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Stern fines Dan Gilbert $100,000 for LeBron letter

Jul 12, 2010, 8:08 PM EDT

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David Stern has just announced that he will fine Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert $100,000 for his open letter to Cleveland fans, which Gilbert wrote shortly after LeBron James announced on ESPN that he would sign with the Miami Heat. When explaining the fine, Stern called Gilbert’s letter both “ill-advised” and “imprudent.” 
Stern was not a fan of the way LeBron’s decision was produced, but he did say that players are “within their rights to sign with any team,” which likely explains why he fined Gilbert for his letter. The money won’t mean much to Gilbert, but Stern’s condemnation of his actions must feel like a dash of salt in what was clearly a very deep wound for him. 
349 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Al - Jul 13, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Yes, I am from North East Ohio. I agree that LeBron had everyright to leave and if he thinks that going to Miami gives him the best path to a championship, fine it’s his decision to make. It would have still stung but life goes on. But going on national TV and humiliating the area of the country you call home just to satisfy your own ego is what has upset people. Just to put it in perspective, how would Miami have felt if Dan Marino had gone on national TV and dropped the bomb that he wouldn’t resign with the Dolphins, but he was going to Detriot to play with Barry Sanders becuase he had a better chance to win a championship. Now be honest, you don’t think you would act the same way…and Marino wasn’t even from Miami.
    I don’t want to hear about James “just being a kid”. He’s 25 with children of his own. He’s not a kid. Don’t make excuses for him making poor choices. If you do Miami, he’ll never learn from them and his behavior will become your problem. But he he isn’t the only bad guy here – Dan Gilbert enabled him and fostered his feeling of entitlement grow. He built the team’s new $25 million training facility less than 10 miles from LeBron’s house, just so it would be easier for him to make team practices. It’s about 25 miles from Cleveland in Independance, Ohio. ESPN also is complicite. They put this thing on the air and made a ton of money. No not all went to charity, less than half did. but they are speaking out of all sides of their mouth. Some of their talking heads are rightlyfully ripping Lebron, but not accepting any accepting any of the blame for the specticle themselves. Others are just saying ohh he’s a kid..excusing his bad behavior and also keeping their way too coozy relationship with him. Can’t upset the mealticket. Others, like Stuart Scott, wanna wrap themselves in the superthin charity blaket and want to say that it’s ok to burn Cleveland because it would’ve ruined the surprise. Sorry for the ramble but, just remember that he could turn and burn you if he signs a short deal.

  2. vigo - Jul 13, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Wow, what’s with the capitalized words?

  3. FredinNW - Jul 13, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Screw you Pete, Kim is correct, YOU have no idea.

  4. Wayne - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Read the 1st Amendment to the Constitution and then still say he should fine him. Gilbert expressed his opinion as is his right in this country.

  5. wayne - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    I’m no Constitutional theorist, so I don’t claim to be an expert. You said “However, any organization – non-profit can fine its members, excommunicate them, or remove them from membership per their rules (including rules of decorum).” In general this may be true, but still subject to a civil suit for infringement of free speech. I think there is another difference because the NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL are monopolies subject to direct Congressional control. So, infringing on free speech here is prohibited because Congress cannot allow it.

  6. Stewart - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Gilbert’s letter was self-defense PR to placate fans, Gilbert shows he feels the fans pain and will gladly pay the fine as the cost of doing business. It also gives him cover for the next season to rebuild post Lebron, on the plus side having Byron Scott as head coach should help.
    As for Lebron if he didn’t quit during the Celtic series then Miami better hope Wade can hit every big shot down the stretch.

  7. BIG LEE - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Right on the MONEY, keep on with the Lebron show when the next NBA season ends it will be a LAKERS 3-PEAT. Lakers fans rejoyce. now everyone back to work we are not RICH.

  8. Anonymous - Jul 13, 2010 at 9:52 AM

    Freedom of speech is a right yes, but it can’t defame any one’s character! That is illegal…

  9. Anonymous - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Mark Cuban openly supported Gilbert’s comments, said they were completely accurate and gave Gilbert “a standing ovation”. Is Stern going to fine Cuban?
    LeBron James said, “Now I know I made the right choice” when he heard about Gilbert’s letter. An inflammatory opinion. Is Stern going to fine James?
    It’s a slippery slope when you use “power as commissioner” to fine someone for expressing their opinion. Gilbert did not say something that broke league rules. He did not tamper with free agency. He expressed his opinion. Stern will regret this.

