ESPN's Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon have had their media credentials revoked by the Dallas Mavericks for the 2016-17 season.
Tim Cato of SB Nation first reported the news Sunday, adding the reported reasoning for the organization's decision:
Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reported Stein and MacMahon didn't receive credentials for the team's Friday and Sunday home games. On Monday, Art Garcia of the Star-Telegram reported the blackout extends to all ESPN.com reporters.
Deitsch provided a comment from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:
Cuban also told Sam Amick of USA Today he "won't go into details yet, but it has nothing to do with editorial. It's a much bigger issue. ESPN can write whatever they want, just like always. This has nothing to do with what we did."
He would later further explain his reasoning to the Associated Press, stating that the decision was made to bring attention to the usage of automation in sports coverage:
Maybe I will be wrong but I see a direct path from the trends in coverage of games we are seeing over the last couple years to the automation of reporting on games and the curation of related content. This isn't a knock on wire services or their reporters. They are valued and valuable in sports coverage. ...
While it may seem counterintuitive to ban someone from covering us as a way of stopping automation, it really was my only option. As is evident by the AP partnership with Automated Insights, it's not if but when.
ESPN responded to the issue in a statement saying, "We're committed to thoroughly covering the Mavs and the NBA," per Deitsch.
On Tuesday, Stein and MacMahon issued a joint statement regarding the Mavericks' decision, via ESPN MediaZone:
We want to thank our colleagues throughout the media and the NBA, fellow Professional Basketball Writers Association members and, most of all, ESPN readers and viewers who have offered such tremendous support over the past few days.
The circumstances that led the Mavericks to deny us entry to their home games remain very difficult to understand, given that the NBA has always been one of the most media-friendly leagues in the world. Yet we’re hopeful that a resolution is near.
Until then, nothing about the objective and aggressive manner in which we cover the league and its teams will change.
The Professional Basketball Writers Association had released a statement in regard to the situation on Monday:
We are deeply troubled by the Dallas Mavericks’ move to revoke the credentials of two respected, longtime NBA journalists. The Mavericks’ move is without merit. We call on the Mavericks to reverse their decision or for NBA officials to intervene to allow [MacMahon and Stein] to continue their work.
MacMahon has been an ESPN Dallas writer since 2009, covering both the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks. Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. He also worked as a Mavericks beat writer for the Dallas Morning News before joining ESPN.
Former Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons voiced his short opinion:
MacMahon interviewed Parsons in July after the Mavericks made little effort to keep him as a free agent.