Gilbert fined $100K for James comments

Updated: July 13, 2010, 11:04 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert got in another word about the messy, heartbreaking split with LeBron James.

He promised it's his last one.

It had better be or NBA commissioner David Stern could fine him another $100,000.

Gilbert I strongly disagree with Rev. Jesse Jackson's recent comments and we are not going to engage in any related discussion on it.

-- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert

On Monday, Gilbert said he strongly disagrees with Rev. Jesse Jackson's criticism of his recent comments about James, who announced last week he was leaving Cleveland after seven seasons to join fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.

Shortly after James' announcement, Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cavs fans, vilifying the 25-year-old and calling his decision to bolt Cleveland as "narcissistic" and "cowardly behavior." He also guaranteed his team would win an NBA title "BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE."

Gilbert took it a step further when he later told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he felt the NBA's two-time MVP quit on the Cavs during the playoffs the past two years, and that James "has gotten a free pass." He also said James should be held accountable for his actions.

Jackson responded to Gilbert's remarks on Sunday by saying the Cavs owner sees James as a "runaway slave" and that Gilbert's comments put the player in danger.

"He speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers," Jackson said in a release from his Chicago-based civil-rights group. "His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship -- between business partners -- and LeBron honored his contract."

In a statement released by the team on Monday, Gilbert tried to put an end to the issue.

"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. "Going forward, we're very excited about the Cavaliers and the positive future of our region."

Gilbert is attending the owners' meetings in Las Vegas, where Stern fined him $100,000 for the "inappropriate" comments about James.

"He was completely correct in expressing his disappointment," Stern said, adding that Gilbert's statement and the sentiments he expressed in a follow-up interview with the AP were "a little bit extreme."

Stern also said Jackson is a friend and ally to the league, but as with Gilbert, felt the reaction simply went too far.

"However well-meaning Jesse may be in the premise on this one, he is, as he rarely is, mistaken," Stern said. "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. Has worked arduously on many good causes and we work together in many matters."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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