LOS ANGELES - LeBron James knows he was wrong to snub the Magic and the media, and David Stern decided the NBA was wrong when it didn’t punish the MVP for it.
So the commissioner changed his mind and fined James $25,000 for skipping the postgame news conference after Cleveland lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals.
Stern said Thursday night that he spoke with the Cavaliers star on Wednesday, a day after James had surgery to remove a benign growth near his jaw, and that James admitted he was wrong to not congratulate Orlando’s players and coaches after the loss.
“He asked that I express to the media, the Magic and the fans his apology, and particularly the young fans, because he knows he has a responsibility to all of our fans, and that sportsmanship is appropriate whether you win or whether you lose,” Stern said near the start of his annual NBA finals press conference.
“He understands why it was necessary for me to fine him $25,000 for missing the media availability.”
The league first said James wouldn’t be penalized, citing his usual cooperation with the press. Stern said he reconsidered after thinking about it more.
“Certainly as it related to the media, we have a rule, you guys know that we’ve had some interesting issues over the years with some of our coaches and the like, and it was inappropriate for me to give someone a pass here,” Stern said.
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., sent identical letters to Stern and union leader Billy Hunter, asking that they scrap the requirement that players be 19 years old and a year out of high school in the next collective bargaining agreement.
“What the congressman didn’t understand, and we’ll be happy to share our view with him, this is not about the NCAA, this is not an enforcement of some social program, this is a business decision by the NBA, which is we like to see our players in competition after high school,” Stern said.
“I don’t know why our founders decided that age 25 was good for Congress, but I guess they thought that was about maturity, and for it’s different, it’s a kind of basketball maturity.”
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