LOS ANGELES -- In the wake of a Sports Illustrated investigation that detailed a culture of misogyny and predatory behavior in the Dallas Mavericks organization, the team's longtime star, Dirk Nowitzki, responded Wednesday, calling the allegations "truly, truly disgusting."
"It's tough," Nowitzki said after the team practiced at USC in advance of a Friday game against the Los Angeles Lakers. "It's very disappointing. It's heartbreaking. I'm glad it's all coming out. I was disgusted when I read the article, obviously, as everybody was. I was shocked about some of the stuff."
Former Mavericks president and CEO Terdema Ussery has been accused of multiple acts of inappropriate behavior toward female employees during his 18 years with the team, according to the report. Employees say complaints were ignored by the head of human resources as well as superiors. Ussery, who was investigated by the team after similar claims in 1998, denied the allegations in a statement to SI.
The Mavericks issued a statement saying they are investigating, and the NBA says it has been informed. The team also said it fired website reporter Earl K. Sneed for misleading the team about a domestic violence incident.
"So really, really disappointed that our franchise, that my franchise, that stuff like that was going on," Nowitzki said. "It's very sad and disappointing. But I think [Mavericks owner Mark Cuban] is trying to step up and lead this franchise to the right direction, and that is hiring investigators, finding out all the little details that we have to know as a franchise what really was going on. I think Mark is going to step up here. ...
"As a franchise, obviously, we feel bad for the victims and for what happened to some of these ladies. Like I said, it's truly, truly disgusting. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with some of these victims."
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle also responded to the Sports Illustrated report for the first time since it was published Tuesday.
"First of all, I'm grateful we live in a place in time where people have the courage to speak up about things like this," Carlisle said. "I also have a 13-year-old daughter, and I want her to know that it's both brave and safe to speak out, and that's very important to me, and it should be important to everybody. What I can tell you is there is going to be a thorough investigation into this from an outside group led by two people at the top of their profession."
The investigation will be conducted by Krutoy Law, a New York firm led by Evan Krutoy, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney's office who had a stint as the acting bureau chief of the city's sex crimes unit.
Anne Milgram, a former New Jersey attorney general whose law practice focuses on white-collar crime and government investigations, will be the lead investigator in consultation with Krutoy Law.
"They're going to do a very in-depth investigation," Carlisle said. "They're going to talk to everybody in the organization, and they're going to find out the how, the why and the best way to resolve this. An outside party was brought in so there would be no local influence or anything like that. And these people are the best of the best. Their findings are going to go directly to Mark Cuban and [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver, and the Mavericks will abide by whatever recommendations are made.
"I'll tell you that when it comes to anything involving the Mavericks: Mark Cuban is a believer in extreme ownership, extreme accountability, and he is highly motivated to get this resolved in an expeditious but thorough fashion. No steps will be skipped here."
Added Carlisle: "Things happen for a reason. Any problem or crisis presents an opportunity, and this is an opportunity for us to get something fixed."
The Sports Illustrated story quoted one former female staffer as saying that the team's actual locker room was a refuge from the locker room culture elsewhere in the organization.
"We always have a good group of guys in the locker room, and we love having fun," Nowitzki said. "We enjoy each other's company, but we also respect one another. We respect females and our male co-workers. Whatever happened on the business side, I can't really comment on."