SHANGHAI — NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Friday that the league office is monitoring how the Dallas Mavericks are responding to allegations of improper workplace conduct that were not included in the investigative report released two weeks ago.
The Dallas Morning News reported Friday, citing former female employees that spoke on the condition of anonymity, that longtime team photographer Danny Bollinger has a history of making lewd comments and propositioning women at work.
Two of the women told the newspaper that they informed investigators about Bollinger’s misconduct, but he was not included in the 43-page report released at the conclusion of the seven-month independent investigation. Silver said the league office had been informed of the allegations against Bollinger, who was sent home from the Mavs’ trip to China on Thursday.
“My concern level is always extraordinarily high when you’re hearing stories about any inappropriate conduct in the workplace, whether it’s those allegations at the Mavericks or anywhere at our teams,” Silver said during his news conference before the Mavericks-Philadelphia 76ers preseason game.
“I will say that, when the investigators did their review of the Mavericks’ organization, they made a decision to not make public allegations that were brought by employees who chose to remain anonymous. What they did at the end of the investigation was, in essence, shift to the new management of the Dallas Mavericks, run by Cynthia Marshall, their findings with an understanding that Cynthia Marshall, then using a more traditional human resources process, would continue to investigate particular employees and then act on them.
“Part of the process, the new process we put in place with the Mavericks, was an ongoing reporting obligation to the league office. So Cynthia Marshall has been in constant contact with Kathy Behrens at the league office. We were aware of those additional allegations, and we are monitoring how they are responding to them.
“To the best of my knowledge, and I haven’t talked to Cynthia in the last few days, I think they’re well equipped now with the new organization they put in place to do the appropriate and necessary investigations and then to act on those findings.”
A Sports Illustrated story exposing sexual misconduct in the organization led to the independent investigation into the organization led by former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram and Evan Krutoy, an ex-prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
The investigation described “a corporate culture rife with misogyny and predatory sexual behavior” that spanned decades in the Mavericks organization, including numerous allegations against former CEO and president Terdema Ussery, who left the Mavericks in 2015. Among the findings were evidence of inappropriate comments, touching, forcible kissing and the viewing and sharing of pornographic images and videos.
It concluded that team owner Mark Cuban was not personally involved in any of the incidents of sexual harassment and improper workplace conduct within the Mavericks organization. He did donate $10 million to various women’s organizations to recognize the failures of the team.
The 50-year-old Bollinger has worked for the Mavericks for 18 years, but according to a 2002 Sports Illustrated story he had a personal relationship with Cuban before that. That article says that he introduced Cuban to his future wife, Tiffany Stewart, in 1997, when Bollinger was dating Stewart’s sister.
Among the allegations against Bollinger cited by the Morning News, one woman accused him of taking close-up photos of Mavericks dancers’ bodies and then showing them to her unsolicited and making inappropriate comments. The woman said that she did not report Bollinger to human resources but did talk to investigators about the behavior.
Another woman, who worked as a volunteer for the team, said that Bollinger stopped her car as she was leaving the office on two occasions and propositioned her for sex. She did report the incidents to human resources.
Contacted by the Dallas Morning News, Cuban said that the process of ridding the team of sexual misconduct is ongoing and denied interfering with that process.
“To suggest that the Mavs hid anything or didn’t take an action for any reason, any whatsoever, is to claim that you believe that Cynt (Cynthia Marshall) and the professionals she brought in are not capable of doing their jobs,” Cuban said, according to the newspaper. “They have, they are and will continue to do the jobs they know how to do and continue to have carte blanche to make any personnel decisions they feel the need to make in accordance with the guidelines they defined, not what any outside organization feels they should be.”
Marshall told the newspaper that their internal investigation is ongoing.
“We were transparent about the findings of the independent investigation,” she said. “Our own internal investigations will not yield transparency. It’s private. It’s the normal course of doing business.”