Mark Cuban denies snubbing Don and Donnie Nelson at ceremony

Mark Cuban insists he hasn’t given a pair of well-known former Dallas Mavericks employees a cold shoulder.

Former Mavs coach Don Nelson and his son, former Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson, were noticeably absent from the shirt-withdrawal ceremony for Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki earlier this week. Speaking with Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News Friday, Don said he was not invited to the event.

– I wasn’t invited, Don said. “I really wanted to be there, but I didn’t think I should just show up without an invitation, so I didn’t… I don’t think Dirk had a decision on who was there. I think it’s a question of organization. Mark Cuban will do that, I’m sure.

Townsend’s Story also cited former Mavs minority owner Frank Zachinelli, who reacted to the Nelson’s absence. Zachinelli was responsible for hiring Don to the team in 1997.

“It is clear that the Cubans carry these loopholes and that there were glaring holes [at the event]”said Zachinelli.” Don Nelson, apart from Holger [Geschwindner] and Dirk’s father, is more responsible for the maturing of Dirk Nowitzki than any other human being.

Zachinelli was a minority owner from 1996 to 2000 under then majority owner Ross Perot Jr., from whom Cuban bought the team in 2000. Perot sued Cuban in 2010 for alleged “financial mismanagement” of the Mavs, a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed.

“Cuba’s break with Ross Jr. is its break with Ross Jr.,” Zaccanelli said. “But without Ross Jr. he’d be just another billion dollar guy. [and] that nobody really knows much about. And it’s a [expletive] do. And not having Don Nelson at this ceremony, how could you do that?

Townsend’s story contains more details of Cuba’s top-to-bottom relationship with the Nelson, and you can read it in full here.

Cuban reacted to the claim that he snubbed the Nelson’s by an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Dalton Trigg.

“Of course that’s not true,” Cuban said. “Not a single word on it. The entire article was initiated by Zachinelli, and [they] fell for it. Then the people who made the event corrected [them]. “

Cuban refers to how Townsend’s story was later updated to reflect that Nowitzki, according to multiple sources, personally contacted the Nelsons to invite them to his shirt removal ceremony. Townsend’s Story also stated that Cuban was not in charge of the guest list, which would have been done by an event planner.

For what it’s worth, Cuban and Nowitzki both mentioned and thanked the Nelson’s at the ceremony. You can see this for yourself at marks 24:08 and 29:34 in the following video.

Don coached the Mavs from 1997 to 2005, making him Nowitzki’s first NBA coach. Donnie was general manager of the Mavs from 2005 to 2021, when he was fired under controversial circumstances.

While the Nelson’s absence may have been just a communication issue, the drama definitely cast a shadow over Nowitzki’s ceremony.

Photo: November 27, 2016; Dallas, Texas, United States; Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban smiles for the camera before the Dallas Mavericks-New Orleans Pelicans game at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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