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Mavericks fire team photographer after sexual harassment allegations

The Dallas Mavericks long-time team photographer was fired this week for sexual harassment, which raises more questions about the organization.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The purging of the Mavericks organization’s toxic parts continued this week as Dallas fired its longtime team photographer, Danny Bollinger, for sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior in the workplace, The Dallas Morning News reported on Monday.

Bollinger is the first dismissal we’ve heard about since the Mavericks released the report after a months-long investigation started due to a report from Sports Illustrated back in February. The details from the Morning News are ugly:

Two say Bollinger propositioned them for sex multiple times, and one said he showed her inappropriate photos while at work of Mavericks dancers and female fans sitting in the front row at games.

The DMN reported that Bollinger’s harassment was made clear to the independent investigators during their investigations, being told of his behavior by multiple women. Those findings were not in the report, because the investigators said they only referenced individual incidents that were already made public by the Sports Illustrated story. Bollinger was fired on Friday after the Mavericks started a two-week investigation following the completion of the investigators report back on Sept. 19.

While it’s ultimately a good thing that Bollinger is gone, this raises some more questions, like: why didn’t the Mavericks dismiss Bollinger sooner? The allegations about Bollinger’s behavior were brought to the attention of the internal investigators, yet it was two weeks after the report went out that Bollinger was fired. Mark Cuban responded to why this happened to the Morning News:

“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 and the professionals she brought in are not capable of doing their jobs,” Cuban said, in part, referring to CEO Cynthia Marshall, who was hired in February from AT&T to help clean up the organization. “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.”

Even with that knowledge, how does Bollinger’s name get mentioned to the investigators and, as the DMN reports, be allowed to shoot the press conference on Sept. 19 announcing the findings of said report?

Regardless of whatever internal processes a business has to run through before firing an employee, it seems extremely tone-deaf to have Bollinger work that particular press conference, at minimum.

There are laws and procedures for firing employees but it just seems insane that if Bollinger’s harassment was told to investigators that Bollinger would be working that press conference. If the Mavericks had to conduct their own investigation after hearing this from the investigators, why not delay the press conference until the cruft is removed? Or have someone else work that particular event? There seemed to be better ways of handling this than letting Bollinger work for at least two weeks — including flying with the team to China — since the Mavericks knew of these allegations.

It also leads to the question of what else went wrong with the Mavericks that we are unaware of? While respecting the privacy of the victims is of utmost importance, it doesn’t look good that Bollinger wasn’t fired until after the DMN published their initial report. Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall told the DMN that “we were transparent about the findings of the independent investigation. Our own internal investigations will not yield transparency. It’s private. It’s the normal course of doing business.”

The Mavericks don’t have to make a dog and pony show over every firing or dismissal, but it doesn’t sit well that the Mavericks aren’t publicly holding themselves accountable for their 20 years of misdeeds.

Maybe I have a poor idea of how corporate America works. (I do.) But if the Mavericks really want to completely clean up the organization, maybe they should start showing their work.