NBA commissioner critical of Cuban's thoughts on Bryant case

Updated: August 5, 2003, 9:53 PM ET

NEW YORK -- NBA commissioner David Stern criticized Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Tuesday after Cuban said the league can't help but benefit financially from the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case.

"Any suggestion that there will be some economic or promotional benefit to the NBA arising from the charge pending against Kobe Bryant is both misinformed and unseemly," Stern said in a statement issued by the league office.

"That idea does not reflect the views of the NBA, NBA owners generally, or others associated with our sport," Stern said.

Cuban, the most outspoken of the league's 29 owners, has said the NBA is bound to get an economic boost when Bryant returns to the court for the Los Angeles Lakers because it will draw the interest of casual fans and non-fans.

Bryant is due to appear in court Wednesday in Eagle, Colo., where he will be formally informed of the charges against him.

Cuban appeared on the television show "Access Hollywood" on Monday night and said of the case: "From a business perspective, it's great for the NBA. It's reality television, people love train wreck television and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that's the reality today."

He made similar comments to The Associated Press for an article published last week, and he expounded on his belief Tuesday in a 35-minute radio interview in New York and in an e-mail.

"From a business perspective, the UNFORTUNATE REALITY is that in this country notoriety sells. You only need to look at Mike Tyson as the #1 draw in boxing as proof," Cuban wrote. "I went back and tried to find examples in the entertainment business where it hurt. I couldn't."

Cuban went on to explain that the Bryant case is a tragedy for everybody involved, along with their families. Cuban also acknowledged that the economic effect of the Bryant case is a difficult subject to discuss.

"It will draw viewers," Cuban wrote. "I'm not saying this a good thing. I'm not saying it's a positive reflection of who we are as a country. It's just reality. It sells papers, it increases TV ratings. The NBA will benefit from that."

The statement issued by Stern was the commissioner's first public upbraiding of Cuban in a while.

The NBA has fined Cuban more than $1 million since he purchased the team in January 2000, mostly for criticizing referees, but Cuban made it through last season without incurring any fines.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index