NBA Commissioner David Stern fined Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert $100,000 for his scathing letter to LeBron James following the basketball star's decision to leave his hometown and move to the Miami Heat, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported late Monday.
Stern also criticized Rev. Jesse Jackson’s comments that suggested Gilbert saw James as a "runaway slave," and he questioned James’ decision to announce his choice on television.
Gilbert reacted with fury after James announced his decision to leave Cleveland on a live one-hour ESPN special last week.
"You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal," Gilbert wrote to fans. "You have given so much and deserve so much more."
Speaking after the NBA's summer Board of Governors meeting at The Palms Casino in Las Vegas, Stern said Gilbert's remarks were "ill-advised and imprudent," The Plain Dealer reported.
"I think Dan Gilbert is a good owner and I think he was completely correct in expressing his disappointment and his determination to win," Stern said, but he added that Gilbert's reaction was "a little bit to the extreme."
The penalty is the most the Cavaliers have been publicly fined in Gilbert's five-year tenure.
"Equally imprudent are the remarks by my good friend Jesse Jackson, which purport to make this into a racial matter," Stern said. "And I find that, however well meaning Jesse may be with the premise on this, mistaken."
In an open letter posted on the Rainbow PUSH Coalition website on Sunday, Jackson said Gilbert's "feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality."
Stern also directed criticism toward James, saying that while James was within his rights to discuss his decision with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, he received "poor" advice on how he announced his choice.
"I would have advised (James) not to embark on what became known as 'The Decision.' I think the advice he received on this was poor," Stern said. "His performance was fine. His honesty and his integrity shine through. But his decision was ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed."
Stern said James should have advised the Cavaliers in advance that he was leaving.