This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, August 5, 2003. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.
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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: All eyes will be on tomorrow's court hearing including those of Kobe's bosses at the NBA. Believe it or not, our next guest says this is great for NBA business. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (search) joins us from Dallas.
Mark, let me make sure we are on the same page. You're talking about this being good for business, not for the sport, right?
MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: Correct. And I'm not saying this is -- I'm not saying I'm glad it happened. It's a terrible thing that's happened, a tragedy for all involved.
But the reality is -- I mean even in your remote you were covering the media and the media's coverage of the event. When you have this much coverage and you have media outlets competing to out-cover the event, to out-sensationalize the event, the net result is you have a whole nation that has chosen this as the tabloid story du jour.
And that, in turn, results in more people paying attention to the product and higher ratings means more impact. It's a just a sad state of affairs but that's the unfortunate reality.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mark, you have never been dull since you have become the owner of a the basketball team and NBA Commissioner David Stern (search) has issued a statement in response to what you're saying and he says, that the NBA responds:
"Any suggestion that there would be some economic or promotional benefit to the NBA rising from the charge pending against Kobe Bryant is both misinformed and ...unseemly.. that idea does not reflect the views of the NBA, NBA owners generally, or others associated with our sport."
Is he being less than candid when he says there isn't an economic benefit?
CUBAN: No. I think the point he's trying to make, and I agree with it, is that the NBA is not going to try to be opportunistic. It would be the exact wrong thing to do to try take advantage of approaching it like the media does.
The media is being opportunistic to take advantage of what's going on here and it would be wrong for the NBA to try that. It's not a topic they should be dwelling on.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, If Kobe were a player of yours, what would you say to him at this point?
CUBAN: Well, I'd give him whatever support he needs, legal, emotional, psychological, and then let the court system do its job. I'm not here to say I know anything more about Kobe or the circumstances, obviously, than anybody else. And I wouldn't try to. It's beyond anything that an owner can contribute to an individual player.
VAN SUSTEREN: Would you actually sit down and talk to him or do you keep a little distance from a player in trouble?
CUBAN: No, I'd never keep distance from anybody who worked for me that's in trouble. You always hope for the best. And I've said this before. In any large organization, whether it's AOL Time Warner, the Dallas Mavericks, or any business I'm involved with, you are going to have things go astray for individual employees.
And I think it's the responsibility of the employer to at least provide support. That doesn't mean you have to agree, but up to the point where the legal system takes over, you have to try to help.
VAN SUSTEREN: October 28, season opener for the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. Must-see TV is the way you've described it. Is it?
CUBAN: Well, I think the reality of how we consume media in this country is people will be so inundated with -- let's call it "ubiquitous notoriety" about Kobe. So much coverage of this trial, people will want to see how Kobe responds to the game. People are going to want to see how he performs. They're going to want to see how the media approaches him; how the fans approach him.
People are going to tune in to watch this. I'm not saying that's a good thing. It's just the reality. As I said, and you quoted, it's train-wreck TV. And if you look at the ratings, that's what attracts viewers. Again, I'm not endorsing it. It's just the reality.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's your thought in terms of whether or not he'll be distracted, whether he's going to be able to play well, as this thing -- because it's going to take, you know, to get through the court system?
CUBAN: No question it will be a distraction, and how he handles it, how his teammates handle it, how the league handles it will be a very interesting process. You know, I'll be watching along with everybody else. I'm just as curious as everybody else.
To me, that goes right to the point that I was making. We all want to see how this is handled and what happens. We've been trained. There's always a story du jour and we want to see the outcome and this is the story du jour right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, he's presumed innocent, he hasn't been convicted of anything, but at least he has admitted to adultery. Does this in any way poison or stain the NBA? A lot of people have been suspicious of the NBA before this, in many players.
CUBAN: You know, I bet you, if you talk to Dick Parsons at AOL Time Warner and said look...
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think he'll talk to me anymore.
CUBAN: I'm sorry -- or Rupert Murdoch.
VAN SUSTEREN: There you go.
CUBAN: If you talk to any head of a large corporation and said, you know what, less than 1 percent of your population predominantly male in their 20's will have legal problems over the course of the year, and each one of them is going to apologize and try to get help, they would take that problem any day of the week.
I think as a whole, you know, to have five or six people in the NBA have any type of legal problems is a tribute to the job the league has done in preparing these guys to play the game and to deal with society and the people around them.
I don't think it's a big tragedy. I think the league is bigger than any one individual and we'll definitely go on and thrive.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I was being flip about Dick Parsons. He was always nice to me when I was working over there.
CUBAN: Sorry, I got mixed up.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I was just being flip.
So, are you going to follow this case pretty carefully?
CUBAN: Absolutely. Who isn't? I mean, it's -- it seems like it's Kobe TV 24 by seven. You can't get away from it. My heart goes out to Kobe and his family and my heart goes out to the accuser and her family. Who knows how it all plays out? It's a lose-lose situation in so many ways, but like everybody else, I'll be following it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, stand by. We have a quick break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a former Laker Girl, I am pleased to announce your choice for male athlete. Kobe Bryant!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: We're back with Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. We're also joined by criminal defense attorneys Melinda McCallister is in New York, Jeff Brown is in Tampa, Ted Williams is in New Orleans, and here in Washington is Bernie Grimm.
And Mark, he certainly got a lot of attention. There was a lot of support from that awards that we'll see tomorrow night. Are you surprised?
