Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynt Marshall. The Mavericks had just held their Courageous Conversations event outside the American Airlines Center and I wanted to get to know a few things about the event and her thoughts in general about the protests and racial unrest we’re seeing in Dallas and across the country.
“I think these young people, and they’re very diverse, they are saying this is what happened to George Floyd, that foot that was on his neck, that, in my opinion, symbolizes a foot that has been on the neck of African American people for hundreds of years because of slavery, because of Jim Crow, because of the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration—I’m about to go on and on,” Marshall told me. “This generation of diverse people, they’re saying, ‘No, we are going to have equity, equality, and justice, and we’re not standing for this.’”
What I especially wanted to know is how Marshall and the Mavericks, who’ve attended rallies and vigils, reconcile their close relationship with the Dallas Police Department after the killings of Black men and women by police in Dallas and elsewhere. Her response to this questions, and each one I asked, was honest, sincere, and heartfelt.
D Magazine ran our conversation. You can read it here.
In the wake of the tragedies unfolding across the country, Marshall knows that the Mavericks cannot sit idly by. As such, the organization is launching a new initiative called Mavs Take ACTION. The purpose of this initiative is to address the systemic social inequities brought about through racial discrimination. It plans to look at ways to improve access to education, criminal justice, public policy, healthcare, housing, child welfare, and employment, among other issues.
“Truly, we are at a point in time now, it’s a moment where we’ve got to take it up quite a few notches,” Marshall said. “And so, we’re going to be talking as an organization, some of us, about what else can we do to really try to make a difference with some of these systems. A holistic approach to addressing these inequities and disparities.”
I wrote more about the Mavs Take ACTION initiative for Forbes. You can find my reporting here.
Our conversation wasn’t entirely about societal ills. I also asked her how she thinks the Mavericks will do once the season restarts in Orlando. To say she’s optimistic would be selling her short.
“Well, I told somebody the other day, and they said they can’t wait to see Luka and KP and some of the guys—Tim,” Marshall said. “They can’t wait to see him. They said, ‘So I wonder how long we’re going to see them.’ I said, ‘You’re going to see them until they lift the trophy.’ And they’re like, ‘Cynt, what? No way!’ And I said, ‘Why not? Why not? They’re talented, they’re strong.’
“So anyway, I have no prediction other than I know they are going to play very hard and I would love to see them go all the way, but I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on them. I’m not gonna put that kind of pressure on them. I know we’ve had like a strange kind of season here, but my prediction is that they will play hard and they will advance. They will advance. Obviously. I think they’re going to win it all, but that’s just Cynt.”