Cuban fined $250K for actions after Game 5

Updated: June 21, 2006, 9:42 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

DALLAS -- Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 on Tuesday for his outbursts following Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and commissioner David Stern said he's getting tired of off-court antics drawing attention from the series.

'Games are not rigged'
Mark Cuban fired back at The Miami Herald in his blog Tuesday after the paper printed this description of the post-Game 5 scene:

"Cuban then turned to Stern and other NBA officials who were seated at the scorer's table and was overheard to shout venomously in the jubilant din, '[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!' "

The Mavericks owner denied saying games were rigged and said none of his ranting was directed at Stern.

"The games are not rigged," Cuban wrote. "That's a complete insult to the players on the court and the incredible amount of effort they put into preparing for and playing the games. All 82 regular-season and postseason games.

"The NBA couldn't rig the games if it wanted to. And it doesn't want to. It's that simple."

Cuban was irate over what he considered a series of officiating breakdowns at the end of Dallas' 101-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat on Sunday night. The loss left the Mavericks trailing the series 3-2 and facing elimination going into Game 6 in Dallas on Tuesday night.

"Apparently The Miami Herald is reporting I screamed at the NBA commissioner after the game the other night," Cuban wrote Tuesday. "Didn't happen. Didn't say a word to the man. Not a single word. And that was absolutely by intention."

"Apparently this 'reporter' [writer Greg Cote] has written he has several 'sources.' Well they must be the same sources the tabloids use to find two-headed babys and aliens, because it didn't happen."

Cote responded later Tuesday, writing in his blog on the Herald's Web site that "I never believed Cuban actually believed the fix was on. I believed then, and do now, that, in context, an outspoken owner was venting in the heat of the moment at a raw, emotional time."

Cote wrote that he did not personally hear Cuban shout at Stern and apologized for using a quote passed to him by a source.

"In any case, however, I was wrong to use the quote. That doesn't mean the words were never said, denial notwithstanding. I was wrong, journalistically, to put quotation marks around words I did not personally hear. I would be wrong even if Cuban had not denied having said it."

• Greg Cote on Mike & MikeInsider

• Stern didn't hear CubanInsider

Cuban was cited for "several acts of misconduct" committed after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime to the Heat in Miami on Sunday night. The list includes Cuban going onto the floor to vent directly to official Joe DeRosa, screaming toward Stern and a group of league officials in the stands, then using profanity during a postgame session with reporters.

"If we are going to hold coaches, players and fans accountable, then we have to hold owners accountable, too," Stern said.

The fine -- Cuban's second this postseason and 10th in 6½ years owning the team -- was announced hours before the Mavericks played host to the Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Miami won 95-92 to claim the championship.

Cuban said Monday he was expecting to be fined. It showed in his reaction to the penalty: "I'm fine with it," he wrote in an e-mail. "Get the humor there. Fine with it."

He later referred to it as "just a business expense," adding that he wouldn't have done anything differently.

Well, it's also the latest salvo in the battle between Cuban and Stern.

Stern said in many TV and radio interviews Monday and Tuesday that he didn't like seeing Cuban get more publicity than the games. He told Fox Sports Net's "Best Damn Sports Show Period" that "I think the pressure of his first finals may be getting to him."

In Dallas for Game 6, Stern told reporters that he thought twice about taking any action against Cuban because he knew it would keep the focus where he didn't want it. However, he felt there was no choice.

Cuban got a kick out of Stern saying his approach was hurting the Mavericks.

"Last time he said that, we were down a game to Utah in 2001, and we came back and won," Cuban said. "So hopefully it's good karma."

Stern added that he'll consider further punishment after the Finals. That could include a penalty on Dallas coach Avery Johnson also for his criticism of the league following the suspension of Jerry Stackhouse from Game 5 for a hard foul on Miami's Shaquille O'Neal in Game 4.

Stern said Johnson got a pass for being upset immediately after the ruling came down. The problem was that Johnson was still angry at a news conference the next day.

"I was just being brutally honest," Johnson said Tuesday.

By Tuesday evening, however, Stern was already offering an olive branch to the Mavs' owner, ESPN Insider Chris Sheridan reported.

Prior to Game 6, Cuban was conducting a mass media interview session as he worked out on a StairMaster machine when Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver walked into the exercise room adjacent to the Mavs locker room, strode over to Cuban, shook his hand and wished him good luck.

"I'm fine with the fine," Cuban said prior to Stern's arrival, going on to repeat a statement he has made in the past: That he'd sell the team in an instant if his relationship with the league deteriorated too much. "If it gets to a point where it's personal rather than business, it's feasible. But I don't see it coming to that any time soon."

At the end of Game 5, Miami's Dwyane Wade was fouled on a drive to the basket, then hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left. Dallas wanted to call timeout after the second attempt, but a referee heard Josh Howard ask for it after the first.

