As anyone can tell you, David Stern is a bad mammajamma when it comes to laying down the law. That makes sense considering that's his job as the NBA's commissioner. Depending on the offense, Stern will gladly hand down fines, suspensions or even a really disappointed look, which might be the worst of all, kind of like letting down your parents. However, the NBA might be going a little overboard in its quest to keep the league clean.
There have been two incidents recently that caught the league office's ear, and both were pretty innocuous. The first was Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's February appearance on Bill Simmons' B.S. Report, which garnered a fine believed to be $100,000. According to FanHouse's Tom Ziller, the fine was most likely for talking about the league's collective bargaining agreement.
A review of the February 22 B.S. Report suggests Morey instead got in hot water for discussing collective bargaining negotiations. Simmons and Morey got onto the subject of Houston's 2011 free agency plans, and Simmons asked Morey how many years guaranteed contracts should be capped at. Morey, who cautioned he was speaking about his personal beliefs and not the league's stance, described his ideal salary cap system. Last summer, after a couple owners were anonymously quoted in the press talking lockout, the league reportedly told all 30 teams to hush up about collective bargaining or pay the price.
Harsh. A fella can't even voice his personal views on the salary cap without catching a serious fine in this day and age. It's hard out there for a GM.
Not wanting to be outdone by another basketball executive, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spurred another NBA investigation, just for talking to the media and saying something completely benign. From the Dallas Morning News:
Talking with CNN, Cuban said that "come July 1, yeah, of course. Anybody would be interested in LeBron James(notes) and if he leaves via free agency, then it's going to be tough. If he does like I'm guessing ... which is say 'I'm not going to leave the Cavs high and dry,' then he'll try to force a sign-and-trade and that gives us a chance.
"What I do know about LeBron in the minimal time I've spent talking to him is he just wants to win. Money's not an issue.''
A spokesman for the league said a review of the situation is underway. The NBA has a tampering rule that can result in a fine of up to $1 million and a loss of draft picks or other assets. But whether or not stating that everybody will be interested in James constitutes tampering is debatable.
Cuban told ESPN that "It's not tampering. Not even close." However, as Jeff Caplan notes, Cuban did violate a league memo that states that any questions about potential free agents should be denied comment before July 1. Furthermore, the penalties outlined in the memo include loss of draft picks, fines of up to $5 million and, worst of all, prohibition from hiring the person being tampered with. Ain't no half-steppin' for Mark Cuban.
So basically, if you happen to hold an upper-level basketball position, you should never talk about basketball aside from saying that it is a fun sport. In fact, I'm a little nervous about writing this post. If you don't hear from me soon, call a detective.