Dirk Nowitzki, who holds virtually every career record in Dallas Mavericks history, said he was stunned to hear accusations of serial sexual harassment in the team's offices.
Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that numerous female employees were propositioned, verbally mistreated and touched inappropriately by former Mavericks president and CEO Terdema Ussery. The club fired human resources director Buddy Pittman this week after hearing that employees said Pittman was unresponsive in relation to charges against Ussery.
The Mavericks also fired a website employee who was involved in two domestic-violence incidents.
Nowitzki, a 39-year-old forward who is in his 20th season with the team, spoke about the situation following the Mavericks' practice Wednesday in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California.
"It's tough. It's very disappointing. It's heartbreaking," he said. "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.
"Really, really disappointed that our franchise, that my franchise, that stuff like that was going on. 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 added Wednesday, "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. 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."
The team's investigation will be headed by Evan Krutoy, a former Manhattan prosecutor, and Anne Milgram, a former New Jersey attorney general.
"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," Carlisle said. "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 can tell you that when it comes to anything involving the Mavericks, Mark Cuban is a strong believer in extreme ownership, extreme accountability."
Earlier Wednesday, Cuban told ESPN that he was solely responsible for keeping former Mavericks.com reporter Earl K. Sneed on the team's payroll. Sneed pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend in 2012, then was accused of hitting a separate female co-worker in 2014, according to the SI report.
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