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Cavs Owner Fined $100K, Defends Stance on LeBron

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.

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 congratulated 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 on ESPN.

"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.

More LeBron James Coverage:

Living with LeBron: The King's Other Court
LeBron-a-thon: The Mother of all Televised Shams
LeBron's Breakup with Cleveland is Personal
LeBron Gets Cheers in Miami, Jeers in Cleveland
LeBron James Picks Miami Heat for New Team
Jim Gray: Dan Gilbert Will Regret Dissing LeBron's Ken Berger: Pick Changes Landscape's Mike Freeman: No Title Lock for Heat