Brown fined for criticizing officials

CLEVELAND -- Mike Brown went to the All-Star game with less spending money.

Cleveland's coach was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Thursday for publicly criticizing referee Joey Crawford following the Cavaliers' last-second loss at Indiana earlier this week.

Although league disciplinarian Stu Jackson said in a release that Brown had been fined for comments made about "the officials," Brown's postgame tirade was directed at Crawford, who whistled LeBron James for a foul on Pacers forward Danny Granger in the final second. Crawford felt James made contact with Granger, who sank one free throw to give Indiana a 96-95 win.

Brown claimed Crawford made a predetermined -- or makeup -- call against James, who had been involved in a similar play moments earlier when Granger was whistled for a foul while trying to defend an alley-oop pass intended for James.

On Wednesday, Brown, who like many coaches has had his share of run-ins with Crawford, stood by his comments and said he expected to be assessed his first fine as a head coach.

Following the loss in Indiana, Brown watched replays of the controversial finish before venting his anger toward Crawford.

"I cannot imagine another worse call than that. LeBron was between his man and the basket. He went up in the air when the ball was tipped, and for that official to predetermine his call was awful," Brown said. "It was awful. That's why we lost the game. I never blame the officials. But that call was a predetermined call and he should have swallowed his whistle on it. But he did not.

"I don't care if I get fined. It is what it is. I saw the two plays, a bad call determined the outcome of the game. If they want to fine me for telling the truth, fine me."

Before Cleveland's win over Phoenix on Wednesday, Brown declined to again discuss his rant but didn't back down from his belief that the Cavs were robbed.

"I said what I said," Brown said. "I agree with what I said."

Last week, the league fined Boston coach Doc Rivers $15,000 for "abuse of game officials." Sacramento's Reggie Theus was fined $25,000 in November for the same offense as Brown.

Brown has felt the need to lobby for James more often this season. The Cavaliers feel their superstar does not get the preferential treatment awarded some of the game's top players. In fact, Brown has said he feels James doesn't get as many calls as he should partly because at his size -- 6-foot-8, 260 pounds -- officials have a tough time differentiating between contact and a foul.

The Cavaliers pride themselves on being a "no-excuse" team, but Brown said he will continue to stand up for his team when he feels it's necessary.

"But I have to be careful how I say it so it does not impact the team in a negative way," Brown said. "It is a fine line, but if we really are a no-excuse team, which we have been, then I've got to make sure I'm leading us down that path."

Cleveland has been assessed 29 technicals -- not including defensive 3-second violations -- this season, but Brown doesn't feel that he or the Cavaliers have become overly combative or confrontational.

Before a Dec. 9 game in Cleveland, Crawford seemed annoyed as the Cavaliers went through their pregame ritual when James tosses hand powder into the air. Crawford then called three technicals on Cleveland during a five-minute span in the first half.

"I think the officials in the NBA are all very good officials," Brown said. "I don't have a problem with any of them and I'm pretty sure none of them have a problem with me."

James said it's tricky to know when to complain and when to walk away.

"You have to know the time of the game and if it is the right situation to voice your opinion," James said. "You also have to know what refs you are dealing with, some you can talk to a lot better than you can with others. You have to know what crew is out there. Some you can't talk to at all.

"It's a limited pack [to talk with]. I try to be respectful out there and I try to know their names and respect them as I would wanted to be respected. But there's definitely a few of them that you just can't really talk to."