Cuban's fine small price to pay for plug

It is no secret that Mark Cuban wants LeBron James.

How do we know this spicy nugget of information? Well, because he told the entire world this week in an interview with CNNMoney.com.

Surely, there were some disciplinary repercussions to be had here.

Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks' outspoken and outlandish owner, always has done things however he'd like to do them, which tends to add a bit of unnecessary ire to the life of NBA commissioner David Stern.

Cuban's antics have resulted in fines from the commish over a dozen times, resulting in hefty tab that is approaching the $2 million milestone.

Early reports of the figures associated with Saturday's fine for the LeBron comments said that Cuban could be penalized up to $5 million for violating the league's anti-tampering rules.

And not only that, the league could have forbidden him to even pursue James should he become a free agent.

The pieces were in place for another backfire on Cuban, much like ABC's six-episode stud "The Benefactor."

But word came out that Cuban has officially been fined a mere $100,000. That's not even a slap of the wrist. It's more of a poke for the world's first "T-shirt and jeans billionaire."

Simply put, this fine is one small price to pay to not only get away with tampering in the first place, but also to let the premier potential free agent in the history of the world know that Cuban's interested.

It is fairly shocking to see Stern come down so lightly on Cuban. (And especially on Steve Kerr, who was fined just $10,000 for similar comments made on a radio show on May 14).

Whether or not everyone is ready to admit it, James is the face of this league.

Stern should have been doing everything in his power to ensure that this summer of free agency goes according to plan, and here we are with an issue in May before the playoffs have ended and before James has even opted out of his contract with Cleveland.

Stern failed to send the correct message here. What was needed was, for lack of a better word, a stern one.

Luckily for Cuban, this has to speak volumes to LeBron. He might be thinking, "Hey, this guy is willing to get fined to let me know he wants me. I should consider Dallas."

It cost the Mavs practically nothing, and they have nothing to gain but everything.

If this is the case, then bravo, Mark Cuban.