*NBA Commissioner David Stern hit Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert with a $100,000 fine for his scathing post-“Decision” remarks against LeBron James posted Thursday at the team’s Web site.
And while he was at it, Stern also took time to criticize Rev. Jesse Jackson for suggesting Gilbert’s comments reflect a “property-owner’s mentality.” [Watch Stern’s press conference and read excerpts from Jackson’s interview below.]
Commissioner David Stern said Monday that Gilbert’s words in the letter, “though understandable, were ill-advised and imprudent.”
As previously reported, Gilbert’s letter called James’ decision to play for the Miami Heat a “cowardly betrayal” and a “shocking act of disloyalty.”
James, who joined his hometown Cavs straight out of high school and played forward for the team for his entire career, announced his decision to leave the team during an ESPN special Thursday entitled “The Decision.”
In a press conference which was posted on the NBA’s Web site Monday, Stern said that James was “certainly entitled” to leave the team, but he would have advised the basketball star to handle his departure and announcement differently.
“I think that the advice that he received on this was poor. But his performance was fine. His honesty and his integrity I think shine through, but this decision was ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed,” Stern said.
As for Jesse Jackson’s “property-owner” smack against Gilbert, Stern said: “Equally imprudent I believe are the remarks by my good friend Jesse Jackson, which purport to make this into a racial matter… he really is mistaken.”
More of Jackson’s comments defending James below are the clips.
Below, Stern’s comments on LeBron James
Below: Stern’s entire press conference
On Monday, Jesse Jackson spoke to South Florida’s Local 10 news at noon about Gilbert’s letter.
Jackson said: “It’s a problem with the owner’s mentality. He said in his open letter that we’ve covered up for you a long time. Is this the way you want to raise your children? It’s time to make these athletes accountable. And so, against Orlando you quit. Against Boston you quit four games. Well, that would be a scandal if that was true. If it’s not true, it’s defamation of character.”
Jackson called to task Gilbert’s thinking. “His idea is I offered you a $100-plus million and you didn’t accept my deal. And so, if I own your contract, you’re my guy. If you don’t own your contract, I will destroy you. That’s not right,” he said.
Jackson pointed out that James had done a fantastic job for the Cavs’ franchise, but not enough for Gilbert. “LeBron honored his contract. He did his work magnificently well. If I hire you again, you’re my guy. If in fact you go another place, I’ll feel betrayed. Therefore, I have a right to discredit, disrupt and destroy. That is in fact a property owner’s mentality.”
Jackson suggested that James could take legal action. “LeBron has to determine if he wants to sue for defamation of character,” he said.