Former Dallas Mavericks President and CEO Terdema Ussery, photographed here in 2014, is accused of harassing multiple employees.

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Terdema Ussery’s Statement Doesn’t Make Much Sense

The logic of the former Mavs president's response to sexual misconduct allegations is inconsistent, at best.

If you haven’t read Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther’s Sports Illustrated investigation into the Mavericks’ toxic workplace culture, take some time to do that as soon as you can. A large part of it centers on former team president Terdema Ussery and his alleged pattern of sexual misconduct. He was the subject of an internal investigation when Ross Perot Jr. still owned the franchise, and, according to multiple sources, that misconduct continued until he left the organization in 2015. And after he left the Mavs and joined Under Armour, he was let go for the same behavior. In response to SI, Ussery gave this statement:

“I am deeply disappointed that anonymous sources have made such outright false and inflammatory accusations against me. During my career with the Mavericks, I have strived to conduct myself with character, integrity and empathy for others. During my nearly 20 year tenure with the Mavericks, I am not aware of any sexual harassment complaints about me or any findings by the organization that I engaged in inappropriate conduct. In fact, on multiple occasions I and other senior executives at the organization raised concerns—both in person and in emails—about other Mavericks employees who had engaged in highly inappropriate—and in some cases, threatening—sexual conduct. The organization refused to address these concerns, and I believe these misleading claims about me are part of an attempt to shift blame for the failure to remove employees who created an uncomfortable and hostile work environment within the Mavericks organization.

Ussery does two sort of amazing things here.

1. He claims that he is “not aware of any sexual harassment complaints about me” even though he was the subject of an internal investigation about exactly that in 1998 and it was in the Morning News, among other places. This is Trumpian in its ignorance of actual facts.

2. He claims that not only did he not do what was alleged, it was he who was the one who was actually trying to protect employees from people engaging in inappropriate conduct.

His first claim, if nothing else, certainly casts doubt on the second.

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Comments

  • DubiousBrother

    “This is Trumpian in its ignorance of actual facts.” His statements seem to be Clintonian in nature where you accuse others of what you have done. I suggest we call in a Russian Special Counsel to investigate the Mavericks which of course will be neutralized when the race card is played.

    • @zaccrain

      This comment is Trumpian in its insistence on bringing the Clintons into everything.

      • PeterTx52

        why even bring Trump into or is this just a manifestation of Trump Derangement Syndrome?

        • @zaccrain

          PeterTx52,

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          hm.

  • Sheryl Kirchner

    Why did you have to make this about Trump? Very Clintonian of you.

    • @zaccrain
    • JamieT

      I’m unaware of a media property Wick Allison has recently had influence with (FrontBurner, The American Conservative – founded by Pat Buchanan, lol) that hasn’t become virulently NeverTrumpian.

      Don’t blame Zac. You wouldn’t want him to end up having to sort turnbuckles behind an orange apron for a living, would you?

      • @zaccrain

        I was a janitor before and I can always be one again, no problem. But hey we can talk about the Mavs down here in these comments if y’all want. No? OK.

        • JamieT

          Actually, you do your best work on FrontBurner when you talk about the Mavs.

          • @zaccrain

            That is probably true. Actually, I’m sure it is. We are agreeing and this feels weird.

          • C Newman

            Nah, their best work is in the comments section.

  • C Newman

    Would subjects of internal investigations alerted to the fact that they are under investigation?

    • @zaccrain

      At the very least, he was asked directly about the investigation and why it was conducted numerous times by reporters around that time, so yes, he would have been aware.

      • C Newman

        Makes sense.
        Would also say that Ussery’s statement makes sense. It is unbelievable; but makes sense that he would use the somewhat common, if not acceptable, response that he was not aware of anything and is just learning about this in the news like everyone else.

        • @zaccrain

          OK, I could maaaaaybe give him the benefit of the doubt if he were specifically referring to anything post-1998. If that’s what he meant.

          • C Newman

            Anchor high.

  • Mavdog

    Ussery is simply applying the age old tact of deny, deny deny and than accuse, accuse, accuse.

    The story in SI says there was a “frat boy” culture at the Mavs HQ. I’m confident this came from the top, and that means Ussery.

    While many fellow commenters seem to take issue with the use of the word “Trumpian”, their anger should not be directed at the writer who employed the word as a euphemism for “Ignore the truth and deny its existence” but instead focus the anger at the person which by their actions birthed its use.

    • Kathy Wise

      Thank you, Mavdog.

    • DubiousBrother

      You are correct Maddog – we need to leave the Clintons and Trump out of this discussion. What do they have to do with sexual abuse or false accusations? Your statement “I’m confident this came from the top, and that means Ussery” confuses me though. I have to admit, I haven’t paid much attention to the Mavs in a long time even though I was an inaugural season ticket holder, but I don’t recall seeing Ussery in Mav highlights sitting in the stands by the team bench and yelling at the refs and ….. It seems to me that you are trying to create a false top in an organization that at best ignored sexual improprieties and at worst encouraged them (“gang rape”). Cuban always wanted to be the face of the franchise – he can’t hide in the shower room now.