An assistant coach later alerted Cuban to what team officials thought was a backcourt violation; a league spokesman noted the exact rule that explains why Wade was within the rules when he crossed midcourt at the start of the play.

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki was fined $5,000 Monday for kicking a ball into the stands after Game 5. On the way to the locker room, he knocked over a stationary bike and kicked at something else. Nowitzki said Tuesday he understands how Cuban felt.

"He is a very emotional guy, too," Nowitzki said. "He was upset, as we all were, about the loss, obviously the whole last sequence that went down."

Reported fines levied by NBA against Mark Cuban
Total Fines 13
Fines of $200,000+ 4
Fines of $100,000+ 8
Total fine amount $1,665,000*
* -- Through June '06
Source: ESPN Research

Cuban has been fined at least $1.65 million since buying the team in January 2000. The exact total of his punishment tab isn't known because the league doesn't always publicize action against team owners. Cuban said he will matches every dollar with a charitable donation, as he says he has with all his fines.

The portion paid to the NBA will also go to charity via the league's NBA Cares initiative, ESPN.com's Darren Rovell reports. Among the charities that could receive donations through the program are Reading Is Fundamental, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Unicef.

This also marks the 13th known time that Cuban has been penalized. The biggest fine was $500,000 in January 2002 for comments that included saying he wouldn't hire the league's head of officiating to manage a Dairy Queen.

Since then, the only other acknowledged fine came last month, when he was assessed $200,000 -- $100,000 each for going onto the court during a playoff game in San Antonio and for an entry on his blog criticizing the way the league selects officials for the playoffs.

Stern said Tuesday that he believes Cuban's more vitriolic outbursts are "not healthy for either him or the game."

"I don't think he is crazy. I think he is smart. I think his recent loss of self control is not planned and not calculated, and I think if he could, he would like to have some of it back," Stern said in an interview on San Francisco radio station KNBR. "Because at bottom, I really do believe it distracts the players and that can't be good. It sets a bad tone.

"He is very smart, he has to take credit and should be given credit for putting together a great team and giving his fans the entertainment experience in that building which is terrific. But at times I think he loses control and that is not healthy for either him or the game."

Cuban in his blog disputed that any of his postgame verbiage was directed at Stern.

Stern confirmed that account, telling Dan Patrick on ESPN Radio on Tuesday that he didn't hear any comments, shouted or otherwise, directed at him by Cuban despite being close enough to hear the Mavs owner.

Cuban wore a Stackhouse jersey Sunday in Miami in support of the suspended forward.

A half-hour after Game 5, Cuban was still boiling during a testy interview with reporters.

He wrote a blog entry Monday explaining why he used profanity during a response to a question about whether this was the worst loss he'd endured.

"The reality is that it would be a waste of both of our time if I gave him the 'This was a tough one' answer, and a waste of my time to really think about it, particularly given there were 10 other reporters wanting to ask questions and we had a bus to catch," Cuban wrote.

NBA executives often praise Cuban for his passion, work ethic and high standards, even toward officiating.

Still, Stern told ESPN Radio 760 in West Palm Beach, Fla., that he wouldn't have a problem handing the championship trophy to Cuban if the Mavericks win the title.

"I've been doing this for a long time and I have a very good relationship with the Dallas franchise," Stern said. "I was there when it was formed. I was just visiting with Donald Carter who is a shareholder and the initial owner and is still an owner. I visited with Ross Perot Jr. who is still an investor and sold the majority to Mark [Cuban] and I spend time with Mark as well. Franchises in their own way belong to cities, in any event, and I would be very happy to award a trophy to either the good city of Miami, or the good city of Dallas."

Mark Cuban
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyMark Cuban ranted in Miami on Sunday and in his blog the past two days.

Cuban practically turned getting fined into an art form after going from an owner of season tickets to owning the Mavericks.

The comment about him not hiring the league's head of officiating to manage a Dairy Queen landed Cuban as a manager for a day; he also donned pinstripes and officiated a Harlem Globetrotters game.

As his team improved, there were fewer stunts. He remained a visible, vocal critic, though, enough for some to suggest that his team ends up not getting the benefit of the doubt from officials.

Mavs supporters have brought that up again in the wake of three players getting suspended this postseason, with Stackhouse the most recent.

Cuban had several gripes about the play that sent Wade to the line, starting with Wade not being whistled for a collision that left Dallas' Jason Terry on the floor.

"I guess that's not a call," Cuban said. "I guess that's not a foul."

Between Wade's free throws, Dallas was charged its final timeout. The Mavs insist they were only talking about calling it after Wade's second foul shot so they could set up a final play and move the ball to the frontcourt.

"Josh Howard goes to Joe DeRosa and not only once, but twice asks for a timeout," crew chief Joey Crawford told a pool reporter. "Forced to call it, simple as that."

ESPN Insider Chris Sheridan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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