CUBAN: Not at all, the good news is people do believe in innocence until proven guilty. I think particularly with Kobe the reputation he has, the relationship he has with fans of all ages, they're going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ted, what's your thought?
TED WILLIAMS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, my thoughts are, Greta, that I don't really believe that Kobe should have attended those award ceremonies. Look, a few weeks ago, his lawyers were out there trying to keep him from going to this arraignment tomorrow. And if he could attend that award ceremony, clearly it's questionable as to why they should have been out there trying to keep him from going to the arraignment tomorrow.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ted, I mean, in some way, I mean, like -- look, one of the problems he has, he can't hide in his basement and we'll chase him around with cameras no matter where he goes. We, in the media, we're going to follow that guy, so...
WILLIAMS: But we're not asking Kobe Bryant to hide. What Kobe Bryant has to play to is Eagle, Colorado, the citizens out there. And clearly he needs to take this matter very serious because it is a very serious matter.
That's what I find troubling going to these awards. I don't blame so much Kobe as I blame, perhaps, his lawyers. His lawyers clearly should have had him not going to those kind of award ceremonies as far as I'm concerned.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bernie?
BERNIE GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: I disagree with Ted and it's rare I disagree with him because he's usually.
WILLIAMS: That's right, because you're not close tonight.
GRIMM: I know, if you're right on my hip I can't disagree with you because of the size of those arms that you have, Ted.
But I disagree for this reason, the voting was done almost simultaneous with this event occurring. So, he couldn't have won and then not shown up. And to these children, and the voting was from 13 to 19 and my son's a 10-year-old and he loves Kobe Bryant, a little confused about what's happening now. And certainly difficult for me to explain to him what's happening now. But they idolize this guy.
He went and he got the award and I think he had to stand up and accept it. He won the award and the voting didn't take place after or before, which would have given him time to explain it. It was simultaneous with it. I just don't think he had a chance to back out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, he's a competitor, plays for the Lakers, but what do you think if he walked into -- if he were playing in Dallas? What kind of reception would he get from your crowd?
CUBAN: You know what, I'm not sure. It depends what information is available at the time. What's going to happen between now and October 28, who knows what information will be out there.
If we were today and he were playing today or tomorrow, I think he'd get a positive reception. If the information that comes out takes a turn for the worse, you know, people will tend to follow what they know in the media. It's really hard to predict.
VAN SUSTEREN: Jeff, what should he expect tomorrow when he goes to court?
JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: I think tomorrow will be a media frenzy. He knows that. His lawyers have prepared him for that. If I were advising him, I'd tell him in a very strong voice to unequivocally state that he is absolutely innocent of this charge. And that is the only comment he should make. I think that his lawyers have prepared him for that.
I agree with Ted that I don't understand why his lawyers told him not to appear or tried to argue that he shouldn't appear. I would want my client to appear. It's one of the best appearances he'll make in this trial, which is to profess his innocence.
WILLIAMS: You know, he doesn't have to say anything, Greta, tomorrow. When he goes there tomorrow, and he'll be advised of his rights and the charges, but he doesn't have to say one word tomorrow. And he perhaps will not say something tomorrow.
VAN SUSTEREN: Melinda, what should he expect tomorrow, in terms of...?
MELINDA MCCALLISTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: First of all, what he's going to be doing is he's not going to be entering a plea. He's not going to be saying, Hi, I'm not guilty. No, that's not what he's going to be doing.
It's basically an arraignment. In my state and every other state, you're read a reading of the actual charges against you. You tell the court when you can be available for scheduling. We're going to be doing a lot of scheduling and house cleaning stuff tomorrow, so basically that's what it is. It's a blip on the screen in terms of a defendant being in court. These usually take less than maybe a minute or two, if it's a non-celebrity.
However, from all the information we've received, we now have 30 cameras set up outside, over 400 news organizations, so certainly I agree this will be nothing less than a media circus.
It will be his first interaction with this judge. If I were his attorney, I'd say be as nice as you can, stand up straight, be very, very respectful of the judge, and have a certain decorum in the courtroom because judges really appreciate that when you honor them. VAN SUSTEREN: Mark, have you talked to any other owners since the arrest?
CUBAN: I've talked to one, and we both basically had the same opinion, that it's an unfortunate set of circumstances and you just hope that it turns out for the best, whatever that is. Like I said earlier, there really is no upside in any of this. Both sides are going to suffer.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's the story, Mark -- I'm jumping way ahead. But if somebody is convicted of a felony, but gets probation, so the person isn't incarcerated, does he still play? I mean ...
CUBAN: The precedence says they'll suspend him. Depending on the severity of the crime, as opposed to the punishment, will decide on how long he's suspended before. So, I'm not trying to speak for the commissioner of the NBA, but it would not be good for Kobe.
On the flipside, if he's found innocent, he'd probably become the most popular figure in America. That's a guess, but I think that's probably what's going to happen.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Karl Malone and Gary Payton are going to the Lakers. It was thought that with Shaq and Kobe the Lakers had the lock on next year. What does this do to the Lakers, do you think, Mark?
CUBAN: First of all, they did have a lock. I'd be more than happy to send them a couple cases of Geritol because they're probably going to need it. But at the same time, I'm sure it creates uncertainty in their mind.
There will be a media circus following them everywhere they go, an amazing distraction. If something doesn't go right, or goes the least bit wrong, it will be the first excuse that's most likely grabbed at. It's going to be fascinating to follow. It is going to be a sociological study just to follow all this and see how it all plays out.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Mark, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Click here to order the entire transcript of the August 5 edition of On the Record.
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