Mark Cuban Rebuts Ex-FBI Man's Claim
DALLAS (CN) - Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban rebutted a report that he consulted with a retired FBI agent who claims he told Cuban to sue the league for its officiating at the 2006 NBA Finals.
The Mavericks held a two-games-to-none lead over the Miami Heat in the best-of-seven series before losing four straight games in a stunning collapse.
Retired FBI agent Warren Flagg said he consulted with Cuban after the series and that Cuban was considering a lawsuit, according to a May 16 report in The Oregonian newspaper.
"Cuban asked me what he should do," Flagg said, according to The Oregonian. "I told him, 'Sue and you'll win your case,' but he knew he'd be killing the Golden Goose."
Cuban had criticized how officials were selected for the playoffs, the newspaper reported. He was upset over non-calls in the Heat's favor in a 101-100 loss in Game 5 and went on the floor to confront official Joe DeRosa while glaring at NBA commissioner David Stern in the stands.
Cuban was fined $450,000 for those two incidents; he has been fined more than $1.6 million since he bought the Mavericks in 2000.
Cuban took to Twitter on Tuesday, denying the consultation ever took place.
"To set the record straight I have never hired or consulted with any former FBI agents to investigate our 2006 Finals," Cuban tweeted.
Cuban had said earlier that he did not remember the conversation with Flagg, The Oregonian reported.
Flagg did not immediately respond to Courthouse News' request for comment Tuesday evening.
He is a 27-year veteran of the FBI and now runs his own investigative and security firm in New York.
Flagg has not spoken with Cuban since The Oregonian story broke, Flagg told Courthouse News on Wednesday. He said Cuban was the one who reached out to him and that he was only "consulted," not retained.
Flagg said Cuban did not ask him to do anything in the conversation, which took place after the NBA's investigation into disgraced former referee Tim Donaghy. Donaghy, convicted of betting on games he officiated in and making calls that affected the point spread, spent 11 months in federal prison and was released in 2009.
In the wake of that scandal, the NBA hired former federal prosecutor Lawrence Pedowitz to investigate and report on the league's referees and gambling.
Flagg said Cuban asked about what Donaghy was going to write about in his tell-all book, "Personal Foul: A First-Person Account of the Scandal That Rocked the NBA," published in 2009.
Flagg said he was retained at the time by Donaghy's defense team. He said the "majority" of the conversation was about Donaghy's sentencing memorandum.
Cuban told Oregonian columnist Joe Canzano on his KXTG radio show Tuesday that he did not speak to Flagg immediately after the finals, that it may have been as late as 2008. Flagg did not dispute this.
Flagg said he has a witness, that he was having lunch with an unidentified Green Beret veteran of the Vietnam War during the conversation with Cuban.
Flagg said this dispute "isn't personal," that it relates with the NBA owners' ousting of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league, who was banned for life after recordings of racist statements he made were made public April 25.
"I was retained by Tim Donaghy," Flagg said. "It is what it is."
Flagg said possible depositions in the Sterling matter would reveal other findings from the Pedowitz report.
"Sterling has not contacted me, but I emailed his lawyers," Flagg said. "My thought process is that his lawyers are waiting on the NBA to react. ... God knows what [Sterling] knows, I've never spoken to him."
Flagg said people should "read into" comments Cuban made that forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers would create a "slippery slope."
"Instead of talking about the NBA playoffs, we're talking about this," Flagg said. "They could settle this, or everything can go crazy."
Flagg says he has no problem with Cuban, praising him for donating New York Knicks tickets to students from P.S. 72 in the Bronx. He noted that Cuban donated a jersey autographed by the Mavericks to be auctioned off at the Leonard W. Hatton Memorial Golf Classic in June, a benefit golf tournament for the family of an FBI agent killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.