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Mark Cuban reacts to a call as the Mavericks play the Portland Trail Blazers in Dallas in January. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks owner and "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban, who quickly announced that he'd pay workers "as if the games happened" during the NBA shutdown, spoke with Axios by email yesterday.

The big picture: The cancellation of sports due to the coronavirus — the NBA, March Madness, MLB spring training and more — is what has hit some Americans the hardest, serving as a reality check as to just how serious this situation is.

Based on what you currently know, what do you predict will happen with the rest of the NBA season?

  • "As long as we can keep our players and staffs healthy and see a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, I think it's likely we play some regular season games and then the playoffs."

You were the first NBA owner to announce a payment plan for hourly employees. Are you surprised some of your fellow owners have yet to announce similar plans?

  • "I'm not going to judge what others do. This is a time when we can show some compassion for the circumstances we all are in and help each other out. Just because someone doesn't make an announcement doesn't mean they are not helping in 100 other ways."

How do you think Adam Silver has handled the coronavirus situation?

  • "He handled it exactly right. All CEOs are working with imperfect information, as all of us are. In this type of situation you adapt based on the data you receive. That is exactly what happened. I'm proud of how we handled it."

What role do sports organizations play in a situation like this?

  • "Sports has a unique role in our communities. It's something people rally around and can bring them so much joy and excitement. That's not something a regular company can do, so we will have to be an agile organization, ready to take on the important role of moving the community forward."

What should teams and athletes be doing during this sports outage to stay connected with fans and provide a sense of normalcy?

  • "You are going to see a social media explosion — Twitch streams, TikTok dances — as players deal with their own boredom and further connect with fans. As for the Mavericks, once things start to normalize, we're discussing having clinics to get kids out and exercising."

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin thinks the NBA season should start in December and end in August — and we might get a preview of the "end in August" part this summer. Would you support Koonin's proposal?

  • "I've been asking for this for 10 years. Our broadcast partners have resisted because HUT (Households Using Television) is lower in the summer. But the TV landscape has changed, and Steve knows that industry well. I think his timing on this idea is great."

For bored sports fans in need of recommendations: What are your favorite sports movies?

  • "The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Love & Basketball, Space Jam and every 30 for 30."

Go deeper

34 mins ago - Health

The floodgates have opened for vaccine mandates

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State governments, private businesses and even part of the federal government are suddenly embracing mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for their employees.

Why it matters: Vaccine mandates have been relatively uncommon in the U.S. But with vaccination rates stagnating and the Delta variant driving yet another wave of cases, there's been a new groundswell of support for such requirements.

Ina Fried, author of Login
34 mins ago - Sports

Axios at the Olympics: Softball on the brink

Cat Osterman, pitching here against Japan on Monday, came out of retirement to play in the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: ina Fried

TOKYO – When the U.S. and Japan take the field in Yokohama on Tuesday, they are playing for more than just a gold medal. As badly as both teams want to win, they also want to show the world their sport deserves a permanent place in the Olympics.

Why it matters: Softball is returning to the Olympics after a 12-year absence, but its long-term Olympic future is uncertain, with the sport not part of the 2024 Games in Paris and plans up in the air after that.

Updated 58 mins ago - Sports

Naomi Osaka eliminated from Olympic Games tennis tournament

Czech 42nd-ranked Marketa Vondrousova (L) shakes hands with Japan's Naomi Osaka after their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on Tuesday. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP via Getty Images

Naomi Osaka was eliminated from the Olympics Games after losing her Tokyo tennis tournament match 6-1, 6-4 in the third round to Czech Marketa Vondrousova on Tuesday.

Of note: Japan's Osaka is the women's world No. 2, while is Vondrousova ranked No.42.