LAS VEGAS, July 12 (UPI) -- The NBA fined Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert $100,000 Monday for harshly criticizing LeBron James' decision to leave the team as a free agent.
Commissioner David Stern told NBA.com Monday at an owners meeting in Las Vegas that Gilbert's open letter to Cleveland fans -- released last week after James' move to join the Miami Heat -- was "a little bit extreme," and as a result, the owner been fined.
After James announced his decision Thursday as part of an elaborately produced hourlong special on ESPN, Gilbert posted an open letter on the Cavaliers' Web site accusing James of a "cowardly betrayal" and a "shocking act of disloyalty."
That in turn prompted U.S. civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson to respond Sunday by blasting Gilbert, saying his letter indicates he "sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract."
"Those engaged in this public arena must look upon workers with respect and shared dignity," Jackson told the Detroit Free Press during a visit to United Auto Workers' headquarters Monday.
"I strongly disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent comments and we are not going to engage in any related discussion on it," Gilbert said in a statement Monday.
Stern said Jackson's "slave" comment went too far.
"However well-meaning Jesse may be in the premise on this one, he is, as he rarely is, mistaken," Stern told NBA.com. "And I would have told him so had he called me before he issued his statement, rather than this morning. But he is a good friend of the NBA and our players."