A $6.5 Million Question: Did Don Nelson Use "Confidential Information" to Help Golden State to Upset Dallas?In case you're wondering how ugly the ongoing feud between Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban and Golden State coach Don Nelson is, Cuban is now claiming that Nelson used "confidential information" to help Golden State to its monumental upset victory over Dallas in the first round of the 2007 playoffs. Punchlines flow quickly and easily about this one--"It's not confidential information that Dallas is soft" or "It's not confidential information that Dirk Nowitzki has no post-up game"--but this is no laughing matter for either side: $6.5 million is at stake.
This all began when Nelson filed an arbitration claim against Cuban for said $6.5 million, deferred compensation that Nelson says Cuban owes him and never paid. Cuban contends that Nelson had a non-compete clause in his contract that forbade Nelson from working for another team; Nelson's response to that is that since Cuban never paid him the deferred money or the $200,000 per year consulting fee that was in the contract that he was no longer bound by the non-compete clause. The case will be resolved by binding arbitration (i.e., no appeals process for the loser) that is expected to take place in October or November after the attorneys for both sides have had time to take depositions and make their cases to the panel of retired judges who will decide the matter.
I don't pretend to know what the ultimate ruling will be but Cuban certainly comes off as both petty and a sore loser. Nelson resurrected a Mavericks' franchise that had been in suspended animation (or lack of animation, to be precise) since Mark Aguirre was traded and Roy Tarpley fell off the wagon in the late 1980s. Nelson drafted Dirk Nowitzki, acquired Steve Nash and groomed a great successor in Avery Johnson; raise your hand if 10 years ago you expected a total of three MVPs and one Coach of the Year Award from those three individuals. When Nelson left Dallas, he passed the reigns to Johnson, who guided the team that Nelson pretty much built from scratch to the NBA Finals. I understand that Nelson's departure from Dallas may not have been harmonious but Cuban should take the high road, acknowledge that Nelson did a great job while he was there, pay him whatever the contract says he owes him and be done with it. Instead, Cuban appears to be searching for technicalities to justify not paying Nelson simply because he is mad at Nelson; saying that Nelson used "confidential information" to help Golden State beat Dallas sounds like the whining of a sore loser. Maybe the arbitration panel will side with Cuban--but that won't make it right.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:56 AM