Stern says Miami’s Big 3 acted within rights
NBA commissioner David Stern congratulated LeBron James on his decision. He just wishes it came without “The Decision.”
Speaking from Las Vegas, where the league’s owners met Monday, Stern said he would have advised James to tell the Cleveland Cavaliers of his choice to leave for the Miami Heat much earlier than when it actually took place – and that the two-time MVP shouldn’t have made the announcement in a made-for-TV special.
“Ill-conceived,” Stern said.
James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all decided last week to play together in Miami, working out six-year deals after talking with each other at times throughout the free-agent process. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Sunday he wanted the NBA to examine how all three joined the same team.
But in the Monday meeting of the league’s Board of Governors, no formal complaints were levied, Stern said.
“Our players, having negotiated for the right to be free agents at some point in their career, are totally within their rights to seek employment with any other team,” Stern said. “That’s something we agreed to. That’s something we embrace. That’s our system.”
Still, Stern said James was “entitled” to make his move to South Florida.
And while Stern did not necessarily approve of the way James’ decision became public, he also took exception with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s reaction to the move.
Gilbert released a sharp-tongued statement and called James’s decision “narcissistic” and “cowardly behavior.” Later, Gilbert told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he felt James quit on the Cavs during the playoffs the past two years, and that he “has gotten a free pass.”
Those remarks weren’t free. Stern said he was fining the Cavaliers $100,000 for those words.
“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 was “a little bit extreme.”
Stern said he believes Cleveland will remain a strong, thriving market, feeding off the success the franchise has enjoyed in recent seasons with James.
He also congratulated Miami for its free-agent approach.
“Miami did a pretty good job of clearing out cap space and putting together a plan,” Stern said.
One representative from each team met with Stern and NBA officials on Monday, where other conversations besides free agency included an update on the league’s labor deal, negotiations with the players’ association, and revenue sharing. Owners want a “much revised” system, Stern reiterated.
The league will contact the union later this summer, “to continue our dialogue,” Stern said.
“We are very anxious to make an agreement,” Stern said.
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