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Dirk Nowitzki responds to harassment, tanking reports in Dallas: 'Players never play to lose'

It’s been a brutal week of news around the Dallas Mavericks.

Late Tuesday, a Sports Illustrated report of a culture of sexual misconduct and predation around the team’s offices broke, prompting the firing of the Mavericks human resources director Buddy Pittman and team writer Earl K. Sneed, who said he had a clause in his contract prohibiting him from one-on-one contact with female employees because the team was aware of his history of abusing women.

On Wednesday, the NBA fined owner Mark Cuban $600,000 for admitting on a podcast with Julius Erving that he encouraged his team to tank.

“I’m probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night and here we are, you know, we weren’t competing for the playoffs, I was like, ‘Look, losing is our best option,’” Cuban told Dr. J, via The Dallas Morning News.

Cuban has been vocal in responding to the news, but until Wednesday night, we had not heard from any of the Mavericks players.

Dallas News reporter Eddie Sefko spoke with Dirk Nowitzki about both issues on Wednesday. His response to the report of tanking was not a surprise. As tanking for NBA draft lottery ping-pong balls is one of the biggest open secrets in sports, it’s generally assumed that that is a decision made in the front office, not by players on the court while they’re competing. Nowitzki said as much, that he would never play to lose.

Nowitzki also spoke on the misconduct allegations in the team’s business offices, reports that don’t extend to the basketball court. He told Sefko that he was “disgusted” by the report.

Sefko aslo spoke with Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, who said that Cuban told him that he was embarrassed and apologized for his tanking comments.

The news in Dallas is bad right now, particularly the sexual misconduct reports. For the players and fans, there appears to be some solace that the those issues appear to have been limited to the team’s business operations and kept out of the locker room.

Dirk Nowitzki said that players on the Dallas Mavericks aren’t attempting to tank. (AP)