DALLAS -- The NBA magnified the size of Sean Heath’s microphone by about a millionfold by taking it away from the previously rather anonymous Dallas Mavericks public address announcer for two games.
UPDATE: The suspension has been rescinded, according to a source, with the league opting to fine the Mavs $25,000.
Before ESPNDallas.com broke the news of Heath’s two-game suspension for ref-ripping tweets, his Twitter account had a grand total of 253 followers. Heath’s whining after the Mavs’ April 1 overtime loss was merely a drip in the social media ocean.
It’s a thunderstorm now. The story of Heath’s suspension has been tweeted thousands of times, including by the ESPN NBA account that has more than a million followers. It’s an offbeat story that will be discussed on countless TV and radio shows across the country.
If the NBA office intended to silence talk about the league’s “reputation that the games are rigged,” to use Heath’s most inflammatory words, this was one of the worst ways to do it.
That’s not to let Heath totally off the hook. His marching orders from Mark Cuban are to be as passionate a homer as possible while he’s riling up the American Airlines Center crowds, but that passion got the best of him after his official duties ended following the Mavs’ April Fools' Day heartbreaker.
Heath was right about Danny Crawford’s blown no-call on what should have been a go-ahead goaltend by Golden State center Jermaine O'Neal, but it wasn’t exactly wise to publicly pick a fight with the NBA about it, no matter how small the audience. Better to leave that to the billionaire boss. (I didn’t start following Heath until last night, but I doubt his tweets were so harsh after the two instances in which critical blown calls late in games benefited the Mavs this season.)
But it wasn’t wise for the NBA to play the role of the hypersensitive bully, either. A stern warning from the NBA office wouldn’t have blown up in the media, but it’s a safe bet that the message would have gotten through loud and clear to Heath, a usually mild-mannered man when he isn't screaming into a microphone.
And it wouldn’t have been shared with the world.