Mark Cuban has seemed to be a great ally of the LGBT community over the years, even saying that the first out pro athlete in North America would make a boatload of cash. But there's still a little uneasiness in Cuban that came out during a podcast with Bill Simmons at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference last weekend. Cuban isn't a big fan of Simmons apparently, saying he wishes Simmons owned an NBA team so he could crush him a couple times a year. Then, from the Boston Phoenix, came this:
The atmosphere turned even weirder when Cuban began telling the story of how he'd almost fired a Mavs employee for encouraging Dallas fans to do the wave. Cuban hates the wave. "I'd rather have 60 minutes of Kiss Cam," he said, to laughs. Simmons has long been on record as being a fan of the Kiss Cam -- he's even jokingly suggested that it become its own TV show -- and piped up in favor of it. "I like the Kiss Cam," Simmons said.
"That's because you and your boyfriend are always on it," Cuban spat. He quickly tried to backtrack, mumbling something about what he'd just said not being a gender-specific remark. Except, as Yahoo!'s Ball Don't Lie blog quickly tweeted, that it was clearly a very gender specific remark.
As I always do with these "incidents," I measure it against what I would do. Would I try to demean another man by saying he has a boyfriend? Heck no! But Cuban went there. To him, at some level, saying someone has a "boyfriend" is demeaning. I doubt it was conscious, but when he was riffing that's what came out -- and often that's when we get a glimpse into the truth. Reason to boycott the Dallas Mavericks? No. Reason for him to give some thoughtful consideration to what he said? Yes. Every incident like this puts a brick back into the wall of homophobia around sports.
Mark Cuban wrote as much on his blog:
I made a mistake in making the comment. I wasn’t trying to be hurtful. It wasn’t a comment on anyone’s sexuality. It was just me trying to be funny. It wasn’t. I quickly realized it and tried to fix it. I hoped at the time I didn’t offend anyone.
This blog post is not about trying to defend what I said. I’m not trying to defend my sense of humor. I’m not trying to convince you I’m not a homophobe. I’m not trying to justify anything at all.
I guess what I am doing is admitting that at some level I am prejudiced and that I recognize that I am . There are a lot of things in my life that I need to improve at. This is one of them. Sometimes I make stupid throw away comments that I quickly realize are wrong. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens. It was a mistake and I realized it. I learned from it.
Of course, he waited until he got caught; He didn't write this apology when it happened a week ago. Still, good for him. We would expect some sensitivity on this from Cuban. He is not an enemy of the gay community.
What sucks is that ESPN edited Cuban's "boyfriend" comment out of Simmons' podcast. It's kind of crappy of them: They shouldn't protect people who make dumb comments like this, even if they are big assets for ESPN.
Hat tip to Kelvin C.