen.
However, as an NBA owner, it’s Cuban’s job to find ways to defuse things like this from happening, not for him to be the catalyst.
Cuban is good for the NBA and for the Mavericks, as well. Let’s hope he keeps it in check a little more from here on out.