THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Stern weighs in on James, issues fine to Gilbert

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / July 13, 2010

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LAS VEGAS — NBA commissioner David Stern viewed the LeBron James special announcing his decision to join the Miami Heat with disdain and disappointment, admonishing the superstar yesterday for making the unprecedented move to use an hour on a nationally televised stage to publicize his choice.

Stern spoke with reporters at the Palms Hotel following the Board of Governors meeting and the primary subject was James, whose agreement to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami could change the landscape of the NBA.

“I think the advice that he received was poor,’’ Stern said of James. “His performance was fine. His honesty and integrity shined though. But this decision [show] was ill-conceived, badly produced, and poorly executed. Those who were interested in it were given our opinion prior to its airing.’’

James informed the Cavaliers of his decision at 9:01 p.m., when the program had just begun. That, and James’s refusal to contact team owner Dan Gilbert in the days leading up to the decision, infuriated the owner, whose highly publicized public letter to Cleveland fans condemning James has been met with an equal reaction as James’s decision.

Stern announced yesterday he fined Gilbert $100,000, calling the owner’s statements “ill-advised and imprudent.’’ The letter, in which he described James’s decision to leave as “narcissistic’’ and “cowardly behavior’’ remains on the Cavaliers’ website. Gilbert later said he thought James quit on the Cavaliers during their playoff loss to the Celtics.

“I think Dan Gilbert is a good owner,’’ Stern said. “And I think he was completely correct in expressing his disappointment and determination to win. In fact, if he wants to guarantee a championship, more power to him. But you could read the rest of the statement and see where I think it was a little bit to the extreme in his follow-on interview. It’s those two that caused me to make the decision that I did.’’

Since James, Wade, and Bosh decided to sign with the Heat, there has been speculation of tampering. But Stern said there is nothing wrong with players discussing playing for the same team, and neither Cleveland nor Toronto, which lost Bosh, will file tampering charges.

Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo said in a statement that he is looking forward to playing for Team USA after agreeing to join training camp, which begins July 20. Rondo waited until the 11th hour to reveal his decision to managing director Jerry Colangelo during a phone call last Saturday. Rondo’s agent, Bill Duffy, told the Globe during the NBA Finals that the point guard would wait until the end of the season.

“It took me a while to make a decision due to my extended season,’’ Rondo said. “With other guys not being able to participate this summer, I’m glad that I can come in to help the team succeed and represent my country.’’

Center Kendrick Perkins had successful arthroscopic knee ligament reconstruction with meniscal repair yesterday, according to a Celtics spokesman. The procedure came nearly four weeks after Perkins tore the anterior cruciate ligament and damaged the medical collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee during Game 6 of the Finals.

He underwent the surgery at New England Baptist Hospital and is expected to miss six months. The Celtics signed Jermaine O’Neal to fill in at center.

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