Alumni in the NBA: Harrison Barnes unhappy with Mark Cuban’s comments

Former Tar Heel Harrison Barnes is the latest person to voice displeasure with controversial comments made by Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

Dallas Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes became yet another individual to speak out against public comments made by Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

In a Friday interview with Eurohoops’ George Efkarpides, Cuban praised the overseas development of Slovenian rookie Luka Dončić, whose averages of 19 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists are quickly propelling him to international stardom.

Cuban wasn’t finished after heralding the Mavs’ third overall draft pick, though. He went on to decry how young American players are developed domestically, claiming that the American youth are more focused on dunking and crafting flashy highlight packages instead of learning how to fundamentally play the game of basketball like players are supposedly doing in Europe:

“. . . When you’re gifted as he is and you actually learn to play the game. If you look at the basketball education of kids starting at 11 years old in Europe and particularly Slovenia which is basketball oriented. If we took our best kids and seven years before they are McDonald’s all-American, we sent them over to Slovenia to get an education, the league would be a thousand times better. They just learn how to play basketball while our guys learn how to dunk and put together mixtapes.”


On Saturday, Harrison Barnes delivered a written statement to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, voicing his displeasure with Cuban’s unsettling comments and noting that the differences between all players and their perspectives should be celebrated, not degraded or disrespected:

It’s certainly understandable why Barnes or any other player — or anyone else, for that matter — would see these remarks from Cuban as off-putting and offensive. At best, Cuban is merely being boldly outspoken in his ignorance (something he’s known to do from time to time). At worst, however, he’s being wholly insensitive, with some people viewing his slight against American youth as harmful coded language that goes far beyond the game of basketball itself.

Sure, Cuban has a point in believing that the AAU system and the college recruitment bidding war is problematic and flawed; but, really, what developmental system isn’t? Strengths and weaknesses are abundant, no matter where the player is, be it in a big city in America or a small town in Slovenia.

Just because there are differences in upbringing and development — differences that Barnes believes add up to be a major strength of the League — doesn’t mean that any one system is less valuable than another, and it especially doesn’t mean that one can be callously thrown under the bus in such a brash manner.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of Cuban’s comments is the sheer nature of them. Why call out the American development system when so many of your own players — and a majority of players in the NBA, for that matter — are American-born? Why risk offending some of your own players, or at the very least upsetting them to the point where they feel a need to speak out?

Whatever the reasoning was behind Cuban’s controversial comments, he frustrated more than just the average social media user. He upset one of his own players.

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