  10. Anonymous - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    He won’t need to. That’s what Chris Bosh and Mike Miller are for. Get over it!

  11. Lev-el head - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:06 AM

    Lev, your perspective is quite interesting for a moron and proof that watching this millionaire circus is part of what ruins kids these days. Quoting you:
    “Those team owners milk black athletes of their youth and talent, press them like an orange, and don’t care when they go broke or end up in trouble, or on the streets.”
    So with all the money Lebron has, if he goes broke the team owner should feel sorry for him? Any pro athlete that makes more money than most working stiffs and spends beyond their means should be felt sorry for? They have all the resources they need to hire the people to make the right decisions. They also have the resources to go back to school and learn how to manage the money on their own. They also have the resources to completely screw up their lives as so many athletes have done throughout the years. Look at Tiger, no fat cat owner paid him, he had to earn his money by winning. Now because of the stupid mistakes he made he is going to lose half that money and this is a college educated man. But lets blame the owner of the business for the stupidity of pro athletes. Michael Vick couldn’t live a normal event free life with his millions, he had to help his brothers make some money by supplying financing and property to kill dogs. The owner should have stepped in feeling sorry for this idiot? Kobe puts himself in a situation that he could have easily avoided by just paying for a hooker, same as Tiger. This isn’t an issue that is exclusive to the black man. There are plenty of broke former white athletes too and as we can see Ben Rothlesburger is making sure white folk keep up with the stupidity.
    How much money does a person deserve to play basketball, baseball, football? How much coddling do they deserve on top of that? LeBron James had all the right in the world to play for whoever he wanted to play for. That is a given and what free agency is all about. When you are a “fat cat” owner who had to kiss this kids ass for the last five years just to have him take a dump in your lap, that is what this issue is about. Dan Gilbert is smart enough to own a mortgage company and an NBA basketball team among other business endeavors, he is smart enough to know that his wonder boy might leave town. After paying him well and kissing his ass for five years, didn’t he deserve just a little respect and maybe a phone call from James himself a little sooner than a couple minutes before his announcement? Half the press was still leaning toward his staying in Cleveland until the last 48 hours of Egofest 2010.
    James took the easy and pressure free way out. In Cleveland he got all the accolades but also bore the brunt when things went wrong. He did this in a city that is desperate for a championship so the pressure he dealt with is something you and I can’t fathom. Now he has two all-stars to deflect the attention to. He is playing in a town that really doesn’t give a damn if they make it to the playoffs or not. Sandy beaches and pressure free basketball. He doesn’t have to win for a championship starved city, he doesn’t have to put up with the NY press, he doesn’t have to live in Jordan’s shadow. Just show up with your buddies, play some ball and collect a paycheck.
    When you are an 18 year old kid, making a billion dollars and becoming the best of all time are serious goals. When you are 25 and have been doing it for seven years and playing competitive year round 750 million sounds like a good enough number. He is never going to achieve the brand status of Jordan because as great as Jordan was he wasn’t quite as egotistical as NoRing James. This is a kid that people say didn’t have enough talent surrounding him, best record in the league two years in a row and he didn’t have enough talent? Superstars can carry a team when they have to, since the fourth quarter against Detroit a few years back, when have you seen LeLose carry “his” team in the post season? Jordan was able to do it when he needed to. Jordan wasn’t a saint but he also never felt he was above the league which is exactly what LeBrat is conveying.

  12. wayne - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:10 AM

    Expressing an opinion is not defamation of character. And it’s not illegal. If James thinks he has been slandered, he can file a civil suit against Gilbert / Cavs. It could be a civil issue, but not criminal. In re-reading Gilbert’s letter, there is only opinion. And opinion is protected in general by Freedom of Speech. The rules are slightly different because of the NBA monopoly and commissioner rules. However, even that commissioner is responsible to both the owners and Congress – yep, Congress. Congress is supposed to uphold freedom of speech, so it should be interesting.

  13. NolitaRene - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Thank God for college basketball

  14. gramaw - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    Ozzi, how old are you? You must be in primary school to make a comment like that. Look around and see how many states are in the same situation with unemployment and government assistance.
    I live in Northeast Ohio. I have watched LeBron play in high school. I have seen the great things he has done in the area. While I do agree that he has the right to play where he chooses, he should have been up front from the beginning and not made such a media event of it. A little class was all he needed to show.
    All professional sports with the exception of golf (where you have to qualify to get paid) are becoming nothing but a circus of overpaid athletes. The owners of all the sports teams are to blame as are fans who continue to pay the exorbitant prices to watch them.

