Rule changes help boost scoring

Mark Cuban's influence might be doing the league's officials some good after all. How ironic, then, that his suggestions might make it harder for his team to win a title.

Allow me to explain. The owner of the aptly named Mavericks has complained vociferously about the state of officiating ever since he bought the team with his Internet riches back in 2000. His greatest hits include stating that then-supervisor of officials Ed Rush wasn't qualified to run a Dairy Queen, and that the refs choked when they ejected Juwan Howard for his infamous pancake-flip of San Antonio's Derek Anderson in the 2001 playoffs. Those infractions liberated more than a million dollars from Cuban's bank account, a total that might be going higher this week after he went ballistic over a blown call at the end of Dallas' 124-123 loss to Phoenix on Saturday.

Yet Cuban has had one very positive influence on the state of officiating -- encouraging the league's use of the refs to open up the game. From an entrepreneurial perspective, Cuban realized a more open-court game with higher scoring would create a more fan-friendly product. As Randy Galloway reported this week in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas owner pushed hard for the league to open the game up by cracking down on contact on the perimeter.