Dirk Nowitzki is perturbed by Sports Illustrated‘s look into the Dallas Mavericks’ toxic workplace culture.
While the report specifically included a former senior employee applauding the environment within the locker room and around the players, the business side of the organization appears to have been fraught with misogyny and harassment for decades, dating back to before Mark Cuban owned the team. Nowitzki, now 39 and in his 20th season with the franchise, recently offered his thoughts on the matter, per the Dallas Morning News‘ Eddie Sefko:
“It’s very disappointing. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad it’s all coming out. I was disgusted when I read the article, obviously, as everybody was. I was shocked … that our franchise, my franchise, that stuff like that was going on”
A heartfelt response, as you would expect, from a classy player. And, unlike Cuban, you can believe Nowitzki when he says he was shocked to learn of what was happening behind the scenes. He doesn’t have a hand in the business side of basketball, and again, it matters a great deal that the team itself was identified something of a safe haven.
None of which is meant to downplay the severity of this issue, one that, once more, was perpetuated not for weeks or months, but for years. The NBA and the Mavericks and every other team needs to take this seriously. And to that end, the league is planning to set up an anonymous hotline for those who feel they’ve been violated or wronged in the workplace, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
The NBA is launching a confidential hotline to report workplace issues, including sexual harassment, according to a memo commissioner Adam SIlver sent to the 30 teams minutes ago.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 22, 2018
Silver sent a memo to teams titled "Respect in the Workplace," and reaffirmed the league's commitment to "a safe and inclusive work environment," according to memo obtained by ESPN. The hotline will be available to all league and team employees. It'll be up and running next week.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 23, 2018
This is a start—a tiny step in the right direction, but the correct move all the same. Still, it would be foolish to believe the Mavericks are the only team with a workplace-culture problem. Other situations might not be as drastic or longstanding, but it would behoove every organization to recommit itself to shoring up or reinventing its working environment so that this type of thing can cease to happen altogether.