Recently retired quarterback Tony Romo has a long history of serving Dallas’ most popular pro sports franchise, the Cowboys. To honor his career, the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks wanted to give him a unique opportunity to be a “Maverick for a Day.”
Team owner Mark Cuban officially signed Romo to a one-day contract, which wasn’t really a big deal since the team was eliminated from playoff contention weeks ago, and the team they were playing on Tuesday night (the Denver Nuggets) are also out of the postseason.
However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly would not allow Romo to actually play in the game, even if just for a few seconds at the end. ESPN reported that Cuban asked Silver for permission, but was told that the NBA would not honor the contract, merely regarding it as ceremonial. Romo took part in pre-game warm ups and sat in full uniform on the bench for the game.
Even when fans chanted “We Want Romo!” late in the fourth quarter, and the rest of the Mavericks roster pushed Romo towards head coach Rick Carlisle, Cuban was forced to drag him back to the bench.
From Dak to Dirk and Romo still can’t get in the game pic.twitter.com/eSSnHMo5uZ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 12, 2017
Romo’s presence on an NBA court isn’t a total insult to the game. He was a legitimate star playing high school basketball, and at 6’2″ and 230 pounds, his natural athleticism might have turned him into a shooting guard in some different timeline.
Cuban defended the decision to honor Romo.
“Anybody who thinks a layup line is disrespectful, hasn’t watched an NBA game,” Cuban said. “We’ve got people shooting half-court shots at every break, we’ve got kids for ball boys … We’re entertainment. And if they’re so self-important they can’t recognize that, it’s on them. Not me.”
Carlisle, meanwhile, at least understood NBA’s reasoning in keeping Romo off the court for an official appearance.
“Signing him and stuff like that, would have been too much for a lot of reasons,” Carlisle said before the game. “No. 1, he’s a football athlete that’s not ready to play in an NBA game. That’s very risky. No. 2, to sign a guy with all of our requirements from a physical standpoint with the hours and hours of screening and all that kinds of other stuff, it just wasn’t worth going there. And that’s not really what this is about.”
Regardless, Romo’s contract with the Mavs has now expired and he can go back to being a retired quarterback and television analyst.