Mark Cuban and the Mavericks honored Tony Romo on Tuesday night by allowing him to suit up for their final home game of the season against the Nuggets. The now-former Cowboys quarterback took part in a shootaround earlier in the day and then wore a Mavericks uniform and sat on the bench during Dallas’ 109-91 loss to Denver.
But according to Cuban, he originally wanted to take things a step further. He planned on allowing Romo to suit up and to actually get in the game and play for the Mavericks. He even went as far as to talk to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about his plan to do it. "I told him what I was going to do," Cuban said on Tuesday night, "and said, 'Fine me if you don’t like it.'"
The problem Cuban eventually faced, though, was that in order for Romo to play, he would need to sign a contract. And Silver told him that any contract Romo signed would not be honored by the league. Prior to the game, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle also spoke about how it wouldn’t have made sense to devote a ton of resources towards having Romo sign an actual NBA contract simply to play for a few minutes. He also questioned whether or not Romo would have been able to keep up on the court.
"Signing him and stuff like that would have been too much for a lot of reasons," Carlisle said. "No. 1, he’s a football athlete that’s not ready to play in an NBA game. That’s very risky. No. 2, to sign a guy with all of our requirements from a physical standpoint with the hours and hours of screening and all that kinds of other stuff, it just wasn’t worth going there. And that’s not really what this is about."
The Mavericks also would have faced a lot of backlash for playing Romo. As it stood, there were some people who were upset with the team for letting Romo suit up. One Nuggets employee reportedly took a shot at the team before the game on Tuesday night:
Former NBA player James White also chimed in and criticized the Mavericks for giving Romo a uniform:
But Cuban defended his decision to allow Romo to suit up and take layups with the Mavericks before the game. He reminded everyone that the Mavericks are in the business of entertaining people, which is exactly what they did by honoring Romo.
"Anybody who thinks a layup line is disrespectful hasn’t watched an NBA game," Cuban said. "We’ve got people shooting half-court shots at every break. We’ve got kids for ball boys…We’re entertainment. And if they’re so self-important they can’t recognize that, it’s on them. Not me."
We understand why Cuban’s decision to honor Romo in the way that he did would rub some people the wrong way. But at the same time, it made an otherwise meaningless Nuggets/Mavericks game memorable, and fans seemed to love it. They even snatched up all of the Romo jerseys and T-shirts that the Mavericks had made in the first quarter of the game.
So at the end of the day, this actually ended up being one of the cooler moments from the Mavericks’ 2016-17 NBA season.