Mark Cuban praises dunk defenders

DALLAS -- Mark Cuban believes the two NBA players who have been on the receiving end of the most ridicule this month deserve credit for not being cowards.

Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Knight and Boston Celtics guard Jason Terry have been mocked relentlessly due to their failed attempts to challenge monstrous slams by DeAndre Jordan and LeBron James, respectively.

Knight and Terry ended up flat on their backs and trending on Twitter, sparking debate about which alley-oop was most humiliating for the hopeless defender.

Cuban, however, cites those highlights as examples of Knight and Terry playing the game the right way.

"I think it's the gutless who worry about what they look like in posters," Cuban said Wednesday, before his Dallas Mavericks' game against the Brooklyn Nets. "I think it's the real guys, the real players who have no problem playing the game and come what may.

"I give credit to Brandon Knight; I give credit to [Terry]. You do your job and not care about the posters or the tweets. Those are the kind of guys that teams want."

Cuban offered similar praise for Knight in the aftermath of Jordan's dunk March 10. But Cuban really made a point to back Terry, who spent eight seasons with the Mavs before leaving for Boston in free agency this summer.

Terry's refusal to back down from any situation is one of the things that endeared him to Cuban and others in Dallas.

Perhaps the most famous example was after the Mavs fell behind 2-1 to the Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals, with Terry being shut out by James in the fourth quarter of both losses.

Terry declared the next day that he wanted to see James defend him like that for an entire seven-game series. Terry averaged 20 points per game in the next three contests and sank a clutch 28-footer over James to seal the Game 5 win, as the Mavs won the franchise's lone title.

"[Terry] has got almost carte blanche," said Cuban, who mentioned that Mavs fans should give Terry a standing ovation when the Celtics come to the American Airlines Center on Friday.

That doesn't make it a wise move for the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Terry to try to challenge the 6-foot-8, 250-pound James, does it?

"I don't know what his plan was, but his plan certainly wasn't to avoid whatever it was [James] wanted to do," Cuban said. "And I give him credit for that. If he was trying to take a charge, that's one thing. If he was going straight up and down -- you can create contact and it's still not a foul -- that's a way you might stop him. If he got caught in between, that's what happens.

"At least he didn't back down. He deserves credit for that."