Mark Cuban is known for being brash when speaking out against his detractors, but when it comes to NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley--and his harsh words for the use of data analytics in basketball--Cuban is taking the high road.
At an off-the-record panel discussion during the NBA's All-Star Technology Summit over the weekend, Cuban didn't exchange jabs with Barkley, much to the chagrin of everyone in attendance who came to see a verbal battle.
The debate over statistical analysis in basketball first caught fire on February 10, when Barkley trashed general managers who use analytics when picking players. On top of criticizing this Moneyball-esque approach to assessing basketball talent, Barkley referred to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey as "one of those idiots who believe in analytics."
To help set the record straight, Cuban called in to Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan to comment on the value of data and analytics in basketball. Not only have Cuban's Dallas Mavericks been using data and analytics since he bought the team 15 years ago, but Cuban even went so far as to hire his former statistics professor at the University of Indiana to help crunch numbers for the team.
"It helped us come back from a 2-0 deficit against Houston in the playoffs," Cuban told The Fan. "We adjusted our lineups based on what the numbers said."
While Barkley may disagree with the merits of this approach, Cuban's strategy seems to have paid off, as the Mavs won the NBA Finals in 2011.
While some expected Cuban to go further and criticize Barkley, his words for the 11-time NBA All-Star were much more generous than anyone expected.
"He's half-right," Cuban conceded, adding that when every NBA team starts using analytics to pick the best players, it hurts your advantage. When The Fan's hosts asked Cuban why he didn't at least come to Morey's defense by criticizing Barkley on Twitter, Cuban once again took the polite route.
"That's not a battle I'm going to get in the middle of," he said. "Charles isn't even on social media!"