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‘It’s disrespectful’ — Mark Cuban doesn’t like the latest Luka Doncic mural in Deep Ellum

Artist Preston Pannek is making a statement.

Preston Pannek and his wife, Adrienne, stand in front of their latest Luka Doncic painting.
Preston Pannek and his wife, Adrienne, stand in front of their latest Luka Doncic painting, which hangs on the side of St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin in Dallas, Texas.
Andrew Sherman

A new painting in Deep Ellum is causing quite a stir. On the side of St. Pete’s Dancing Marlin, a neighborhood bar and grill, muralist Preston Pannek hung a painting of Dallas Mavericks phenom Luka Doncic. Rather than just featuring a likeness of the Slovenian superstar, it includes a message.

The painting shows Doncic holding a sign over his head that reads, “PLEASE SEND HELP,” with some of Doncic’s recent astonishing stat lines surrounding it. It’s a sentiment that many Mavericks fans have expressed this season. However, not everyone is happy with the artwork, most notably Mavericks’ governor Mark Cuban.

“It’s disrespectful,” Cuban wrote in an email to Pannek, which the artist shared with Mavs Moneyball. “But it’s your choice to do what you want. If that’s the way you want to be a fan. Go for it.”

Pannek says he has been a die-hard Mavs fan since 2000. His concern is that the front office isn’t doing everything possible to build a championship contender, and he doesn’t want to see Doncic’s talent squandered. So, when Cuban reacted that way after he reached out to him, Pannek said he was taken aback.

“I find it an odd way that he handled the emails the way that he did,” Pannek said. “He could have easily just invited me down to a game and talked about this if he was really that upset that he seems to be. But he took it a different way.”

In a follow-up email to Pannek, who attempted to explain his rationale for the mural, Cuban again dismissed the mural’s message before expressing his appreciation for Pannek’s work.

“Not being the first to say something always justifies what you say, Preston,” Cuban wrote. “I appreciate the other murals you have done. You truly have artistic talent.”

This isn’t the first time the Mavericks have been the subject matter for one of Pannek’s pieces. He and his wife, Adrienne, who works alongside him, have done several, he says. In fact, this latest painting of Doncic covers the zoomorphic mural he did of Kristaps Porzingis as a unicorn.

Pannek, who says he does his Mavericks murals for the fans, has another mural in mind for a future project. He wants to depict the various stages of Jason Kidd’s career with the organization—his early years, the 2011 championship, and as the team’s head coach. However, he says the timing isn’t quite right to start on it.

“I can love Jason Kidd all I want, and he can have done everything he’s done for the Mavericks, but as far as sports go, it’s what have you done for me today in this world,” Pannek said. “Today, Jason Kidd’s not everybody’s favorite person.”

As for his “PLEASE SEND HELP” painting of Doncic, it’s certainly garnering a lot of attention. Multiple news outlets have spoken with Pannek about it, and it’s racking up plenty of likes on social media. It just didn’t land with the man whose opinion matters most regarding the Mavericks’ future.

“I was hoping he would be the kind of person that would see like, ‘Oh shit, the fans really are upset,’” Pannek said of Cuban. “People really want Luka to get some help. I thought he would take that and go get the help, but it doesn’t look like that’s how this is going to work out.”

Pannek isn’t letting Cuban’s distaste for his painting affect his work and fandom. He’s using it as motivation and still pulling for the Mavericks every game. He knows that anything is possible when Luka Doncic is on the court.

“As long as Luka is on that team and Luka is healthy, you can’t put anything out of reach because that kid, at any point in time, can just take over everything,” Pannek said. “So, could he win a championship with this team? Maybe. We didn’t think anybody could do 60 [points], 21 [rebounds], 10 [assists], but he just did it.”