What a mess.
NBA Commissioner David Stern fined Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert $100,000 on Monday for the scathing letter he published after former Cavs star LeBron James announced he was heading to the Miami Heat next season.
Stern also rapped James for last week's spectacle on ESPN, as well as Rev. Jesse Jackson, who caused an uproar over the weekend by suggesting that Gilbert (pictured) has a "slave master mentality" and views his former star as a "runaway slave."
Sounding at times like a reluctant school principal, Stern seemed embarrassed by the need to admonish three critically important constituents: a league owner, a civil-rights leader, and the NBA's biggest star.
During a press conference at the NBA owners' meeting in Las Vegas Monday, Stern called Gilbert's comments "ill-advised and imprudent." Minutes after James's decision last week, Gilbert accused James of a "shameful display of selfishness and betrayal."
"I have notified Cleveland that they will be fined $100,000 for those remarks, under my power as Commissioner," Stern said.
Stern also has some choice words for James, calling last week's ESPN special during which he unveiled his decision "ill-conceived, poorly produced and badly executed."
"Had he asked my advice in advance I might have suggested that he advise Cleveland at an earlier time than he apparently did that he was leaving," Stern said. "And I would have advised him not to embark on what has become known as 'The Decision.' I think that the advice that he received on this was poor."
Addressing Jackson's Statement
But Stern wasn't done. He went on to address a controversy that flared over the weekend, after Rev. Jesse Jackson issued a statement blasting Gilbert in racially charged terms.
"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers," Jackson said of Gilbert. "His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave."
Stern said that Jackson, like Gilbert, had gone too far. "Equally imprudent, I believe, are the remarks of my good friend Jesse Jackson which purport to make this into a racial matter," Stern said. "However well-meaning Jesse may be, on the premises on this one, he is, as he rarely is, mistaken."
For his part, Gilbert issued a statement saying, "I strongly disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent comments, and we are not going to engage in any related discussion on it. Going forward, we're very excited about the Cavaliers and the positive future of our region."
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