The NBA fined Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban $600,000 on Wednesday for comments he made about tanking during a podcast with Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
Commissioner Adam Silver said the fine was for "public statements detrimental to the NBA." The league said the podcast with Erving was posted Sunday, the day the All-Star game was played in Los Angeles.
The fine was announced a day after the publication of a Sports Illustrated report that detailed allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by former Mavericks team president Terdema Ussery. Cuban said he was embarrassed by the allegations and vowed to improve the club's work environment.
During the 30-minute interview with Erving, Cuban said that he met recently with some of his players and told them "losing is our best option."
"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night," Cuban said. "And here we are. We weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, `Look, losing is our best option.'
Cuban said his comments were an example of him being transparent with his players.
"Adam would hate to be hearing that. But at least I sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans are going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This is like a year and a half of tanking. That was too brutal for me."
The Mavericks dumped veterans Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut around the trading deadline last season and had their highest draft pick (No. 9) since ending up with Dirk Nowitzki from that spot in 1998. They drafted rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., one of the league's rising stars.
After trading veteran guard Devin Harris to Denver at the deadline this season, Dallas (18-40) is tied for the fewest wins in the NBA and among seven teams with 18 or 19 victories at the All-Star break.
The latest fine surpasses the $500,000 Cuban was docked in 2002 for criticizing former director of officials Ed Rush, saying he wouldn't hire Rush to manage a Dairy Queen. Cuban has been fined more than $2 million, a lot of it for criticizing refs.
"I earned it," Cuban told The Associated Press when asked about the latest fine. "I got excited talking to Dr. J and said something I shouldn't have."
The Sports Illustrated report depicted the Mavericks front office as a hostile workplace for women. Ussery, who spent 18 years with the team before leaving in 2015, was accused of making sexually suggestive remarks to several female employees. Ussery, who was investigated by the team over similar claims in 1998, denied the allegations in a statement to SI.
SI also reported that Earl Sneed, a reporter for the team website, was twice accused of domestic assault while working for the Mavericks, including a guilty plea in a case that was dismissed when he met the conditions of the agreement.
The team said Sneed had been fired, and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told SI that he fired human resources director Buddy Pittman after learning details of the magazine's report. Pittman and Sneed declined to comment to SI.
The NBA said the Mavericks had informed the league of the allegations involving Ussery and Sneed.
"This alleged conduct runs counter to the steadfast commitment of the NBA and its teams to foster safe, respectful and welcoming workplaces for all employees," the league said. "Such behavior is completely unacceptable and we will closely monitor the independent investigation into this matter."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.