      • @zaccrain

        If I may mediate here, I think Mavdog was referring to Ussery as the top of the business side, which is (so far) where most of the toxic atmosphere seems to be located. THAT SAID, I agree with you, DubiousBrother, that Cuban now has to take full responsibility, which he seems to be doing or trying to do, though I feel like he should have been involved earlier. Beyond that, I am interested now in what a league investigation will turn up, since they will have more authority, and what that might mean for the direction of the franchise going forward.

      • Mavdog

        Neither Clinton or Trump were brought into “this discussion”, the word used was “Trumpian” which, as I mentioned, is simply a euphemism for a person making a statement that is obviously false while the speaker appears oblivious to everyone knowing it is false. The fact it has entered our lexicon seems to bother some people, and that in itself is fascinating.

        Mark Cuban is the owner of the team, and it is one of many investments that Cuban has made. Cuban does not spend every day at the team HQ, nor is he running the organization on a day to day basis. While he was employed by the Mavericks that was Terdema Ussery’s job. Ussery was the President and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks. That was clearly “the top” in an operational capacity. If you cannot visualize this corporate org chart let me know. Ussery would be at the top with a line to the side for Cuban as Owner.

        Cuban doesn’t appear to be attempting to “hide in the shower room” and never has. Cuban has been as accessible an owner as exists in professional sports. When and if he is guilty of what you are trying to beat him up him for I’ll be there to criticize that conduct as well, but so far in this saga that has not happened.

  • @zaccrain

    Bob1965,

    I will take this point by point.

    1) I’m most likely a hypocrite but I am not proud of anything except my prowess coaching youth basketball.
    2) I don’t understand the first part of this so I’m gonna skip it.
    3) I’m in step with no one. And the word is “rife,” but I know you were probably typing fast and maybe on a phone.
    4) lol
    5) I did stick to the facts. Question mark.
    6) It is.

    Thanks for jumping into the comments.

  • Sam Merten

    The cutline you wrote now appears on that same photo from the story four years ago. Weird.

    https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2014/july/terdema-ussery-mavs-president-dallas-housing-authority/

  • MattL1

    Zac, given the response to this post, perhaps you should consider using trigger warnings in the future. You seem to have caused a few people a lot of unnecessary consternation.

    • @zaccrain

      MattL1, that is a fair point and it is well taken.

  • Norwegian Blue

    Trumpian???????? Holy eff that is uncalled for and has no place in this article. As for the substance of the matter, I hope Ussery gets his due, and my heart goes out to the women who have had to deal with this stuff. Blows my mind. I trust Cuban to clean house (as he apparently already has begun to do).

    • @zaccrain

      Norwegian Blue,

      Maybe you’re right??????????????? But I stand by it………………

      We agree on the other stuff, for the most part.

      • Norwegian Blue

        “Maybe you’re right,” [full stop] would have been a better response. Conceding a point can be liberating and empowering. You should try it some time.

        • @zaccrain

          OK OK OK, you got me. If I had to do it again, I would have avoided that word, since that has gotten the lion’s share of the focus, instead of what we should be talking about. And that is my fault.

  • OldLakeHighlander

    I had no idea that I could force sex out of my coworkers and watch porn at work all these years with no repercussions, expect maybe a golden parachute and a non-disclosure agreement. Now I’m in my 50’s and horndoging just ain’t my thing. I guess I’ll just have to keep doing my job with honesty and integrity and treat all my co-workers with respect. I had no idea I was such a loser. Thanks for the insight TBJ!

  • boss T

    Here is my question… if he was the CEO, how on earth can he point fingers at the organization for not responding to previous claims, when he’s the freaking boss!?!? So in essence isn’t he just blaming himself?

    • @zaccrain

      boss T,

      Yes.

  • DubiousBrother

    That would be Clintonian – ya know, slick Willie.

  • marty martin

    It’s all about deflecting, it’s Trump fault really. People, it’s Terdema’s fault Zac and nothing to do with Trump. Maybe Cuban is to blame for 20 years of harassment. Seems more reasonable than Trump.

  • Carol B

    This whole situation is just disgusting and so disappointing for my beloved Mavs. An NBA franchise like none other, who has an owner that not only thinks about the bottom line, but supports his players, community and is committed to the fan experience. Cuban has stepped up and has clearly been diligent in making changes within the organization since this whole fiasco started. I have a few names for Ussery, but I will leave the name calling and finger pointing to the others in this comment section. Yes, I’ve been a Mavs fan since the old Reunion Arena days and will continue to cheer on the Mavs, despite the ugly situation behind the scenes. Oh and Zac, you are getting beat up pretty bad today. Hang in there. #MFFL