The beef started when Cuban responded to a tweet from talk radio host Mark Davis in which he declared he was excited for the NBA to return to action but would be “OUT” the minute a player kneels during the national anthem.
“Bye,” Cuban responded to the tweet, but Cruz took notice and didn’t appreciate the snarky response that seemed to imply the Mavericks don’t mind if players protest during the national anthem by taking a knee.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was dared to reveal his thoughts on China during a Twitter spat with Ted Cruz.
“Really??!? NBA is telling everyone who stands for the flag, who honors our cops and our veterans, to ‘piss off?’ In Texas, no less? Good luck with that,” Cruz wrote.
The Mavericks owner fired back, “Have some balls for once @tedcruz. It’s my tweet.”
Cruz then evoked the ongoing controversy over the NBA’s relationship with China. The league came under fire last year after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted pro-Hong Kong rhetoric just ahead of the league’s China series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
“Speaking of balls, tell us what you think about China,” Cruz wrote. “I’ll wait.”
Earlier this month, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., sent a press release detailing a letter he planned to send NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, criticizing the league’s decision to limit messages players can wear on their uniforms to “pre-approved, social justice slogans” while “censoring support” for law enforcement and criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.
China began to crack down on the NBA almost immediately after last year Morey expressed support for Hong Kong, as Chinese sportswear brands either suspended or severed ties with the Rockets. The Communist government also blacked out broadcasts of the league’s preseason games in the country and canceled NBA Cares events and media availabilities ahead of an exhibition games between the Lakers and Nets.
Many NBA stars, coaches and executives have since been criticized for taking a stance on Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump issues while refusing to speak up about issues related to the Chinese Communist Party.
Hawley’s letter asked the NBA commissioner to answer five questions: Whether the NBA will censor pro-military or pro-police statements; whether it’s true that phrases approved for display on jerseys don’t include messages in support of victims of the Chinese Communist Party; whether the NBA will censor any message showing support for victims of the Chinese Community Party; how the league plans to defend players who speak out against China; and whether the league will condemn China for trying to silence players.
Cruz also mocked Cuban for implying that the senator was somehow trying to keep his tweet a secret by not directly tagging the Mavericks owner.
“Yes, Mark, my communication tweeting out my response to the world was meant somehow to keep it a secret. Because you’re very scary,” Cruz wrote.
Cruz sent a follow-up tweet noting that Cuban had not responded.
“Let’s try simpler. Mark, tough guy, can you say ‘Free Hong Kong?’ Can your players put that on their jerseys? Can you condemn the CCP’s concentration camps w/ 1 million Uyghurs? Can you say ANYTHING other than ‘Chairman Mao is beautiful & wise?’ Cruz asked.
Cuban eventually responded to Cruz’s demands to speak about China, saying he doesn’t get involved in domestic policies of other countries. He also provided a link to a 2019 YouTube video as proof he would speak out against China if needed and mocked Cruz for his relationship with President Trump.
Meanwhile, Hawley also slammed the NBA for pulling custom gear from its online store following the backlash the league received last week for blocking “Free Hong Kong” to be printed on its apparel.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.