  15. OnwardUpward - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    In my opinion if Lebron made a phone call to the Cavs before he said it on TV it would not have made a difference; DG and the rest of Cleveland would still have had this reaction. It may have eased the blow but it would still be a blow that was (is) difficult to deal with. In my opinion, DG’s arrogance would have still lead him to send out that type of letter. Lebron or any player has the right to cheer for teams they like!!! Cleveland get over it, it’s last week news already. OH by the way congrats on the HUGE donation (2.5 million) that was given to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of America in Akron & Cleveland from LEBRON’s “THE DECISION” program on ESPN. This was tremendous seeing that the Boys & Girls clubs have been closing in record numbers due to lack of support and money. If you don’t know anything about the Boys & Girls Club look it up!!!! We have had 4 close in our city. Most of these clubs benefit kids who don’t have access to facilities where they can play and learn in a safe environment. But I guess you don’t care about benefiting those who are less fortunate in your city; only how Cleveland has not won a championship. I feel your superficial pain :( On a lighter note the 2010-2011 NBA season will be very interesting…can’t wait.

  16. It's Me - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Stern is an idiot. And so is James.

  17. $$$$Boy - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    Dan Gilbert is a businessman, just like every other owner in the NBA. LeCon adds about 150 million to the value of your business. Gilbert had little choice – by not offering him a deal he’s down the 150 M plus he looks like that A-hole not LeCon.

  18. Ol' Smithy - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    He wants to win a national championship, that is why he left Cleveland. The reason why the coach and the fans are so upset is because James was the best chance Cleveland had to win a national title. It’s like that movie the Waterboy… “Oh no!! We Suk again!”

  19. Pr1vateye - Jul 13, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    So many great opinions out there. I would have to say that this type of annoucement and public display was not needed. He was well within his right to go to another team. But, the bigger picture needs to be looked at. If he had stayed in Cleveland next season, he did not have the supporting cast to win a championship. Thats just a fact! You have a great coach in Bryon Scott, however, new strategy and plays to learn.
    LeBron needs to look at how the greats of the past carried themselves. Jordan, Magic and Bird respected the league and have found great success after basketball. His legacy will be defined on this move. Miami is stacking the deck but can they jell together?
    Looking forward to the 2010 season!

  20. GO TRIBE - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Simply amazing you bring up the race card. It is the only one I have seen on here. Are you really Jesse Jackson or simply somebody else that thinks everything is about race?
    By the way what race are you?
    THE NBA SUCKS ANYWAY.

  21. Crzy Joe - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    U r so right!!! I wouldn’t be surprised if any baller with a half decent jump shot would ever come to Cleveland to play for this team after this mess! I heard on the radio that folks are driving by LeBron’s house and SHOOTING at it!! What nutcakes!! THIS IS ABOUT BASKETBALL people, not WWWIII — Get over it!! You Clevelanders act like LeBron broke up with you at the altar or something!! And how the OWNER acted……man, anyone with any skills would be a FOOL to play for Cleveland after that! I bet he’ll loose the few he has there now when their contracts expire. Make this a lesson to you folks out there, it’s just a game — your mortgage is important, your kids are important, your parents are important, a basketball game is a GAME.

  22. Calm Down - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    David Sterns fines every African-Americans for far less. LeBron is still a kid. If he wants to spread his wings, he should be allowed to do so. Are these owners showing loyalty when they fire players and coaches when teams don’t win the Championships or make it to the finals? Do you think they care about wives and children being uprooted? Gilbert is mad because he lost his “Cash Cow”. LeBron was a free-agent not a run-away slave.

  23. nina - Jul 13, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Dan Gilbert is just pissed off because Lebron will no longer make his pockets and bank accout phat anymore. There will be no large crowds in Cleveland at all. It will be a ghost town for sure. Thats why Gilbert said what he said. Lebron brought money into the city. Now he’s gone and he did what he had to do and what was best for him and his family. Because of Gilberts unprofessional comment and his selfish attiude, no one will want to ever play for Cleveland. He cursed the team, the city of Cleveland and himself because of his actions.

  24. Shelly B. - Jul 13, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    I totally agree! In addition, didn’t the Boys & Girls Club make money by the proceeds being donated by LJ’s televised decision? I think it was a worthy cause.
    To the Cleveland fans(?), don’t hate!

  25. Otter - Jul 13, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    Further proof that the thugs control the league…..and why I spend my discretionary income on other pursuits.

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