Late in Tuesday’s game between the NBA’s Mavericks and Nuggets in Dallas, fans were chanting, “We want Romo!” Owner Mark Cuban wanted to give them what they wanted.
Via Todd Archer of ESPN.com, Cuban wanted to let Romo play, and the maverick Maverick told Commissioner Adam Silver that Romo would be playing.
“I told him what I was going to do and said, ‘Fine me if you don’t like it,'” Cuban said.
Silver said Romo’s contract wouldn’t be honored, which apparently was enough to get Cuban and company to stand down.
“Signing him and stuff like that, would have been too much for a lot of reasons,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Number one, he’s a football athlete that’s not ready to play in an NBA game. That’s very risky. Number two, 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.”
So Romo instead participated in a shootaround with the Mavericks and took part in the pregame layup line. Cuban had a Cubanesque message for those who believe giving Romo a role in pregame activities amounted to a breach of basketball etiquette.
“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.”
But there’s a line between entertaining and undermining the integrity of the game. Letting Romo play would have crossed the line between the NBA and the Globetrotters, giving teams the ability to fill seats and generate interest through a wide variety of gimmicks that would take away from the idea that only the best basketball players in the world play professional basketball.