Van Gundy Gets Fined $100,000
The NBA fined Houston Rocket Coach Jeff Van Gundy $100,000 -- the largest amount for a coach -- on Monday, a day after he accused officials of targeting center Yao Ming this postseason and said Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban was to blame.
While Van Gundy laughed off the penalty and Yao offered to pick up half the tab, the matter jumped to another, far more serious level. Commissioner David Stern called the fine “an intermediary step,” adding that an investigation would continue once the Rockets finish their playoff run.
He said further punishment was possible, even implying that Van Gundy could face a lifetime ban.
“If he’s going to say things like that, he’s not going to continue in this league,” Stern said. “If the attitude reflected in those comments continues to be public, he’s going to have a big problem with me as long as I’m commissioner.”
After the Rockets’ 103-100 loss to the Mavericks in Game 5 Monday night, Van Gundy called Stern’s statement “interesting.” But the coach stood by what he had said.
“I didn’t see anything wrong with what I said,” Van Gundy explained. “But certainly, obviously, for a statement like that to come out, he obviously differs. ... That’s all right.”
Stern said the league was both furious at what Van Gundy said and that he refused to divulge the official he claimed told him that referees “were looking at Yao harder because of Mark’s complaints” to the league office.
Van Gundy got himself into trouble by telling three reporters at the team hotel in Dallas on Sunday night that a referee not working the playoffs called him after the Rockets went up 2-0 in the series and warned that Yao was mentioned in an online evaluation from supervisor of officials Ronnie Nunn.
Van Gundy added that because Cuban “has been hard on” the league and officials, “he’s gotten the benefit.”
“I didn’t think that really worked in the NBA, but in this case it has,” Van Gundy said.
He stood by his complaints Monday and said he has made many of them privately to the league all season.
Yao fouled out of Game 1 in 20 minutes. He had four fouls in Game 2, when he made 13 of 14 shots and scored 33 points, then had five fouls in each of the next two games before finishing with four in Monday’s Game 5.
Detroit Piston center Ben Wallace won the NBA’s defensive player of the year award for the third time in four years, joining Dikembe Mutombo as the only players to win it three or more times. Wallace also won it in 2002 and 2003. Mutombo won it four times.
Wallace received 45 first-place votes and a total of 339 points from a panel of 125 members of the media. San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen was second with 247 points and Denver’s Marcus Camby finished third with 168.
Denver Nugget forward Carmelo Anthony was fined $7,500 by the NBA for shoving San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili during Game 3 of their playoff series.
Anthony received a flagrant foul and was ejected with 22 seconds left in the Nuggets’ loss to the Spurs on Saturday night.